Diverse Torrey speakers challenge students


Photo by Kelsey Heng

Francis Chan speaks Thursday night about humility.

The rustling sounds of backpacks, purses and shuffling feet of groggy students echoed throughout Chase Gymnasium last Wednesday morning, marking the first session of the 72nd Annual Torrey Memorial Bible Conference.

The Rev. Brian Loritts, Jill Briscoe, and the Rev. Francis Chan were the featured speakers at the conference this year, with Todd Proctor, the lead pastor of RockHarbor Church, putting on a worship concert on Tuesday night along with a worship band from RockHarbor.

The choice of speakers evoked a positive response from students.

“I think the diversity of the speakers and topics were really cool,” sophomore Mike Morin said. “The topics were really varied and applicable.”

Loritts kicked off the first session Wednesday morning and also spoke in the Wednesday afternoon session. He began by challenging students to be revolutionaries in society. He encouraged Biola students to take a stand for their faith and make an impact for Christ in a fallen world. Although he spoke on pertinent subjects concerning how to make a stand for Christ, his sessions were full of lighthearted jokes that caused ripples of laughter throughout the gymnasium.

When he finished his last session Thursday morning, he thanked Biola for giving him the opportunity to speak and share what was on his heart.

“I really liked when he described the shield of faith in Ephesians 6 and how we as Christians should be linking to each other and not just ourselves,” sophomore Susanna Brunner said.

Briscoe spoke at the 10:30 a.m. sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Her lectures revolved around the sin of King David. She challenged students to not place themselves “on the roof,” or in bad situations, and said if they found themselves there, they needed to flee. She shared many personal stories about her life, and told students stories of surviving the bombings in England during World War II. With her closing statements on Thursday, she said that despite her age she was “so glad that [she was] able to have the privilege to be able to do something like this.”

Junior Amanda Cogan said Briscoe was her favorite speaker.

“I like her approach and how she was a grandmother type but also a godly woman,” Cogan said. “She is not judging us but she thinks this is what God wants for us and this is what is best for us.”

The final speaker was Chan who spoke Thursday afternoon and evening, as well as Friday morning at 9. Chan talked about living out our faith and challenged students to take action. His message spoke of the internal spiritual actions that make ministry so powerful. His message was full of personal stories from his ministry with college students. Some students he knew gave up their time, money and homes for ministry to those who live in poverty in the Los Angeles area.

Chan said he was excited to speak at Biola again since he has spoken at previous Torrey Conferences and Missions Conferences, as well as various chapels.

“I have been faithful to Biola for years; they [Azusa students] just don’t love me like you do,” Chan said. Chan really pushed students to go beyond their comfort zone and go out into the world and help those in need.

In addition to impactful speakers, Tuesday night Proctor led a worship concert that encouraged students to trust God and not worry about the future because it is in God’s hands. He shared his personal story of when he was at Biola and the struggles he faced about finding God’s purpose for his life. Proctor stressed the idea of trusting God and putting Him first in order to discover all that He has planned for us.

“[The concert] really helped shift my focus from being stressed out about myself, and school, and back to what is important: to having peace because I am saved through Christ,” sophomore Kelsey Sullivan said.

Overall, this year’s Torrey Conference proved influential to Biola students.

“It’s cool seeing how many people show up and how many people want to be there for it,” sophomore Katrina Poysti said.

Torrey Conference this year had a positive impact on students, leaving them with a relevant message of how to live the Christian life and with help from those around them.

“Instead of the normal ‘pick-me-up,’ [Torrey Conference] was more on discipleship and what Christian students should be like,” said sophomore Colleen Van Houwe. “Instead of being condemning it was more like ‘we know where you are and this is the next step of discipleship.’”

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