The call to freedom
Speaker Bianca Olthoff, the chief storyteller for The A21 Campaign, a global anti-trafficking organization. | Cherri Yoon/THE CHIMES
As most of us know, words are powerful. They can build up or they can tear down. They have the ability to change lives. The third session for Biola’s annual Missions Conference reminded students of both the power behind words and the freedom we have in Jesus Christ. The session did a good job of wrapping up the first day of the conference and reigniting the fire within the student body to live freely.
The evening session opened with Moses Hooper performing a couple of his spoken word poems. His first piece was titled “Shalom,” which was about the idea of not being silenced in our broken world. Hooper’s second poem was called “Who” and used alliteration to talk about God’s greatness and who He is. This piece also talked about us being His beloved and ended with the line, “Who are you?”
Hooper’s words were then followed by a time of worship before conference directors Amber White and Alex Middleton introduced the speaker for the evening. As Bianca Olthoff stepped onto the stage, there was no doubt that she is fierce for God. Olthoff works as the chief storyteller for The A21 Campaign, which is a global anti-trafficking organization.
Growing up, Olthoff was raised in a poor family of seven, “My parents made financial sacrifices.” Instead of following down the path that she was headed, God took ahold of Olthoff’s life and started to use her to impact others. Despite being Illiterate until the age of eleven, she ended up graduating high school, college, and graduate school with a 4.0 GPA. Not only is her testimony inspirational, Olthoff also has a way with words that gets her audience fired up.
Olthoff opened with Joel 2:28 and John 14:12, which were about being used for God’s glory, and she called the passages “words for today.” From there, she talked about Jesus’ words, “Who do you say I am?” in Matthew 16:13-18. She used this passage in relation to the conference’s slogan “Greater: Compelled by the I Am” and said that when we answer that question for ourselves, “it determines who we are, how we live and what we believe.”
Through her message, Olthoff declared that we are called to be world-changers. Often, we are too busy with ourselves and our own lives that we forget about the rest of the world that’s enslaved. Our time is now! Christ has called us to be extraordinary, and that means letting him break our chains and deliver us into the freedom that he offers. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” as we read in Galatians 5:1. We must remind ourselves that there is power in the name of Jesus, and like Olthoff said, “the Holy Spirit in us is calling us and asking, ‘who is it that you say I am?’”
In closing, Olthoff read a spoken word that ended with “Speak now Lord, your servants are listening.”
Olthoff’s call to freedom ended with a time of worship and prayerful reflection. Students were encouraged to write down what is currently enslaving them and what causes them to live with chains. After a closing prayer, the students then had the opportunity to take that piece of paper and pin it to a wooden cross outside of Crowell Hall. This exercise was a hands-on reminder of Christ’s death on the cross bringing us freedom from our sins.