I grew up in a very different kind of household from most people I know. Both of my parents are Chinese, but I was raised in a small town in Mexico. Growing up, my parents didn't have the best relationship and I witnessed my dad cheating with another woman. I didn't have any real friends growing up and those who I thought were my friends ended up being fake and bullied me. I wasn’t close to my siblings. I didn't have anyone to talk to about my problems, fears, or anxieties. I felt like I was all alone. 

Hoping to run away from the life I had, I moved to China when I was 12 years old. I tried to run away from my problems, but I ended up just finding more. I encountered physical and sexual abuse and I wanted to just run away again. So i decided to move, once more, to America, with hope that I would be able to start a new life and forget the past which haunted me. 

Throughout my freshmen and sophomore year things seemed better. It wasn’t until the end of my high school career where things started to go down hill. There was still an emptiness inside of me and I tried to fill the hole with hard-core drugs, alcohol, staying up late on the streets, and bad relationships. I started to treat my parents terribly and didn't really care how they felt about it. My life was spiraling and I knew that I needed to get a hold of it.

I felt miserable. I longed for a better life. It was as if I was walking aimlessly with no destination. Every time I pictured my future, I hoped for something to take me out of the life I was living.

Then at the end of my senior year I was accepted to UTSA. On the day that I moved in, I met a very friendly and welcoming guy who quickly became a close friend. He always invited me to eat and would pay for my food. He invited me to Chi Alpha, a Christian fellowship on campus. Growing up, I had been forced into being Buddhist and Catholic, so I wasn't really looking for anything spiritual. I was more in need of real, lasting friendships though, so I committed going to Chi Alpha 100%. 

During the fall of 2016, I attended a conference with Chi Alpha. On a Saturday night at the event, I felt God calling me to His altar. He began to show me how real He is and how much I didn't want to believe in Him. Letting go of my stubbornness and repenting of my sins, I surrendered and gave my life to the Lord. I felt a weight being lifted off of my shoulders and the Spirit of God broke down the walls of my heart. He told me that He loved me and saw value in me. He spoke right to my heart, because this was something that I never felt growing up.

Soon after, I chose to be baptized in water. Through baptism, I was proclaiming to the whole world that my old life was gone and that I was being made into a new creation through Christ. I have not once regretted giving my life to God. He healed me from many things in my past and He continues to show me that I am valued not for the things that I have done, but for who I am.

-Eric Chong