By Camille Furst
Herve was always “that guy.”
As a former student at the College for two years, Herve Borgella said he was doing everything he wanted to do — from drinking and smoking to making money selling drugs.
“People knew me as the frat kid, the frat boy, the drug dealer,” he said. “But God redeemed me.”
On April 15, students gathered in the Brower Student Center Room 225W at 8:30 p.m. for the Gospel United Ministries’ event, “How I Knew God Was Real,” where College alumni shared testimonies of how they came to their Christian faith.
Even though Borgella felt he had been just the way he wanted to be, he said he still always felt there was something more out there for him. So, he started going to to church almost every Sunday with his parents.
He then described how in August 2017, he was driving back from a campsite he and his friend spent the week working at to make some extra money. And then he hit what felt like both rock bottom and a spiritual awakening.
“I was in this car with this kid — he was actually in the same fraternity as me,” Borgella said. “I laid back to take a nap. I felt my heart start beating really fast, and I could not move. And then, all of a sudden, I hear this voice in my head, saying, ‘Junior, you know what to do.’”
After trying to sit up, he said he kept feeling physically pushed down into the car seat. Again he heard, “Junior, you know what to do.”
Borgella said he then demanded his friend to pull the car over. When he did not, Borgella pulled the car over himself and got out of the car.
“I’m trying to walk away from the car, but I find it very hard to walk,” he said. “I’m trying to wave people down, nobody’s stopping. And something that I’ve never done, I started praying. And the same voice tells me, ‘They’re not going to do anything for you. Only I can.’”
He then recalled having a flashback in which his parents were praying and continually saying the name Jesus.
“He placed that flashback in my head. ‘Just call on the name of Jesus,’” he said. “Because when I was in that car, knowing that I’ve done wrong by the Lord all my life, I’ve cursed his name all my life … he still called my name.”
Despite everything he was doing, he did not find it difficult to turn his life toward his newfound faith.
“Why would I give up the easy money? The alcohol? Why would I give it up?” he said. “And then Jesus shows up and says, ‘I’m the reason.’”
Jarrett Locke (’18) also gave his testimony of how he came to faith.
After beginning with a prayer, he recalled how, throughout his adolescence, he always participated in his faith by going to church on Sundays and praying with family.
He felt he was doing it “for the sake of religion, (but) not for the sake of God.”
Similarly to Borgella, he also felt like he was missing something in his life.
“My grades were good, I had money, I had a job, my friends were good,” Locke said. “But I felt an emptiness inside my stomach that I could not explain.”
After he said he fell into sin for most of his life, he knew there was something more. Then, he hit his lowest point.
“I will never forget this moment as long as I live,” he said. “I just remember lying on my bed, and I literally felt like I was in chains. I literally felt trapped, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t move. I can’t live like this. I can’t live like this.’”
He then knelt down on his floor in his bedroom and prayed, asking God to change his way of thinking. He said how, in that moment, he felt set free from the pain of his sin.
“That wasn’t me — I could not have possibly done that,” he said. “And from that moment forward, I knew that God was real.”
Locke and Borgella then reflected on the presence of the Bible Believers, a religious organization that garnered strong opposition from students when they came to protest on campus earlier this month.
“They spew out lies,” Borgella said. “They want to misrepresent Jesus. Please, don’t believe those lies that you hear, (that) ‘Jesus hates.’ Jesus hates the sin. He loves you.”
The two former students went on to explain their perspective on what they see as differences between their beliefs and religion. To them, religion merely reinforces rules and rituals; however, they saw simply a relationship with God by asking for forgiveness and welcoming him into their lives.
“Religion is not the way — religion is a sham,” Borgella said. “Religion is a ploy set to divide people. Religion will not save you … rules can’t save you. (He is) just a loving God. Please don’t believe the lies. Don’t believe the lies.”
Locke said that God created mankind to have a relationship with them, not to just idly follow rules and obligations. Rather, “what God wants is a relationship.”
One student in the audience, junior communication studies major Lorriann Guzman, reflected on what moved her during the event.
“I came to support my friend Jarrett, to hear his testimony,” she said. “It was interesting hearing it from alumni and a student who used to go here, and their experiences at the College that closely relate to ours … It was more relatable.”
The event concluded with final words from both Locke and Borgella, who reinforced the idea that Jesus is the one who can save individuals from the burden of their sins.
“He wants to make you clean, he wants to make you new,” Borgella said. “But the only way he can do that is if you let him in. He’s not going to barge in, he’s not going to drag you. The Holy Spirit is knocking at hearts, (saying,) ‘I want to make you who you’re supposed to be.’”