With his smiling face and unrelenting energy, Young Jin Ghun gives no indication of the hardship and pain he has faced in his life. However, the sophomore business administration major and former drug addict will have been sober only three years in July.
Ghun’s spiritual journey began in second grade when his father went to prison. Despite the difficulties his family faced after immigrating to the United States, Ghun looks back on this time as a good experience because he was able to attend church regularly. For the next four years, Ghun was heavily involved in his local church in Colorado.
Ghun made a profession of faith at age 11, but he does not believe he had a genuine relationship with Christ until much later in life. “I had a lot of head knowledge about the Bible, but it wasn’t really ministering to my heart,” Ghun said.
When Ghun turned 13, he walked away from the church completely, doubting what he had learned about God. Ghun said at the time, he would have considered himself an agnostic. Looking back, Ghun said he believes he knew the truth but tried to interpret the world through his own understanding. “I was someone who continued to struggle with feeling less than, like I just wasn’t enough,” Ghun said.
Ghun said he turned to addictive substances to distract himself from the emptiness he felt. At age 14 Ghun began to drink, and only a year later he turned to smoking marijuana. In high school, he started using hard drugs, which led to him getting expelled. “I started out wanting to be accepted and I didn’t think there was any harm in it,” Ghun said.
“The worst part was that I was living a lie,” Ghun said. “It was a prison of my own making, and I still didn’t even know how to get out . . . I knew there had to be something more.”
But Ghun sees signs of God pursuing him even when he was living in sin. God saved his brother Young Min Ghun, who began to witness to Ghun. Ghun said his brother asked difficult questions about Ghun’s beliefs he was unable to answer and became the only source of truth Ghun allowed into his life.
However, Young Min’s salvation didn’t take away his own personal struggles with addiction. On the morning of March 15, 2015, Ghun knew something horrible had happened when he woke up to his mother desperately crying his brother’s name. Young Min had collapsed in the exact same spot where Ghun himself had once fallen after an overdose. Despite his best efforts to revive Young Min through CPR, Ghun knew he had already lost his brother to a drug overdose. For the first time in years, Ghun prayed to God, begging Him to take his brother to Heaven.
For a time, Ghun fought to stay sober, but a year later when his grandmother died, Ghun turned to heroin to dull the pain. His life began to fall apart all over again.
After narrowly avoiding 10 years in prison for drug manufacturing charges, Ghun was given an opportunity to attend Overcomers, a faith-based addiction recovery program. He traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, in 2018 to try the intensive seven-month program at Miracle Hill Ministries on the recommendation of a friend of Ghun’s late brother.
While studying John 3 in Overcomers, Ghun was saved. “I was so humbled by the fact that God loved me enough to [sacrifice His Son]…I rededicated my life to Jesus, and I spent a lot of time in the Word.” He also met godly mentors at the shelter, who helped him apply to and get accepted to Bob Jones University in 2019.
Now, Ghun is on the worship team at his local church and teaches middle school boys in youth group. He also works at Miracle Hill, helping others who struggle with addiction.
“[God’s] plan is just so much greater than I could have ever imagined,” Ghun said.
“It’s this constant journey that continues to happen, that I have to continue to work on and stay humble about. Whatever journey you’re on, you just have to continue to do those things that will keep you in a right relationship with God.”
Ghun worries his fellow students will be tempted to look for hope outside of Jesus like he did. “Whatever thing you’re defining your identity in that is not your identity in Christ is something that is going to end up making you miserable,” he said. “Take it from somebody who tried everything this world has to offer. None of it brings satisfaction.”
Miracle Hill is a non-profit Christian ministry that aids those in need of food, shelter, counseling or other basic needs. According to the organization’s website, “Miracle Hill exists [so] that homeless children and adults receive food and shelter with compassion, hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and move toward healthy relationships and stability.” Those interested in getting assistance, volunteering or learning more can visit MiracleHill.org.