“I didn’t have to clean up to come to God or do good works to earn His love. Jesus paid for all my sin on the cross. Jesus also didn’t promise me a pain-free life. He could take even the worst chapters of my life and use them for my good. That’s when I decided to trust Him.”
"My parents moved to Oklahoma from South Korea and started their lives over in 1992,” said David Cho. “I grew up in a charismatic church and equated a relationship with God to a spiritual high. Sometimes I’d fake it and tell people I knew the Lord, but I did not understand God’s grace or what Christ had done for me on the cross.
“My father went through a very difficult time in his business when I was in junior high and spent a short time in custody. I remember hugging my dad as he said goodbye and questioning why God would allow something as terrible as this to happen to our family. My anger silently grew, and I stepped away from the Lord and began looking for my value in the approval of others. I could not equate the God I had learned about with my situation.
“In high school, I found my identity in being a tennis player, alcohol, and the weekend party scene. I said I was a Christian and even dated a Christian girl once. I was taken back by how different her life was. Although we broke up, her witness for Christ stuck with me.
“I went to University of Texas at Dallas, and that’s where I learned about Watermark. When I visited, I heard a message about facing adversity with faith. That was the first time I’d ever heard a sermon addressing the fact that life with Christ doesn’t always look pretty; it’s full of trials, hardship, and suffering. I had some questions, so I asked for someone to follow up with me.
“Bobby Crotty, who is on the Watermark staff, met with me. That day, he asked, on a scale of one to 10 how certain was I if I died tonight, that I would spend eternity with Christ in Heaven. I said I was an eight because I had never ‘experienced’ God. I viewed God as a genie, waiting for Him to make the next move or grant me wishes. Bobby explained that God was not like that. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but even when I was in rebellion, ‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Romans 5:8). The Lord has pursued us from the beginning and will leave the 99 to seek out the lost one (Luke 15). I didn’t have to clean up to come to God or do good works to earn His love (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus paid for all my sin on the cross. Jesus also didn’t promise me a pain-free life. He told us in John 16:33, ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ He could take even the worst chapters of my life and use them (Romans 8:28) for my good. That’s when I decided to trust Him.
“I plugged in at Watermark, serving in College Ministry and joining a community group. I didn’t know what to expect, and fortunately, God connected me with a great group of guys. We met weekly and talked about what was going on in our lives. God clearly calls us to live in fellowship with other believers who can encourage and admonish us. My community group helped me see the Lord at work through relationships with other Christ-followers. I was being sharpened and spurred on daily (Hebrews 10:24-25, Proverbs 27:17).
“I also took part in the College Summer Institute at Watermark (CSI). I learned so much about God’s Word and explored Scripture I had never read before. We talked about the dangers of viewing faith in Christ as an emotional experience. I didn’t have to be in a hyped-up emotional state to be close to God. I could connect to the Lord through prayer, Bible reading, or even appreciating a great sunset and praising our God for being such an amazing Creator and artist. God has helped me see that happiness or big emotion doesn’t equal intimacy with God. He is ‘near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18). Even when we are faithless, God is always faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
“I’m still involved with College Ministry at UTD, a diverse school with people from all religious backgrounds. Some parents warn their kids to watch out for students who talk about Jesus, and I am sensitive to the cultural differences that can hinder someone’s understanding of Christ. It’s reassuring to explain that knowing Christ means laying your sinful patterns down, not abandoning your entire culture. God has allowed me to have great conversations with a wide variety of people about faith in Christ.
“Time in God’s Word has also given me a very different view on seasons of adversity. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Apostle Paul writes that God’s ‘grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ So, hard times are actually opportunities to depend on God, and my weakness and reliance on God during those times is glorifying to Him. I can take hope in the fact that Jesus suffered, too, while He was on the Earth, and now He is sitting at the right hand of the Father. I can trust Him and take heart in knowing that God is always at work.”