Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor, commenced Biola University’s chapel series dedicated to the sanctity of human life, on Monday, April 20, 2009. The week, April 20 to 25, titled “Priceless? The Value of Human Life” is a week of opportunity and chapel sessions for students to hear about the sanctity of life related to current issues in America and around the world. The sessions were mainly focused on abortion and euthanasia. 

The chapel series was a collaboration between the department of chapel programs, the department of spiritual life, the Associated Students chapel board, and the Defending Human Value club.

“We met last fall to pray through, brainstorm and discern what relevant issues we might address and help to equip our students with a biblical worldview,” said Lisa Ishihara, director of chapel programs. “We came to the conclusion to consider how we are to value human life from conception through physical death.”

Jessen, an abortion survivor whose life has been covered by major news media outlets and has spoken before the House of Commons in London and before Congress several times, spoke during chapel at 9:30 a.m. in Chase Gymnasium on Monday. During one of the most riveting chapels thus far this year, she not only shared her testimony, but called students to action.

“Gianna's personality is as amazing as her story.  She wasn't afraid to be open, candid, and impassioned with her audience, and they in turn opened up to her,” said Autumn Hinrichs, president of the Defending Human Value club.

Although, Jessen has cerebral palsy, she is adamant that this is a gift. Despite her limp when she walks, her life is truly a miracle. She was born alive even though her biological mother had a saline abortion, therefore burning Jessen for 17 hours prior to birth. After being diagnosed with cerebral palsy a few months after birth, doctors said she would be a vegetable ­— unable to move or walk on her own. With the help of her adoptive grandmother, at the time her foster parent, she was able to walk with leg braces and a walker before the age of four. Now, she has run in multiple marathons.

“I think her message really reached the students' hearts.  I have never seen so many students line up to talk with a chapel speaker before,” said Hinrichs.

She made an impact on the students, not simply regarding the abortion issue, but called them to be willing to live for God in a dangerous way. She encouraged students to not be apathetic and addressed the men by stating they were made for greatness and calling women to walk with grace and love.

After Jessen’s message in chapel on Monday, there was an apologetics luncheon discussion from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Café Banquet Room with Mihretu Guta discussing the question, “should we legislate morality?” focusing on euthanasia, abortion and sexual practices. 

“Because Christians have the only truly redemptive response to abortion, we feel that it is crucial to educate Christian students so that they can effectively and winsomely change hearts and minds about abortion and the value of human life, said Hinrichs.”

Tuesday, April 21, from 8 to 10 p.m., Rachelle Flores from the Women’s Pregnancy Center equipped students to minister to friends who are facing pregnancy.

On Wednesday, April 22, Dr. Scott Rae spoke in chapel at 9:30 a.m. in Chase Gymnasium on euthanasia. His message titled, “Death with Dignity,” looked at ethics at the end of life. Laurie Ishii shared her continued story from a series on human trafficking she spoke on a few weeks prior to Wednesday. She will spoke in Calvary Chapel during After Dark chapel.

Laverne Tolbert spoke on the crises of urban abortions on Thursday, April 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Café Banquet Room. Friday, April 24, J.P. Moreland laid out a basic case for a profile view of abortion starting with natural moral law during chapel at 9:30 a.m. in Chase Gymansium.

Closing the week will be a training seminar on Saturday, April 25 with speaker David Lee from Justice for All, a criminal justice reform organization. The seminar, “Abortion: From Debate to Dialogue,” will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in room 220 in the Crowell School of Business.  

“Defending Human Value's vision for Sanctity of Life week was to engage the Biola community in meaningful thought and dialogue about the dignity of human life, and to equip our students to communicate a compassionate pro-life message to our culture that so desperately needs it,” said Hinrichs.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at