Summer 2023
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‘The Weight Came Off My Shoulders’

When the burden of life became too heavy for Andrew Quach, he discovered a God who was willing to carry it for him By Kimberly Felton

“One day I was walking through campus. It was just another day of trying to figure out what to do.”

Life pressed heavy on Andrew Quach that year. “I confined myself to this little space,” he says. “I just went to school, went to practice, didn’t really let anyone in, locked myself in my room.”

Nearing the end of his sophomore year at George Fox, he had learned that his grandpa’s liver was functioning at less than 5%; he would have to go on dialysis. Quach grew up with his grandparents in his home. Caring for them was part of family life. This was a blow.

“We had other family members pass away because of kidney failure,” he says. “It was really heartbreaking for me to hear, especially because I wasn’t in California and I couldn’t be home to help take care of my grandparents and help my dad with the process.

“Along with that I was just in this head space of, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. Like, what am I doing?’ I wasn’t doing well in academics, and I wasn’t performing as well as I wanted to in track. And it was like the world was just pushing me under the ground.”

What’s with All the Nice People?

College life didn’t start that way. Freshman year was a culture shock, but in a good way.

Originally from Los Angeles, Quach had planned to remain in California or head for the Boston area, hoping to be recruited for college basketball. Nothing had worked out yet by his junior year of high school, and his basketball coach mentioned a small Christian school in Oregon that might have a spot for him. But he knew nothing about George Fox – or Oregon, for that matter. He stalled.

The summer after he graduated from high school, Quach visited. “The campus was awesome,” he says, but there was more to the equation. He grew up minimally Buddhist. “I came in without a faith background, kind of oblivious to all that was going on. I had heard all the stereotypes of what a Christian is, so I was hesitant coming in.” But he came, and had to adjust to more than the rain.

Quach takes a jump

Quach came to George Fox for basketball, but ended up finding a home – and success – with the track and field team, setting an indoor school record in the long jump, and earning Academic All-American and All-Northwest Conference honors in each of his final three seasons.

“Every time I was on campus I would always get so many different, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ from people I didn’t know,” he recalls. “And it was really staggering for me because I was like, ‘These people are so nice. They genuinely want to get to know you, and they care.’”

This was something new. “When you’re in LA, you keep your head down. You don’t really talk to anyone. You mind your own business. Coming to Fox was such a big change. It was so significant.”

His first big freshman event, the ’80s Dance, came pretty close to touching bliss. “My roommates and I dressed up in the worst ’80s outfits ever that we got from Goodwill. It was terrible; we spent $5 on it. EHS was packed to the brim with students I’ve never met before. I didn’t even know that many people came to Fox. We were lifting people up, people were crowd surfing, and I took a moment to just look at it. I was like, ‘This is awesome. This is amazing. I don’t think it could get any better than this.’”

As refreshing as this new community was, he didn’t know then how significant the care of strangers, and new friends, would be.

Not Alone Anymore

By his second year on campus, Quach had adjusted to the overt friendliness – but not to his own unmet expectations in athletics and academics. Then he got that call from home. He knew his grandpa’s time was limited.

“It was really heartbreaking for me, and I struggled through that time,” he says. He felt every mile separating him from those he loved and what he had always known.

One evening after work, Quach called his best friends and asked them to go for a drive. The car was his safe space, but that night he needed more than silence. He needed people to listen to the thoughts and emotions he’d refused to voice. “I told them everything and they sat there and just listened,” he recalls. “They prayed over me and helped me figure out the next steps I needed to do, and told me how they thought God could make a real difference in my life – that I could put some of the weight on his shoulders and not go through this pain alone.”

Several hours later, Quach was headed to bed and decided it couldn’t get any worse, so why not try praying? “Before bed I prayed, and I said, ‘Hey God, I’ve never tried this before. I don’t really know much about you, but I’d love to get to know you more and just want to take this first step.’

“The next day I was walking through campus and someone came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but I just feel like you are surrounded by the Holy Spirit and I just want to pray for you.’

“Throughout the week a couple more people came up as well and they were just like, ‘Hey, I feel like you’re struggling. I feel like God’s telling me you need help. Can we pray?’ That entire week felt amazing. The weight came off my shoulders and I just thought, ‘Wow, I’m not in this alone anymore.’”

That week, everything changed.

“I’ve been able to take that next step of having those genuine conversations that I’ve wanted so much, and to experience the world the way it’s meant to be experienced,” says Quach, who graduated this spring with a degree in graphic design. “I’ve learned that trusting in God in the hard times is not something you do after the fact. I didn’t have that relationship with God for the hardships I faced a while back. But now I feel so much more prepared.

“I’ve tried to strengthen my relationship with God in every single way possible. Just praying every night, reading through the Bible to strengthen my knowledge of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us. I know now that I’m not alone, that he’s here with me.”

Watch stories of faith, grit and joy from the Class of 2023

Watch video: Senior Faith Stories: Class of 2023
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Summer 2023 Cover

Cover of Summer 2023 issue

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