TCU: My Story of How God Saved Me in College
by Austin Boyles, partner at The Paradox Church
My story isn’t exactly simple. It doesn’t involve youth groups or church camp. I wasn’t saved when I was a kid. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with those stories, and it is nothing short of miraculous for the God of the universe to bring anyone from death to life in any circumstance. Those stories are worthy of celebration. Mine is just a little different.
I went to church on Sundays as a child, but slowly drifted away as I got older. We would never miss Christmas or Easter (because of course that’s when church attendance becomes more important), but athletics began to consume my weekends. Church had become a chore—something I would look for a way out of if possible. By the time I had reached my teenage years, I had no involvement in my church and, far more importantly, no relationship with Jesus.
Moreover, when I was approximately 11-12 years old, I had been exposed to pornography for the first time. I don’t remember how, when, or where exactly, but it became so pervasive that it is difficult for me to remember what life was like before this happened. I quickly became addicted, and porn became something that I struggled with for the better part of the next decade. There was always a part of me that inherently knew what I was doing was wrong, but it took a long time for me to truly understand the damage I was doing to myself physically, mentally, and spiritually.
By the time I reached college, I seemed to have everything going for me. I had come to TCU to play for a top 5 collegiate baseball program, I was in a long-distance relationship with a girl from high school, and I was a good student. By worldly standards, I had it all together. I would have professed Christ and could probably quote a little bit of scripture. But by any real biblical standard, I was as far from God as one could be. In what is likely due to a combination of my pornography addiction and my immersion in the ways of the world, I let my eyes wander despite being in a relationship. This eventually culminated in me cheating on my girlfriend my freshman year. I was beyond lost and unable to drag myself out of my sin, despite a growing sense of shame in the back of my mind.
By the time the fall of my sophomore year came around, I had slowly been feeling more and more conviction and a desire to actually try out church on my own. In what felt like a random move, I went to The Paradox Church one Sunday at the beginning of November. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and just kept going back. By the spring semester, I was truly feeling the weight of my life and the choices I had made for the first time in my life. After every single sermon, I would sit in the back and cry while praying to God, begging Him to forgive me, to fix me. I couldn’t seem to shake porn and I was miserable on the baseball team.
I look back and marvel at the goodness of God to lead me through pain and suffering in that season of life. It was later that spring that I would be saved. I don’t know the exact moment; I just know that I exited that semester a Christian. Truly, Jesus rescued me in the midst of my sin. I had tasted real freedom and felt God’s immeasurable grace for the first time. There was nothing like it.
I would go on to join Paradox as a partner my junior year. Getting plugged in to my church was the best thing I could have done and has borne fruit over and over again in my life. I was baptized on my birthday that fall and joined a city group. Slowly, one degree at a time, Jesus began to turn me away from worshiping my idols, especially pornography, and continues to show me how much better he is. That was very clearly not something I could have done out of my own power.
As the fall semester went on, there arose a need for men to lead city groups in the spring and I just kind of knew that I wanted to. I can’t fully explain it; I had been a Christian for less than a year, but I knew I had this innate desire to lead and a great opportunity in front of me. I had experienced God’s grace deeply and wanted to see others experience it.
My first city group was a bumpy road, but I grew a lot as a leader in that time. When I got the opportunity to be a leader of a coed group in the fall, I immediately went for it. I had experienced in my walk with Christ the unique ways both men and women could speak the gospel into my life, and I wanted that kind of community around me. It also just seemed to make sense – although there is definitely a time and place for only being around men or women, I didn’t want my community to be missing out on an entire half of the body of Christ. Although there is still some of my coed city group ahead of me, I feel comfortable saying that I made the correct decision.
It’s very easy for me to look back and see how God has moved in my life. It may have felt like hell at times, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my story. I’ve seen both the consequences of sin and the blessings of obedience. He truly is good, and His steadfast love truly does endure forever. If you ever doubt it, just ask me.