Leader Testimony // Karisa You


LEADER TESTIMONY | The Story Behind the Servant

In the month of April we will get to hear the testimonies of some of high school and junior high leaders, and we are so excited!! We are thankful for the people that God has called to be leaders and mentors in this ministry, and we want you to be able to hear from them and get to know our team a little better. This week we get to hear the testimony of one of our junior high girl leaders, Karisa You!

Growing up in church, I always heard people’s dramatic testimonies of them coming to Christ and felt like mine was boring. Now, I see how God writes different, beautiful love stories for everyone. My testimony illustrates that no matter how much I mess up, in every struggle, God is faithful and can handle it.

I was 4 years old when I asked my mom to pray with me after church. We were sitting on my dining room floor, and ever since then, Jesus became my best friend. I moved 13 times to 4 states and was bullied in school but Jesus was my anchor, giving me joy. As I reached high school, I dreamed of finding the perfect romance. I stumbled upon Redeeming Love, a retelling of Hosea from the Bible. God tells the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, and even though they build a family together, she leaves him for prostitution again. Hosea pursues her, buying her freedom and forgiving her. It’s a metaphor for our relationship with God: no matter how many times we turn away, He loves us, dying to buy our freedom. I discovered that God wasn’t just my best friend—He was the love of my life. I fell in love with the God who sends me sunsets and flowers every spring, knows every word before I speak, and sends love letters through the Bible.

Senior year, I searched for an account so that I could know if Jesus was really God. My Bible flipped open randomly to Luke, where Luke begins by explaining that he is writing an eyewitness account of Jesus so that the reader may know the certainty of what he’s been taught. I wouldn’t stop reading Luke until I knew Jesus. I recommitted my life at the end, and though I was spiritually attacked through dreams that summer, God taught me that I have nothing to fear, as demons tremble at His name and nothing separates us from His love (Romans 8:38).

Though my plan was to pursue overseas missions upon high school graduation, God redirected me to UCLA instead. He cared just as much about college students knowing the Gospel as He did the nations. Coming to UCLA, I was terrified I might fall away from Jesus and disciplined myself with rules so that I would not. But as I grew burdened by never feeling good enough, I found myself following a religion rather than a relationship with God. God reminded me that He loves me not for what I do but because I’m His and that it was for freedom that I was set free (Galatians 5:1). He still called me to spend time with Him, as relationships take effort, but out of love for Him rather than fear. Over the next years, I watched God bring salvation to international students, suicidal classmates, and random roommates. He started a weekly homeless ministry through college kids with sandwiches. He united 11 Christian fellowships for a campus worship festival where 25 accepted Christ. He shared the Gospel with Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh leaders. He gave me courage to face street preachers and proclaim truth on campus. I doubted God’s existence, and He taught me to love Him with my mind through apologetics. It blows my mind that God can use ordinary me to share His love. God doesn’t need the fabulous, He only looks for willing hearts ready to say, “Yes, Lord.” 


I idolized Christian community, and He showed me how only He can fill my loneliness. I grappled for control in ministry, and He lovingly humbled me because He’s God, and I’m not. I witnessed how every struggle I overcame wasn’t as a result of a new habit or philosophy: it was through surrendering to God and trusting Him. Jesus doesn't ask us to become perfect before coming to Him; He asks us to come to Him so He might give us His perfection. In that process, He ends up making us a lot like Him too, setting us free from our struggles, healing our wounded parts, and making us whole and new. The closer I grow to Christ, the more aware of my sin I become, but the more confident I am that He will transform me in time. He reminds me how He's conquered every battle I've ever faced—what makes me think He won’t do it again? Jesus is committed to us 'til the end, and this is the promise we can always count on.