Cherilyn GanBiola hopes that its graduates will impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. Well here’s someone who is. Cherilyn was a global student at Biola, a December 2014 Human Biology major, who travelled thousands of miles to return “home” after she graduated.

Cherilyn has lived the truth of God’s sanctifying process in our lives through unexpected paths and uncertainty. And I think in the midst of it all she’d say, “It’s worth it.” What do you think?

GRIT: What’s your current role & company/organization?

Cherilyn: Right now I’m a teacher in Chempaka AOG Homeschool Center. Starting in January, I will be a Lab Research Assistant at the National Museum of Marine Biology in Kenting, Taiwan. I will be working on a project studying coral reefs.

GRIT: Where’s “home” for you?

Cherilyn: This is a tough one. I always say "Home is wherever my family is" because my family is constantly moving. The short and technical answer is "Singapore," because that's where I was born. My family is currently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but I am preparing to move to Kenting, Taiwan.

GRIT: What has been your journey since leaving Biola? Was it what you expected or imagined?

Cherilyn: After I was unable to secure a job within my major in the U.S., I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia because my family lives here. Within a week, God swung open a door for me to teach at a private, church-run homeschool center. Moving back to Asia, I expected it to be a rough transition and it certainly turned out this way. However, I thought that I would have some time to adjust to life here while looking for a job. Yet, God had other plans and had me working within a couple months of moving to Malaysia.

GRIT: What do you wish someone had told you before you left Biola?
 What do you wish you would've known or understood then?

Cherilyn: I wish someone would have told me that life outside Biola is totally different from what I would imagine it to be in every aspect of my life - spiritual, social, familial, mental and emotional. It's "easier" to maintain a "solid" walk with the Lord within the Biola bubble, but extremely difficult when you're in the real world among people who may not be of the same mind or desire to prioritize our walk with God as much as I was taught at Biola. Once the foundation of my faith was shaken, it affected everything else.

God opened my eyes to see my weakness and tendency to pull away or become stagnant without the push and encouragement of stronger believers around me. Cherilyn Gan

GRIT: What have been the 'aha' moments or surprises since leaving Biola? What did you least expect? What has been a pleasant surprise?

Cherilyn: I am thankful that I can finally share a story of how God made Romans 8:28 so real to me. When walking with God, we always have to expect the unexpected. Even if it is a trying season of life, God really does work all things out for those who love Him. Initially, I struggled to accept moving to Malaysia and working in a job that I did not even look for or want at that time. Yet, God has allowed this opportunity for me to learn complete dependence on Him, to see the true brokenness of this world, and to stir my heart to strive harder for His name's sake. During my first few difficult months, God gave me a little breather and encouragement when my high school mentor from South Korea stopped by in Malaysia for a short trip. My spirits were lifted, and I was able to continue pushing through. I thanked God for that pleasant surprise.

GRIT: How would you describe your spiritual journey post-Biola - areas of growth, struggle, questions about God, etc?

Cherilyn: My spiritual journey after Biola has been rough, because I've grown to realize how desperately I need God every day, more of Him and less of me, so that I can truly surrender my all to Him and walk in His ways. I've struggled to keep up with spending time with God, prioritizing work and personal life over God. This made me realize how much more I need Him. Currently, I still struggle to discern God's will for my life in decision that I have to make, but I've learned that there is an inner peace that God gives when you've made the "right" decision.

GRIT: What is one thing you wish you could say to your former Biola self?

Cherilyn: Cherish and relish in the lessons and growth that God has for you during your time at Biola. Savor every Bible class and chapel message because you will never experience anything like it. After you leave Biola, thank the Lord first for all that you have learned, and choose to walk with Him as you move into another chapter of your life. Holding onto the Lord's hand tightly, brace yourself for a time of faith-testing, but remember that it is through the testing that you will grow in perseverance, character, and hope. Thank the Lord for every opportunity to grow and believe, no matter what you may feel or others say, that God really does work out ALL things for the GOOD of those who love Him.

GRIT: Cherilyn, thank you. Thank you for sharing with us the good that God is working in you!

~ The Grit Editorial Board

Banner Font Design Credit: Leah Lu (Journalism & Integrated Media, '19)