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Missions Conference Blog

Day 3 -- Shocked into action

By Crista De Silva

As I sat in the last session of this year’s Missions Conference, I was reminded that it was not just a day of closing, it was a day of praise -- something we should always remind ourselves and take with us.

SMU President Chris Reeder welcomed the audience by sharing his testimony of finding light in a world of ever-present darkness. To start the session, a Hebrew liturgy, Aleynu (sounds like Aleinu) was read to the audience in both English and Hebrew. The closing speaker, Carl Medearis, took the stage and reminded us all yet again about his simple message theory: “Know Jesus and love him.”

As the campus emptied out, I visited the remainder of the missionary booths on Metzger Lawn. I had the amazing opportunity to meet Carla with the African Missionary Foundation. She talked about how her group not only witnesses 24/7 to those around Nigeria, but also even those in America. They will take any opportunity, no matter how dangerous, in order to serve.

She thought it was a blessing to be able to come to Biola and revive the students; to give them a renewed sense of the true reason they are here. She reminded me that I too often forget to thank God for the many blessings he bestows. The thanks he deserves is never fully granted. I was rejuvenated in the spirit through the quiet spirit and brilliant knowledge that Carla displayed.

Global Awareness was the next stop on my agenda. Throughout the whole Missions Conference I had heard many praises of the performances and how it touched so many lives. It was my time now.

Romania was my first stop. As I walked into the room, I was immediately placed in an uncomfortable situation. The sights and sounds surrounding me in such a small space were overwhelming. I traveled through India, Indonesia and Iran, but the last two rooms impacted me the most.

The Democratic Republic of Congo displayed pictures of abducted children, forever separated from their families and forced into a life of violence that could lead to their deaths. The fact that this still goes on today makes me speechless. As I ventured into the United States room, I was immediately blown away. I wanted to cry, to run outside, to be somewhere else. The room displayed the facts of human trafficking, right here in California.

Now that I have been fueled by the Spirit, I am ready to go and help. What will you do?

Day 2 -- Healing

By Amy Ritter

There was a Tibetan man sitting in the south-side bleachers this evening during Thursday’s closing session for Missions Conference. When he walked past me limping, I knew I was supposed to pray for his leg to be healed.

We met afterward, and in broken English he told me a traffic accident had broken his leg and that doctors had fused his bones, making it difficult to walk. And so I laid my hands on his knee, feeling God’s love for him and wondering whether doubt or love was prevailing in me. After I prayed, I asked if he could bend it. He could not.

“When you come to pray,” he smiled, “I was encouraged.”

I blessed him and told him to keep on asking God for healing.

This was one small interaction among thousands within three days of passionate speaking, worship and cross-cultural activities. What an abnormality for us to stop and focus time and energy so intently on one topic! It is no wonder we nickname events like Missions Conference as “mountain-top” experiences. Also, it is no surprise that such an intense experience produces heightened emotion in us.

When the conference is over, though, the tangible energy we grew to love is hushed away in the details of life-as-usual. Post-conference phrases like, “Remember when...” and, “I wish I still felt ___” begin to frequent conversations. People think things like: “Where did my passion run off to?” We long for the unique intensity to remain with us.

And others have given up on the conference idea all together, having had too many tears pulled from their eyes and one-liners shoved down their throats to be caught up in such an emotional tilt-a-whirl that will crash anyway.

Carl Madeiras kindly reminded us this afternoon of Jesus’ words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The God we all long for is not mediated to us through a conference but through a man, Jesus. If you can look at Missions Conference and see Jesus in what has happened there, you can be sure that he has not left when it is over.

The powerful words spoken to us; the songs that fell on our ears; the tastes and smells and touches -- they find their meaning solely in the person of Jesus.

And that is the beauty of a five-minute conversation with my Tibetan brother. We both experienced the love of Jesus himself as I prayed for healing even though his leg was not any different afterward! In this act, the conference actually became something real in my life.

Day 1 -- Let there be Light!

By Patricia Diaz

What does it look like to be light in a dark world? That is the question the Biola community is asking at this year’s Missions Conference. What does it look like to be on fire for Jesus? As one speaker put it tonight, to be so white-hot with desire for him that we burn as bright lights in a dark place?

As I gazed around the gym tonight, I thought about how many other events that building has witnessed. Do we have as much passion when we get together to worship as we do when we’re clapping and hollering for our basketball team? If conference credit weren’t required, would we still be a sell-out crowd for Missions Conference like we are every time we play APU in that very same gym? Why not?

In spite of these questions, I was still moved by how students responded to the promptings of the Spirit today. We lifted our hands high in praise as we sang along with the band. Hundreds of us came to the front to kneel in repentance. Knots of two, three or more stayed to pray with each other after the evening session. Students milled through the missionary tent all day today picking up brochures and considering how to get involved. These things take courage. Responding to God means denying our fears. But this is what we, as individuals and as a community, must do!

Speaker Tim Svoboda reminded us tonight that we love little because we have been forgiven little; we are forgiven little because we confess little; and we confess little because we think we are already righteous. What a crucial mistake! We cannot possibly be lights for Jesus in this dark world if we think we are good enough as we are.

That is why we are praying continually through this conference that God would break our hearts for what breaks his. For the nations around the world who have never heard of him. For the millions of women and children trapped in the sex trafficking industry. For the orphans and widows. For the addicts. For all who live in darkness, and for the darkness that lives in our own hearts.

But this is a hard prayer. It hurts to be broken. We might wonder how many times we can possibly break and still be put back together again. And how can we possibly serve God without being whole? But I think the answer, as always, lies in the person of Jesus Christ. How much more does his heart hurt over the darkness in this world? If our purpose is to be conformed to his image, what needs to hurt us as well? We must not be afraid to embrace that pain, knowing there is hope and healing in our Savior.

“Tell me how much you love him, not in here singing, but out there where it is dark,” speaker Beth Grant challenged us this afternoon.

With the conference theme “Let There Be Light,” John 1:5 comes to mind. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” Lord, you came as the light. Help us to understand your heart. Burn in us a passion for the nations and the courage to follow that call.

Break our hearts, not our spirits; our thoughts, not our minds; our habits, but not our lives. Light us up, and as we have prayed, may these three days truly change the future of this world. Let there be Light!

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