Quick quiz: What do the letters in “BIOLA” stand for?
Answer: Bible Institute of Los Angeles. Biola was founded by a group of women and men who saw the city of Los Angeles as a crossroads to the world and desired to spread the gospel of Jesus through sound Bible teaching and outreach to the local and global community.
Whitney, a December ‘14 grad and sociology major, is living the vision of our founders as she works and follows Jesus in the heart of Los Angeles. Her story is an encouragement for me to wrestle with faith in real-life contexts, allowing the grittiness of daily life to shape my heart and life into Christ-likeness.
Read on to be challenged and encouraged as you look ahead to Life After Biola!
GRIT: What’s your current role & company/organization?
Whitney: Resource Specialist (Special Education) Teacher, Crenshaw High School
GRIT: Where’s “home” for you?
Whitney: Orange, CA is my hometown but I currently live in Los Angeles (the actual city, too!)
GRIT: What has been your journey since leaving Biola? Was it what you expected or imagined?
Whitney: Transitioning out of Biola was difficult. Moving home with my parents and waiting in a season of anticipation was hard. I felt isolated from my friends at Biola and uncared for. I started substitute teaching and re-learning how to live and interact in the world, realizing that I needed to practice putting my faith in action and conversation. I have since then moved out and teach high school and am in the process of understanding how I truly live my faith out in the world.
GRIT: What do you wish someone had told you before you left Biola? What do you wish you would've known or understood then?
Whitney: I wish I had more interactions with non-Christians while at Biola. It is one thing to discuss issues in theory but is a whole other challenge when confronted with it face to face and cultivating relationships with others who have radically different ideas of morality from you. It would have prepared me more to have honest conversations with others regularly who are searching for faith or are entirely opposed to it.
GRIT: What have been the 'aha' moments or surprises since leaving Biola? What did you least expect? What has been a pleasant surprise?
Whitney: I have very much enjoyed interacting with people who are so different from me in LA. It has taught me much about myself, our culture, our values, LA and life in general.
GRIT: How would you describe your spiritual journey post-Biola - areas of growth, struggle, questions about God, etc?
Whitney: Questions. LOTS of questions. Questions about sexuality, work, morality and my ideas of Christian living have been areas of growth AND struggle. I have found good Christian community in a church plant that has been a place of dialogue and deeper understanding of how to answer these questions or search further.
GRIT: What is one thing you wish you could say to your former Biola self
Whitney: Remember the bigger picture of WHY you are there: to grow and mature in your faith and to take those skills and understanding into your workplace. Your Biola experience is bigger than the GYRADS and events (though those are fun and you should definitely participate in them). Take opportunities that are presented to you and build connections and friendships!
GRIT: Thank you, Whitney. Thanks for modeling for us that questioning doesn’t detract from our faith in Jesus, but rather draws us deeper into Him.
Banner Font Design Credit: Leah Lu (Journalism & Integrated Media, '19)