At One7, our goal is to raise up a generation of Jeremiah’s who will go out into the world and share the Gospel of Christ. The beauty of grace is that God can use an imperfect vessel to illustrate His ultimate perfection. The youth of One7 would be the first to tell you that they are not perfect. They make mistakes. They struggle. They fall. The good news is that they get back up and keep moving forward because, when they are weak, God is powerful.
Last week, we introduced you to Pablo and let him share his testimony. We wanted to post another segment in this young man’s story, because it’s incredibly awesome. He heard about a college scholarship, and went for it. We’ll let him tell the rest of his story.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when I found out I had received the Golden Door Scholarship. Although I wish I could take credit and boast about my achievement, I know I had almost no control of my award. The story begins many years ago…
For as long as I can remember, my family has had economical problems. Over the last ten years, we have lived in two different countries, three different states, and seven different houses. Often times, we had little to no food at all. Although my family had always been close, there came a point where my parents would fight every night because we were simply not making it through. It was a time in my life where I felt a lot of pain and hate. My hate did not target my parents, but instead, my anger was directed solely at God. I felt like God had put my family in a situation that was unfair and unjust. I despised Him and wished that He would just leave us alone.
During the summer of 2009, I decided to join the One7 soccer team. Through soccer, I got connected with the ministry side of One7. During one of our mission trips to Tennessee, a pastor preached about Jesus. I had heard the story of the crucifixion many times, but this time, my heart melted as I heard the words, ” He loves you!” That same night, I dedicated my life to God and begged for forgiveness. I knew that I had blamed Him for everything, so receiving grace seemed impossible. God proved to me once again why He is perfect, and He forgave me the way no human being can do.
Ever since that summer, my life was completely turned around. Life was no longer about me. Every breath I took was for Him and His glory. Even through mistakes, falls, valleys, and lows, I could still feel His presence and love. I am aware that I am not perfect, that my life is not prefect, and I am bound to sin, but I am even more aware of the love He feels for me.
During the month of November, I found out about a scholarship specifically for undocumented students like me. Scholarships like this one are considered extremely rare, so the competition for these is fierce. The scholarship began with writing two essays explaining in detail what type of person I was. Out of 500 students, only 40 were chosen to move on to the next round. I was selected, and the next step was a 20 minute phone interview. During this interview, I was asked personal questions about my life. As much as my teachers and counselors at school advised me to keep God out of the conversation, I made the entire interview about how God had changed my life. To my surprise, I was chosen as a finalist.
For both the 3rd and final rounds, we had seven 20 minutes personal interviews. As we sat in the lobby waiting for the scholarship people to get ready, I got the chance to meet some of the brightest kids in North America. There were kids from all over the world who had impeccable school records and amazing backgrounds. The more I spoke to them, the less I felt like I had any chance at receiving the scholarship.
Just like in my phone interview, I stuttered along all of my responses. I was extremely nervous, and I began to get a migraine. I pushed through the interviews, but by the time all of them were done, my mouth was dry and I felt horrible. It seemed like every time I talked about me, I would sound boring, dull, and unimportant. I finally realized what was going wrong, and I switched the conversation to be all about Jesus.
I left the company where I had been interviewed knowing I did not win. There was no reason to choose a kid like me to win and represent this scholarship. When they asked me the final question “What sets you apart from the other contestants?” I responded “Jesus”. Obviously, to non Christians, that answer baffled them. In full honesty, I did not have anything worldly that could separate me from the other contestants. Compared to all of the other kids, I was not much. These kids were captains for sports teams, leaders in multiple society movements, national champion debaters, valedictorians, and many other great things. I walked into this scholarship with nothing but Jesus on my side.
God proved to me why He is Lord of all things. Something that at first seemed impossible, God made possible. I am now blessed to say that I am going to college as an undocumented immigrant on a full ride scholarship. Jeremiah 1:1-7 speaks about a boy being set apart before he was born. I was not the only winner of the scholarship. There were about 10 winners chosen, but unlike their stories which began when they joined the chess club or debate team, my story began many years ago.
It began 17 years ago in my mother’s womb where God was already setting me apart to do great things.