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Read Mario's Story »

1. What was life like before coming to Christ? What about before going to Bible College? (The more specific, the better!)

My name is Mario J Balderas. I was born in Corona California. I have 2 older brothers and no sisters. I grew up in a relatively normal home with both of my parents. Growing up I didn’t get in a lot of trouble and I got decent grades in school. I guess you would say, “I was a normal teenager.” I considered myself a Catholic. I went to catechism classes, got my first communion and I even made my confirmation. Even with all of this training and education as a youngster I never really gave my heart and life to Jesus. Instead, I grew up learning to be an excellent liar. I was so good at lying that it was almost as if I was living a double life. The desires to please my flesh were far greater than the desires to please God. Most Sunday mornings I did though.

As I grew older, the double life did not stop. I grew up to become an alcoholic. My first experience of “being drunk” was at the early age 12 years old. Of course, my parents did not know because I was such a good liar. The progression of alcohol started from then. As an adult, I remember a time when I partied so hard on a Saturday and then went to church on Sunday and passed out during prayer because I was so “hung-over.” My wife covered me and told those around me that I hadn’t been feeling good. I felt embarrassed but had no real conviction. This could be the main reason why I never learned anything in the church.

2. When did you realize God was calling you to be in Bible College? (Was there a moment in church, at home, while you were reading the Word?) Please describe this moment in detail.

When I came 9 years to the Rock Church and World Outreach I felt something different. Pastor Jim gave his piercing alter call and my whole family and I responded. This was the start of my journey as a Christian. When I gave my life to the Lord and proclaimed myself to be a Christian I took that seriously. I knew that my double life had to stop but I didn’t know how. Our family was faithful attending church at least every Sunday and it didn’t take long before my wife enrolled in Bible College. I remember her coming home with these new revelations and speaking truths about Gods word. It took me a while to accept it because by knowing these truths I was expected to do something about it. If I accepted these truths then I would have to give up my double life and live the life that God intended me to live. I didn’t know if I was ready for that. As my wife remained on fire for Jesus I actually felt a little insecure and felt unworthy to lead my family. It was a very uncomfortable place to be.

Part of the requirements of Bible College at the time was that each student was required to serve a certain amount of hours per semester so every Sunday after we attended service my wife would run off to serve in our son’s class (The Early Childhood). My daughter was old enough to assist my wife so they would all be together while I would hurry off to my Sunday league baseball games. I did this for quite some time until one day I remember God giving me a vision of my wife and my two kids all holding hands walking away from me. It was the worst thing in the world but I know what God was telling me. He was telling me that I was a little in and a little out. He was telling me that I didn’t completely give my life to Him. He showed me that I need to be with my family and that I need to lead them. This vision was big enough for me to give up my love “baseball” and give it all to Him and serve his people, side by side with my family.

Shortly after this, I decided to attend Bible College. The main purpose for desiring to attend Bible College was because I believed that if I was going to call myself a Christian and I was going to spread the Gospel, as God would have us to do, then I needed to know why I believed in what I believed in. Another reason was because as a man I am called to lead my family and if I do not know what the Word of God says about how to live a Godly life then how will I ever be able to lead my family? I felt that Bible College was the next step in my walk as a Christian.

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3. What moment in Bible College was the most impactful and life-changing? (How has TRBC propelled you into the future you’re living right now?)

I learned so many things in Bible College some things were spiritual, some were knowledgeable and others were practical. I feel that Bible College was just the help I needed to take me to the next step in my Christian walk. Bible College taught me how to dig deeper into the Word and how to reference other sources throughout the Bible to confirm that thought or principle. During Bible College, it is mandatory for each student to serve, hence “School of Ministry.” While I was attending school I was called to assist with a church plant, The Rock Church Coastal Hills. My role was to oversee the Children's Ministry. I was also a teacher for the Children grades 2nd-6th. It’s amazing to me that I frequently noticed that the content that was being taught at TRBC is some of the same content that I was planning on teaching the following Sunday. I don’t think that this was a coincidence, I believe that this is how God works, you do your part and God will do His part. I took advantage of Bible College to grasp a deeper knowledge of the Word so that richness of His word can flow right through me. I feel that my time serving, coupled with the classroom learning really brought me to realize my overall purpose. I know now that I am called to ministry and that God has great plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

4. What part of your story would be most encouraging for the person reading your story who feels stuck, lost and hopeless?

I graduated Bible College a few years ago and continue to serve in the Children's Ministry as a teacher/team leader. I feel that with the knowledge and wisdom gained from Bible College along with the amazing mentorship of the Rock Church Pastors and leaders I am provided the opportunity to live out my passion, to serve others. My full-time job is a Registered Nurse where I get to also serve people and meet their needs. I save lives just about every day. I help people with their healing process, I help patients deal with the end of life issues and along with many other things I help mentor other nurses through tough times. I fell strongly that Bible College has provided me some tools, not with the medical aspect of nursing but definitely with the spiritual aspect of nursing.

5. What would you say to someone who wants to go, but isn't sure if it's for them because of their circumstances, challenges, past history? (And they have the same circumstances, challenges, past that you did prior to going to Bible College.)

Some people may say, “Bible College is not for everyone.” I completely disagree. I believe that Bible College is for everyone. It provides a Biblical foundation of how to read the Word, how to interpret the Word and how to live out the Word. Maybe not everyone is called to serve in a church setting but everyone is called to serve. I’ll be the first to tell you that serving is not easy and maybe you’ve tried it before and failed. It may be possible that you were not given the right tools to get the job done prior to starting the job. A construction worker would not show up to a job without his tools or without knowing how to use those tools. Just the same as a servant who wants to succeed in what God has called us to do (to serve), should prepare by receiving the proper tools along with the proper training on how to use those tools (Bible College).

Everyone is in different places in life and everyone may not have the same story as me but I want to encourage everyone to take the leap of faith and sign up for Bible College. I won't say that it will be easy but I will say that you will be blessed that you made that decision. For those who may think, “I’m not worthy or I’m not living right at the moment,” or maybe you are living a double life just as I was. I want to encourage you to attend because as you develop a deeper understanding of what God has for you in your life then He will help you to transform into the person that He has always wanted you to be. Bible College is a great way to keep you accountable and we all need some accountability in our life. Maybe you are thinking, “not yet, it's not time.” We can all come up with many reasons for not signing up but I want to encourage you that the time is now! Don’t wait another moment. I pray that all who read this will be inspired and will make the decision to take the next step in their journey with God. You will not be disappointed. May the Lord bless each and every one of you!

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