Students were challenged to face suffering with God at Biola University’s 74th annual Torrey Memorial Bible Conference, Oct. 19-23, 2009. As commenced in 1935 and named after Biola’s first Dean, R.A. Torrey, one week each October is dedicated to enriching student’s education with truth and biblical wisdom, aside from their normal daily lives. Classes are cancelled and students attend sessions, this year focused on suffering. 

“In the age of CNN, Google and YouTube, we are witnesses to suffering wherever and whenever it happens, day and night. As a result, we are ever aware of our smallness and weakness against the overwhelming need. How do we, mere specks on the human map, respond?” said Biola Associate Dean of Spiritual Development, Todd Pickett.

This year speakers, Tremper Longman, Kay Warren, Rev. Adrian De Visser and Francis Chan addressed, through biblically grounded wisdom, personal suffering and God’s presence, how to walk alongside others who are suffering and global suffering.

Longman, professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College and accomplished author of more than twenty books, started the week off with a discussion of how the Psalms help Christians speak honestly to God. Warren, author and founder of HIV/AIDS Initiative at Saddleback Church and co-founder of Saddleback Church with her husband, Rick, spoke on Wednesday regarding treasures and God’s promises in darkness and suffering. De Visser, Lausanne International deputy director for South Asia and founder and senior pastor of Kithu Sevana Ministries in Sri Lanka, spoke Thursday evening on hope in the midst of suffering.

Friday morning, Chan, founder of Eternity Bible College and pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley as well as author of the highly regarded book, Crazy Love as recently featured in Christianity Today, closed the conference.

“I hope you guys have not lost the art of being alone with God, being unplugged from everything,” said Chan, who challenged students to turn their phones and laptops off, to sit alone and spend time with God. “There is something so beautiful when you just are alone with Him.”

He spoke on the joys of suffering and challenged students to find God and live for Him, even when others say they are crazy, he said if the Holy Spirit is leading them, go with it.

“There may be times when you are wrong, but it is better to be wrong, than to live safely,” said Chan.

Reflection times were built into this year’s conference schedule, a new element encouraging students to reflect and pray over their own suffering and what they learn in sessions. Biola’s new Soul Care ministry team was also at every session available to pray for students.

“For it is our desire not only to instruct, but also to lead you to God himself, who is our Teacher, our Comforter, and our Salvation,” said Pickett.

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