Revival comes to Biola

Extended worship, midnight baptisms and all-night prayer gatherings mark the 93rd annual Missions Conference.


North Steinbacher//CHIMES

During Session 3 of Missions Conference on Wednesday, students lead the crowd in worship in various languages.

Dalet Valles, News Editor

The water was murky green and nighttime darkness engulfed the congregation as students kneeled in the shallow Talbot East pool, surrounded by over 200 students cheering for their baptisms. Students wore their jeans and t-shirts that, moments before, were drenched in sweat from intense worship, but now were washed with the water that would mark their new life in Christ. On March 23, 40 Biola students made the decision to get baptized as part of a bigger revival that occurred during the 93rd annual Missions Conference. 

Attendees were moved to perform baptisms, extended worship, 24-hour prayer and readings of the entire book of Romans. As Biola moves from the time of conference back into instruction, the community continues to sense the Holy Spirit move. 

“You filled the gymnasium and venues for our 93rd Missions Conference, unlike any I have experienced in my sixteen years at Biola,” said Biola University’s President Barry Corey in an email letter to Biola students. “Extended worship continued for hours. Midnight baptisms in Talbot East’s pool. Prayer gatherings ending at sunrise. Worship leaders, preachers, students and leaders on their knees.”


During Missions Conference night sessions, students extended the worship time in the gymnasium. A yearly event that upholds a consistent structure pivoted when junior studio art major Berenice Carrasco, prayer and worship coordinator for the conference, announced that baptisms would be performed by the Missions Conference volunteers. 

“There is so much freedom here and we just want to give an invitation to anyone who feels called to get baptized tonight,” Carrasco said at the conclusion of Thursday night’s extended worship. “We are going to meet by Talbot’s foot-washing pool. If you feel called to be baptized, let’s go over there. We are going to baptize you.”

Between 200-250 students joined Carrasco and other Missions Conference volunteers at the pool for baptisms. These baptisms were performed by around 10-12 student volunteers. One by one, students confessed their faith before being submerged in the water of Talbot’s pool, beginning their new spiritual journey.

“I sensed that there was a need for that and I think being at the baptisms and hearing people’s stories saying ‘I’ve been praying for this,’ or ‘I’ve been seeking a community where I can do this” was really special,” Carrasco said. “People have actually been praying for this. It was a beautiful thing that God did.”

During this time, Campus Safety officers were present to ensure the safety of the unplanned event. The Student Missionary Union and Biola administration are currently taking steps to guide those who were baptized as they continue their journey. Carrasco explained that SMU is working with students to connect them to local churches if needed. 


Beginning March 22, around 30-60 students gathered daily for multiple nights in the Student Union Building as an additional way to extend their worship. This form of worship initially commenced during Missions Conference in between main sessions, but, on Thursday night, spontaneously expanded into nightly worship and eventually grew to 24-hour worship for the following days. 

“Originally, our worship room was only from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., but after that first extended worship, people still wanted to worship,” said Carrasco. “We had people be like, ‘Hey, do you need a time slot from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m?’ People just started to fill time slots. We didn’t expect it to be 24/7. People were just hungry for God and wanted to be in His presence, and that is why the room got filled and people were with hearts that really wanted to worship God.” 

Students gathered in the SUB for worship and prayer. As more Biolans began to congregate in the space, more student volunteers stepped forward to lead worship. The worship time extended beyond the three-day conference and into regular instruction time. With the help of  SMU, the worship teams planned out the nights. 

“The other night we worshiped at midnight, from 12 [a.m.] to 2 [a.m.], but [the group] led worship that night too,” said Ruby Rodriguez, a junior psychology and Spanish major. “It was mainly all in English, but we sang some parts in Spanish.” 

Rodriguez explained that for the first session on Wednesday morning, the worship group performed the music entirely in Spanish. The worship teams which partnered with a Portuguese group, included one Biola student, to plan the extended worship sessions. The weekend following Missions Conference, students packed into the SUB where they read the entire book of Romans out loud.

“It was so beautiful to see people rest together in the Lord’s presence,” junior public relations major Kaira Low said. 


Senior communication studies major Ryan Colombe, prayer and worship co-director for the conference, and Carrasco transformed and decorated the SUB, changing the regular study space into a welcoming ambiance for worship. Cotton in the shape of clouds hung from the ceiling; green and red patterned rugs adorned the floor; Bibles in multiple languages were set on a table for students to read; communion was offered for students to remember the sacrifice of Christ. All this made the moment of worship in the SUB welcoming. 

Biola provided selected decor and sound equipment for the prayer and worship team, but was originally expecting it to be cleared on the Friday that the conference concluded. As plans shifted, however, Chad Miller, the advisor for SMU and director of pastoral care and student-led ministries, worked with Biola staff to extend the time. 

On Friday afternoon, after the last conference session, Miller contacted Biola’s event service team to keep the set intact for worship and prayer in the SUB once the conference had ended. 

“We contacted the events team to see if they had an urgent need for their sound equipment along with the pipe and drape they had assembled in that space,” Miller said. “They quickly reported that they did not need it before the weekend.”

Miller also worked with Marcy Komae Binua, associate director of Student Engagement, to extend the usage time of the conference room where prayer was being held — as a result, SMU kept the prayer room running throughout the weekend. Beginning Monday and continuing for around a week, students used the space after business hours from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Miller explained how the extended events continued after the conference.

“In terms of partnerships, it was a good example of how relational networks become important in unexpected moments where we need to flex and adjust quickly,” Miller said. “We didn’t make this happen by sending each other emails. Instead, it was a bunch of us as friends and colleagues texting and calling each other, seeing how best we can support what God is doing in the lives of students, both in the short and long term.”


Revival has begun spreading rapidly throughout university campuses across the nation. In early February, people flooded Asbury University’s campus “for a time of spiritual renewal,” according to the Asbury University outpouring website, going from a regular chapel service to a 15-day outpouring. Students from Christian universities, including Biola, traveled o to Kentucky for the event. Now that the outpouring events at Asbury University have halted, campuses around the country are experiencing their own revivals. 

The Christian Broadcasting Network reported that multiple universities — Point Loma Nazarene University, Baylor University, Texas A&M and Louisiana State University, among others — have experienced revivals as early as March. 

At Point Loma Nazarene University, students performed baptisms at a beach near the campus. According to CBN, 35 people were baptized. At Texas A&M, local pastor Michael Fehlauer performed one baptism in the university fountain. The following night, crowds gathered in Aggie Park for worship and prayer. Revival continues to impact multiple campuses across the nation and Biola has felt the same impact. At Baylor University, students participated in a 72-hour prayer and worship where 20 people were baptized. Around 400 students at Louisiana State University gathered for prayer. 

“I believe that God is moving in our generation and He’s definitely doing something different and doing something new,” Carrasco said. “It’s not just on our campus; it’s happening on other Christian universities and I think it’s special that God’s doing something special within us because we should be the ones who are on fire for the Lord.” 


“We’ve seen God stir students’ hearts at Asbury and other campuses last month,” said Corey in an email letter to the Biola community. “You, students, are rising to the moment of what God is doing, and this gives me such hope.”

Missions Conference has come to an end, but the impact continues. Worship continues in the SUB on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Chris and Alisa Grace, co-directors for the Center for Marriage and Relationships; Jon Lunde, professor of New Testament; and Matthew Williams, professor and chair of New Testament along with many others lead discipleship nights every Tuesday night in Sutherland Auditorium.  These events will continue until the end of the spring semester. 

The Lord has ignited a new fire in the hearts of this generation. Biola students are beginning a new journey — a spiritual renewal. The semester is ending, but the revival is just beginning. 

This article first appeared in print on May 1, 2023 in the Chimes Magazine Vol. 2, Issue 4 edition with the headline “Revival is Here.”

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