Torrey Conference kickoff celebrates ‘Kingdom’

The 2018 Torrey Conference brings discussion on the kingdom of God to campus.


Photo by Thecla Li / THE CHIMES

Biola alumnus Andre Murillo shares his testimony during the Wednesday night session of Torrey Conference 2018.

Isabelle Thompson and Lily Journey

On Oct. 10, sleepy coffee-clutching students lined the streets outside Chase Gymnasium for the first session of the annual fall Torrey Conference.

The conference, established in 1936, features well-known Christian bands and prominent speakers centered around a biblical theme. President Barry Corey welcomed students in a short video, saying that the conference “is about our own maturation” so that our generation can “love others more genuinely.”  


This year’s theme is “Kingdom,” focusing on Matthew 3:1-3. Each daily breakout session is structured around one of three main points: the “King (Jesus)”, the “Turn (Repentance)” and the “Way (Faith in Action).”  The main sessions were organized into two “Ted-Talk” presentations, with both speakers sharing aspects of the “Kingdom” theme for roughly 18 minutes each.

This morning’s main session opened with popular worship band and Biola alumni “For All Seasons” leading the crowded gym in heartfelt worship, during which lead vocalist Emily Hamilton encouraged students to spend a moment in reflective prayer.

Biblical and theological studies professor Jon Lunde opened the conference with his lecture, entitled “A Most Important Word.”  He challenged students to replace spiritual “colorblindness” with a greater awareness of God’s kingdom work.

After Lunde focused on awareness, Reformed Theological Seminary fellow Karen Ellis expanded on the “Kingdom” theme as she highlighted the original identity of Christians as “God’s people.” Ellis pointed to the covenant promise of perfection “with Christ in glory.”  


Junior journalism major Molly Bolthouse shared how she thinks the kingdom is a source of unity.

“I think it’s important to recognize what life is really about,” Bolthouse said. “I think [the theme is] very relevant; it all goes together and we’re all under one kingdom.

She continued to speak about the importance of contrasting an others-loving kingdom mindset with today’s self-seeking secular culture.  

“I think Dr. Ellis hit the point with saying ‘Imago-Dei [vs] Imago-Me,’” Bolthouse said. “I think that’s where we get blind to God’s agenda.”

Students were invited to become active participants of the “Kingdom” narrative by writing out the book of Matthew on paper located at Flour Fountain.  


After a busy day of breakouts, students regrouped for the second main session of the day as the sun was setting over Chase Gymnasium. DJ Promote welcomed students back followed by worship lead by For All Seasons.

The first speaker of the night, Biola alumnus Andre Murillo, shared his personal testimony detailing the challenges he faced growing up before coming to Christ at age 20. When Murillo was almost stabbed and killed in a fight at a party, he acquired a bitterness toward life that put him on a very destructive path for both himself and those around him. He said he even contemplated taking his own life. As it turned out, this pivotal moment lead to Murillo surrendering his life to Christ instead.

“When the kingdom of God invades our lives, he does impossible things,” Murillo said.

Years later, after becoming a Christian and while attending Biola, Murillo encountered a newly converted Christian who shared that he had stabbed an unknown individual at a party, similar to the scenario in Murillo’s own life. Murillo talked of how instead of reacting out of anger and bitterness, the transformation of his heart enabled him to forgive him.

“[God] allowed Andre to go through everything that he went through in his life, to get stabbed, to be near death, particularly so he could speak to Donald, to give him that forgiveness that he was withheld from the family whose son he stabbed. It was so powerful,” said junior business major Colton Stoody.


Ellis returned to the stage to deliver a message that starkly contrasted wisdom with folly. Where wisdom requires repentance and discipline, folly requires no such commitments, she explained.

Stoody agreed with what Ellis had to say.

“Wisdom offers freedom, it offers life and it’s a life that we don’t just get in the future, but it’s the tree of life we get to partake in now,” Stoody said.

The spoken word artist and rapper known as Propaganda captivated the audience with a poem about coffee and his personal interpretation of racial implications within society.

A number of students were already familiar with the artist and found his performance to be very insightful.

“First of all, I love Propaganda. I’ve listened to him for so long, he humbles me both as an artist, as a human and as a Christian,” said junior journalism major Alex Brouwer. “I think overall that’s the overarching theme of what he’s getting at is understand diverse perspectives, appreciate others’ perspectives and don’t shut them out in the name of unity.”

The night closed with Rev. Gabriel Slaguero talking on the existence of hope of the kingdom filled with suffering.

“I think one of the most powerful things he said was you cannot speak of hope if you haven’t weeped and then said don’t run to the crucifiction until you’ve knelt at the cross for a long time. It reminded me the importance of sitting down with people and getting to know them and crying and weeping with them before I can go in and share the gospel with them. It was the best Torrey conference I’ve been to by far,” Stoody said.

Miss a breakout session? Recaps can be found here.

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