This is a true story about a very dear friend – who would have been in a better position to write this, but is quite shy when it comes to putting words on paper.

My friend and I met about six years ago at a college party through a mutual close friend. We talked about numerous random things that evening, but what stood out during our conversation was his current experience on the college basketball team and amateur basketball league, and the unusual way he drank beer from the bottle. I learned from other common friends later on that he drove a pretty sleek car – which included a one-of-a-kind body kit and a special built-in sound system any car enthusiast would easily admire. It was the kind of car you would notice from a mile away, and a distinct sign that the owner was on the premises wherever it was parked.

The combination of his athletic talents, fancy car, intelligence, and out-going personality spelled the formula for instant popularity on any college campus. (If you’ve ever watched or revisited an 80’s or 90’s teen flick, you know what I’m talking about!) But he insists that he never made it on the pages of any teen magazine as a “College Hottie” or “Campus Cutie”. Even without one of those titles under his belt, he possessed a good heart and generous spirit. (One of the many perks of being a member of the college basketball team is a 100% scholarship – which he willingly gave up and offered to another student who was in need of financial assistance.) It seemed pretty clear from my point of view that he wasn’t the typical “it” kid.

Despite our shared interests and his good nature, our differences in spiritual growth and faith kept us from moving forward. (One of the verses that was frequently cited during this time was 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – where Paul explains that Christians who form binding relationships with individuals who have a different belief system may lead to compromises or the weakening of one’s faith.) As painful as it was to accept, we both had to learn that no amount of kindness or good standing would be enough to sustain a serious relationship in the future. The earlier half of the years we’ve known each other were filled with discussions about faith, and setting our priorities straight. As love-struck and stubborn young adults, I think one of the most difficult things to accept during this time was that we were still lacking in many areas of our lives (and in most definite need of God’s wisdom and perspective) despite thinking all these years that we were alright or at the very least “doing fine” in the eyes of others.

The transition wasn’t easy, but frequent Bible studies and finally finding a set of Christian friends (who also became our accountability group) helped a lot. I learned in the next few years that God not only gifted my friend with the talents of an athlete. God piqued his interest about the Word, and made him quick-to-learn too. Today, my friend is an active member of the church’s basketball ministry – where young men are able to share the word of God through devotional time and prayer before each basketball game. It is also a venue where he and fellow Christians can minister to others, and pray for them. He is also more equipped to respond to questions related to faith and the Bible that are asked by his friends and curious family members.

It is wonderful and awesome to see how God is able to transform the heart, and life of an individual. He never wastes talent or an opportunity for His children to be a light in the household or workplace (Matthew 5:13-16). Through the transformation of my friend’s life and the impact he has made on those around him, I have seen firsthand that God’s timing is perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Romans 11:33), that the challenges He allows us to face are there for our faith to grow and His glory be made known (Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 12:9), and ultimately, that His plans are for our own good (Romans 8:28).

 

Writer’s Bio:
Carissa Villanueva works in a company that sells quality leather sneakers. God is her boss. She recently got engaged to a man who understands her pursuit for sustainability, shares the joy for coffee, and most importantly, loves God. Her blog, hellocarissav.wordpress.com, displays photos and stories about her most recent experiences around the Philippines and in different parts of the world.