The heart behind the conference

Students share their interest in volunteering for Missions Conference and their contributions to the preparations.


Senior Vanessa Munoz, sophomore Mariah Menard, and senior John Vogel, all members of the prayer and worship team, hard at work preparing for Missions Conference. | Amber Nunn/THE CHIMES

Emily Ednoff, Writer

Since the fall of last year, the Missions Conference staff committed their weekends to prepare for the event. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon, oftentimes even later, the various departments have been hard at work designing, decorating, researching and laboring. Whether in global awareness, interactions, prayer and worship, logistics, marketing or hospitality, each volunteer used their individual abilities in order to accomplish the final product. On Sunday nights from 9 to 11 p.m., they gathered in their teams in order to pray, discuss and participate in team building.

The conference is intricately woven together over the course of an entire year with the help of a staff of eighty students. The night before the conference entails hours of setup and an abundant amount of manpower, but it is the students who have dedicated their time and effort for the past five months that allow Missions Conference to run smoothly.

Sophomore English major Claire Zasso works for the hospitality department, helping the speakers and the bands feel welcome and comfortable. She even inquires about the guests’ favorite snacks and talks with them about their lives. Zasso’s passion for Missions Conference results from her experience at last year’s conference.

“I went to Missions Conference and it impacted me so much, specifically a seminar from Samaritan’s Purse. It just reminded me that God has given me this heart for children and for adoption. So hearing from that organization was really moving and powerful for me,” Zasso said.

Zasso says she looks forward to the Biola community gathering together and getting back to the basics of the Gospel, having both witnessed and participated in the strenuous effort that goes into the conference.

“You get this backseat perspective and you get to watch everyone else experience the things that we’ve been processing and meditating on all year,” Zasso said.

Sophomore political science major Joy Nguyen served in the interaction department working hard to decorate the campus. From spray-painting to paper mache, Nguyen and her team designed and carried out various decorative projects. Her experience at last year’s conference compelled her to want to be a part of the operation this year.

“An integral aspect of being a Christian is using your gifts, using those things that God equips you with and your experiences and the special burdens on your heart to bring faith to all the ends of the earth,” Nguyen said.

The director’s vision for Missions Conference means to cater to the students attending the conference and impact the staff as well. Sophomore public relations major Angel Jesudasen discussed how her perspective on missions altered through the process of volunteering in the sessions department, specifically in caring for people.

“They’re redefining what missions is, locally or globally, in your job, at school — anything can be missions,” Jesudasen said.

Sophomore intercultural studies major Jake Nagy expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the conference.

“The fact that this school takes three days out of our schedule to focus on the Great Commission … I looked at a lot of schools and I never found anything like this school and this conference. It’s special,” Nagy said.

Nagy works with the prayer and worship department. He took charge of the fireside chat that occurred last Sunday in order to prepare students’ hearts and minds for the conference. The theological discussion about adoption stirred his heart.

“There might be a little boy or girl who will have a family someday, maybe many years down the road, because of a seed that was planted in this conference,” Nagy said. “It’s not just a three day conference, it’s something that’s reaching far out to impact this world, and I want to be part of that.”

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