Our Graduates

Below is the testimony of Jeff Chin Sell about University Christian Fellowship. He met his wife Lenora in our Fellowship. Jeff was with us for seven years; Raj officiated at their wedding in San Francisco in 1997.

I met the Nelsons through UCF toward the end of my freshman year at UCR. At that time, I was in a very vulnerable situation in my relationship with God and even more so, with His church. I had become disillusioned with what I considered “institutionalized Christianity.” I found it hypocritical that many churches spent so much money on “building funds” to build luxurious, comfortable buildings while there was so much poverty in the world. I was put off by people that equated being Christian with having certain political affiliations. Perhaps most dangerous, I began believing what many of my professors were teaching: that Christianity was merely a tool of the white heterosexual male to perpetuate their dominant position in society. If you studied history, it was clear that the name of Christianity had been used as an excuse to destroy cultures, enslave peoples, and even commit genocide. Yet in my heart, I knew that God was not responsible for these actions and that none of Jesus’ teachings advocated such things. Nevertheless, I had all but decided to swear off ever attending any church, but instead I would just pray and read the Bible on my own.

Thus was my state of mind when I first attended UCF. UCF was the antithesis of what I considered “institutional Christianity.” They didn’t even have their own building, di not collect offerings, did not advocate any narrow political agenda, and di not have any ethnocentric leanings. What it did have was the Word of God and the love of God. The Word of God was taught without compromise, yet in a way that was careful to separate Christian “culture” and “tradition” from the actual Scriptures. THe pastor’s family and the other members of UCF brought a rich collection of experiences of what it meant to be a Christian in many different cultures from within the US and around the world. I was able to have good discussions with Pastor Raj Nelson and his wife Kaly, who were both very knowledgeable about the Bible and the history of the Christian church both what was good and bad. I was able to accept the fact that indeed the name of Christianity had been used for evil actions, but that these actions were not supported by the Bible and that our faith is based on Christ Himself and not in people who have claimed to be Christians in the past or people who claim to be Christians now. I can now hear and even accept many criticism of the history of the christian church and present day Christianity without questioning my faith that jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God. Instead of altering my faith, these criticism, both merited and not, spur me to do my part to rectify the discrepancies between the teachings of Jesus and the actions of those who claim to belong to Him.

Below is the Testimony of Holly Verroco, who was with University Christian Fellowship for seven years. Pastor Raj presided over Holly and her husband Phil’s wedding in 1995, after which they continued to attend UCF as a married couple!

Hello, my name is Holly Verroco and I attended UCF from 1992-1999.

I don’t know where to begin, but I guess I should start with my freshman year. I was living in the dorms. My new found freedom being away from my home and family had taken it’s toll and I was not attending church at all since I was staying up late every Saturday night and thus sleeping in on Sunday mornings. But also, I didn’t have a car and so had no way of getting to church either. Then a friend who lived down the hall from me suggested we try this church on the campus called University Christian Fellowship. It didn’t start until 10 and we could walk to it. So we went. I will never forget the first Sunday. Pastor Raj and his wife Kaly were so friendly, but even better they were determined to help me get back to church the next week. They would call me to say hello and remind me about church. Even when I was up late and thought about skipping I would think how disappointed they would be so I went. That is exactly what I needed. It got me into the routine of church again, but the best thing was how it kept my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ growing and developing. This doesn’t just happen with church attendance. It takes the right spiritual leader. Someone full of the knowledge of God and the love of God for others. This describes both Raj and Kaly. Each week Raj’s message helped me to understand scripture better and Kaly encouraged me too with her spiritual motherly care. Through my years attending UCF I was encouraged to read through the Bible in one year using M’Cheyne’s calendar. A feat I had never accomplished before or even thought about accomplishing. It is one thing to know the stories from the Bible and quite another to actually read it for yourself( as I learned.) I succeeded and was amazed and transformed by what I learned about God. I actually started over the next year to do it again. I can say I have read my Bible cover to cover at least three times and try to read portions of it every day now, but the most important thing I learned was how reading my Bible helped develop my relationship with God. And no matter how many times you read it, God always shows you something new.

Raj and Kaly are people who live the Word of God out in their lives. They aren’t just putting on an act for church on Sunday like many others do. They live everyday as committed Christians who study and apply God’s word in their daily lives. They invited everyone to their home for Bible study during the week and it was so encouraging to me to talk and share with them on a personal level my struggles and concerns. I knew I could trust them to give me Godly advice, pray for me, and support me. Also, Kaly led a women’s Bible study one year that really helped me get through a tough time. As believers, we need support and prayer. We need each other. This is another thing I learned from UCF. Fellowship is very important. It helps you grow in Christ and strengthens you. Like the Bible says in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Raj and Kaly were more than my pastor and pastor’s wife, they were my family in Christ. They will always be my family, like all Christians who share the bond of having Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We are family.

Raj performed my marriage to my husband in 1995. The year before the wedding my husband Phil and I received pre-marital counseling from Raj every week. This helped us to enter our marriage knowing the other person better and having a spiritual foundation. After the marriage, my husband and I continued to attend UCF and were blessed by the wisdom shared by both Raj and Kaly from their own experiences as a married couple in the Lord. My husband and I read through the Bible together that first year which only made our marriage stronger. I still look to Raj and Kaly as an example of a successful marriage in Christ. They model for me what God meant marriage to be. They are both strong in the Lord, yet work together to strengthen each other and those around them. They are what I hope my husband and I can be to each other and others.

God brought me to UCF because he knew all the important things I needed to learn from his faithful stewards Raj and Kaly and from other believers who attended. He wanted me to learn to be part of his family, to read His word, to learn about His amazing love, to have fellowship and know the true meaning of being a Christian or Christ follower. I have never forgotten these lessons. Although, my husband joined the military and we had to move away from California, UCF is always in my heart. I have taken what I learned and used it to grow closer to the Lord and to join His family no matter where I have lived. Everyday brings new challenges, but I know with the Lord’s help I can accomplish all things (Philippians 4:13). I hope you will consider attending UCF so you too can begin the journey of knowing God and can receive His love and blessings for your life.

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