A Personal Faith
Private schools. Eww. I believed private schools — the ones with the fancy campuses, the preppy uniforms and the lemon slices in their water — were only for the rich and privileged and definitely no place for a child coming from a low-income immigrant family. And yet, here I am, sitting at my desk typing this as a junior attending Upper Columbia Academy, and it's not at all what I had imagined. Oh, the irony!
In 2016, when my mom introduced the idea of me going to a boarding school 2,000 miles away, I just knew that she was going completely insane. Honestly, I was a little concerned she just didn’t know how to crack a joke, so I didn’t take her seriously. But she WAS serious, and I found myself standing in front of a smiling staff member waiting to take my registration papers and hand me my schedule. And that was when my transformation started.
God had never really been MY God. He was my parents’ God. The church congregation’s God. The pastor’s God. But not my God. I didn’t know who my God was, and I didn’t care to look. There was nothing to push me to look for Him, read His Word or get to know Him. Coming as a student from public school, I was never used to praying before class. I wasn't used to Bible classes, student week of prayer or being surrounded by people of the same faith, but all those things quickly began to grow on me. Praying at the beginning of class, whether for tests, personal well-being, family members or a silent request — and knowing that the class is supporting you through your struggles — is a feeling on a whole other level. It’s that warm, tingly feeling that spreads from your chest to your fingertips and toes. The feeling of family.
At my public school, there was no place to talk openly about God, so student week of prayer was one of the most inspiring events here. Listening to friends being vulnerable on stage, friends opening their hearts, sharing their struggles and the place God has in their lives was an experience no TED Talk or motivational speech can beat. It involves the God you’ve heard about all your life from pastors, from your parents, from older church members … but never from your friends. Never from the classmate who seems to have it all or the ones who are hesitant, doubtful and unsure about this so-called God. I was inspired to hear from those people. So when I was chosen to be a student week of prayer speaker, I knew the opportunity was coming from God too.
Coming to an Adventist Christian academy was the push I needed to get me to start searching. Because even though I know I’m not where I’d like to be, I know this isn’t where it’s going to end. I’ve got people who support me and a God that won’t give up on me, so I better not give up.