Jan. 19, 2020
Each week, as the Biola basketball team charges up and down the court, junior captain Andre Murillo pours his heart and soul into the game. But it isn’t the game that has Murillo’s heart.
“Up until about two years ago, I had been living a life devoted to the world when Christ radically changed my life,” says Murillo.
“Throughout high school, Jesus didn’t really mean anything to me. I remember saying the sinner’s prayer at the Harvest Festival my sophomore year because heaven sounded a lot better than hell.”
After the alter call, Murillo continued to idolize basketball.
“After high school, I was mainly focused on finding a school that would offer me a basketball scholarship. When Concordia University in Irvine did just that, I accepted.”
Murillo’s main focus became basketball and his identity revolved around basketball.
“During my time at Concordia, I nearly lost my life in a stabbing, which forced me to think about the reality of death and the meaning of life. But still instead of turning to Christ, I turned to drugs.”
This was just another step along the road of what Murillo describes as an empty life, caught up in his own problems.
“I was put on probation as a student at Concordia for my behavior and was later dismissed. At that time, my main idols were basketball, teammates and drugs. I was absolutely devastated when I was kicked out of college.”
In the midst of all the devastation, Murillo continued to cling to drugs to cover up his pain. But one summer night, Murillo went to the false comfort of drugs only to have them not work.
“At that moment, I had nothing to take away the thoughts of the current circumstances. I felt completely hopeless.”
All the pain became so much that Murillo even considered taking his own life, a thought that he couldn’t believe.
At that moment, I fell to my knees and said, ‘Lord, forgive me!’ I was overcome by an overwhelming sense of love. I opened up the Bible and was given not only hope, but life. I was instantly saved from my drug addiction and fell in love with God. My tears of desperation turned into tears of repentance.”
After his radical transformation, Murillo began to explore returning to college.
“My dad wanted me to play basketball at a Division I school, but after being radically transformed for Christ, I wanted something more.”
Murillo talked to the Biola men’s basketball coach, Dave Holmquist, who remembered him from his days at Concordia.
“During a visit, I felt convinced that Biola was the place for me. Expecting to have to explain myself to him, my dad looked at me and said, ‘what are you waiting for?’ It was as if God spoke right through him.”
Murillo acknowledges that he has a crazy testimony, but he wants the main focus to always be the grace and love of Christ, not the story.
“I believe that whether you also have a radical testimony, or were raised in a Christian home, the biggest miracle is that Jesus died for you as a sinner.”
After his incredible journey, Murillo wants to be known as “someone who is saved by grace.” And God’s grace is on full display in Murillo’s life as he provided a second chance for Murillo to do what he loves through a basketball scholarship from Biola.
“Now, I want my focus to be on God in everything in life. It’s all about him, including my sport.”
Murillo had a great basketball season, averaging about thirteen points and six rebounds per game. As captain, he helped lead the Biola Eagles to an amazing 27-9 season and the first ever Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.
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