“[Bible Conference] is to learn more about God and serve Him better,” said Derek Hammond (MI), a freshman studying management. “You have to prepare yourself going into it.”
Pensacola Christian College changed things up at the 49th Bible Conference. Students took the reins and started the three-day event with a prayer and praise service, where student and guest speakers challenged the student body to prepare for what the week could give them spiritually. “[The Student Prayer and Praise Service] was great for helping us get ready for the week and made us realize this isn’t just a time off school,” Derek Hammond (Fr., MI) said.
Emma Pajak (Jr., IL) reminded her fellow students of the blessings she had received from previous Bible Conferences. “As I look back on last year’s Bible Conference, I remember a lesson that the Lord taught me: I learned that we should glorify God,” Emma said to the student body during the service. “I already knew that whatever we do should glorify God, but specifically, that we should glorify God even in the mundane.”
Western Picnic and Relaxation
Following the prayer and praise service, students made a beeline for Eagle Field where a “Western Roundup” themed picnic awaited them. Guests and students enjoyed their special picnic boxes atop blankets and towels or strolled the grounds as different PCC singing groups sang folksy favorites. Across the field, students stopped by concession stands for free picnic foods like corn dogs, lemonade, chips and corn salsa, ice cream, and s’mores.
“A lot of people just come out and have fun. And without classes, it helps people calm down and enjoy what the school provided.”
Picnickers also took time for some welcome recreation. Many tried their hand at field games or took on challenges like axe throwing, mechanical bull riding, and Nerf target shooting. Others enjoyed the easy-going attractions, such as the hayride or watching volunteer artisans stitch quilts and weave baskets. “It’s relaxing,” Brandon Swindle (Jr., AR) said. “A lot of people just come out and have fun. And without classes, it helps people calm down and enjoy what the school provided.”
Spiritual Rest and Growth
As Bible Conference proceeded, students appreciated the messages delivered by guest speakers Pastor Matt Allen of Capital City Baptist Church (Papua New Guinea), Dr. Johnny Pope of Christchurch Baptist Fellowship (TX), Pastor Tim Butler of People’s Baptist Church (SC), and Dr. Scott Tewell of Rosedale Baptist Church (MD). The first service included a commemorative video celebrating Pensacola Theological Seminary’s 25th anniversary. Meanwhile, many people around the world interested in the conference watched via livestream or tuned into the PCC podcast to hear the recorded messages.
Dr. Johnny Pope’s message on doubt led Susannah Hoffman (Fr., VA) to change her major to an area of study she believes is more in line with what God wants for her life. “He started his introduction by talking about how many young people are deconstructing their faith because they don’t have anyone to answer their questions, and people are not going in and really helping them work through those things,” Susannah said. “Right now, [God is] directing me toward youth ministries with an emphasis in biblical counseling, and I’m super excited about it.”
Christie Pierre’s (Fr., Haiti) favorite part of Bible Conference was the spiritual encouragement the event offered through uplifting music and preaching. “I enjoy how God speaks directly through the person standing on the stage, and I love how the people on stage are humble enough to know ‘this isn’t me,’” she said. “Being there with my friends, we can sit together and listen to God’s Word together.”
A new opportunity students enjoyed Friday afternoon was choosing to attend one of three breakout sessions: “History of Authentic Revival” by Dr. Pope, “World Missions” by Pastor Allen, and “Biblical Worldview in the 21st Century” by Dr. Tewell. “I enjoyed the historical viewpoint of all the church history. It’s very interesting,” said Caleb Matthews (So., TX) after attending Dr. Pope’s session. “I also happen to be the speaker’s grandson, so I’m a little biased, but aside from that, it’s a very interesting topic. I feel like people should hear more about it because there’s so much depth to it.”
Challenged to Glorify
As Bible Conference reached its end, each speaker encouraged students to take what God had given them and use it to glorify Him. “His glory is infinite, and one day we will more fully appreciate that,” said Pastor Matt Allen. “But in the meantime, [I’d like to] encourage you to take moments for yourself to glorify God.”
“His glory is infinite, and one day we will more fully appreciate that.”
Students have already shown a desire to apply the conference messages to their lives. “What really touched my heart was the message on stewarding your faith,” said Michael McDaniel (So., GA). “I find that many times I read about the things in God’s Word, but I always separate it from myself like, ‘Oh, that was for them. God can’t really do that for me.’ That message really spoke to my heart to try God’s Word because God is faithful.”
This year’s Bible Conference resulted in spiritual growth and students learning spiritual truths that will guide their futures. College President Troy Shoemaker opened the final service by thanking the speakers and students who participated. He said, “It’s been a great Bible Conference. Most importantly we need to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was great to hear Him speak through His Word the last couple of days.”