I grew up in a church where my parents were respected elders, and my siblings were known for their musical talents; the church only knew me as Rancho’s daughter or Lydia/Joesph’s little sister. I didn’t have an identity. And if I did, it was through my family. And at no point did I think of Jesus being my life’s savior. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I was young, a little chubby (to be honest), lived far from everyone at the church, and didn’t fit in anywhere. I tried so hard just to be accepted by these people who didn’t know who I was as an individual. And honestly, I didn’t learn anything about who Jesus was. There were times I thought I knew who He was. But looking back at it, I only wanted to get to know God because I wanted others to see that I was a faithful servant, a Jesus-lover, and I think my youth pastor knew that. But I still had to love God, right? I was to the point where my faith was weak, and I didn’t know how I was supposed to know God if no one was willing to teach a 15-year-old girl struggling to find out who she was. I blamed so many people when it was all in my head and at a time when everything seemed so fake to me. I couldn’t believe that there were real Christians. I thought people were simply acting the same way I was, putting on a show. That’s the reason I never really trusted anyone in my youth. I felt alone and put all my time into golf.
And at this time, I thought all teenagers were confused and only wanted to be accepted, and it didn’t matter how it happened. So, as a teen, I tried to find acceptance in other places, whether it be dressing a certain way, getting attention from guys, cursing out loud just because it was “cool,” or all those other minute things that were considered bad. I grew up thinking it was normal. You’d think, “where were my siblings?” Well, they’re 10 and 8 years older than me, and they’d already gone to live their life by the time I was in high school. I was still alone. And I took no action to get to know God, even when I had the time. I always thought, “He’s there for me, so it’s okay.” But in reality, I didn’t know anything else besides that He loves me.
Then came the time when I could finally escape being the youngest in my family, being a burden to my parents, and being able to do whatever I wanted, like starting new again. But the downside was I was in Arkansas. Not saying Arkansas is a terrible state (but lowkey kind of is). I was just a little too far from my family and my “friends.” I still didn’t know who I was, and God didn’t mean anything to me. At that point, I didn’t even attempt to go to church because of golf, and having to drive an hour to Little Rock for a church I didn’t even know seemed so outlandish. But when I went to college, I don’t remember how it happened; I got a lot closer to Diana and Brian. We three went to different colleges that weren’t UT Austin (sorry to the longhorns), and it brought us closer together. I realize how much we had in common being at AKPC, and sharing our similar experiences made me feel – less alone. Though I didn’t attend church, Diana did. She told me about ANF and invited me every time I went back to Austin. I couldn’t really wrap my head around why Diana was excited to bring me here, and I think it was the first time I had attended church in a couple of months. But being fairly optimistic, I did the best I could by hoping for the best.
Going home had always been exhausting, and I wasn’t super excited to make small talk with the ones I lost contact with. But I remember the first time coming to ANF; everyone was so happy and welcoming. Being surrounded by people who had genuine happiness with Christ was really refreshing. I couldn’t understand how I was feeling. There was a lot of love from everyone, and I could tell it was genuine. The community here was something I had never experienced, and I’m not sure if it was because I was away from Christ and civilization for so long or because God was working His magic. I have a big thing with genuineness(?), It makes things real and shows how passionate you are about something or someone. And the last six months I’ve been attending ANF have been the most hard-hitting and learning experience for me than the previous 20 years of my life.
I’ve seen what Christ has done to some people, and I’ve never been so grateful. Grateful for being blessed with this God-given family that is ANF. Grateful for my house church members that make me laugh till I cry or make me cry because of a game I just can’t seem to win. Grateful to have this opportunity to know what it means to feel God’s presence. Everywhere. I am even more grateful for the immense feeling of love I received when I realized that genuine people surround me. I am grateful to have accepted Jesus as my savior BY CHOICE and not fearing death because I know that if I were to die an earthly death, I’d still be living in His kingdom.
When I had my RJM, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never talked to anyone about my faith besides probably Diana. I was scared that I wasn’t God-knowledgeable enough to accept Him. But PD explained to me what it means to become a Christian and helped me see that everyone starts somewhere, and it’s like I’m taking my first steps. On the day of January 22, 2022, relying on God’s promise on John 1:12, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” I received Jesus Christ into my life with my mouth and with my heart as my Savior who died for my sins and as my Lord whom I will follow. The day is my spiritual birthday, and I became a child of God.
I truly believe in God’s timing and everything that has built up for this moment is what God wanted me to experience. From being born a sinner, growing up and being confused, going through the motions, and not understanding what God meant to me – only made me appreciate Him more. I want to live as Hannah Choi, where I entirely and full-heartedly give everything to God.