One of the highlights from the fall for Abner, my husband, and I was that we both got to preach at Fall Conferences during the weekend of November 1-3—Abner got to preach at a Fall Conference in Northern CA, and I got to preach at Fall Conference for UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and ELAC students at Catalina Island—for about 400 students between the two conferences! It was such an honor.
On Saturday morning at Catalina Island, I preached out of Ezekiel 47 and spoke about the image of the river of God flowing from the temple into the Dead Sea—that wherever the river of God’s presence flows, dead things come alive. The Dead Sea became a place of abundant life!
And there was an invitation for Ezekiel to get in the river and experience God’s presence—to go from ankle deep, to knee deep, to waist deep, to swimming. And I shared with the students that this wasn’t just for Ezekiel, this was something God had for us as well.
At the end of the message, students got to experience this personally, as all 160 students went down and lined up along the beach. When I asked students if they wanted to follow Jesus for the first time, 4 students took of their shoes and stepped into the water. When I asked if students wanted to recommit their lives to Jesus, 35 students took off their shoes and stepped into the water. And when I asked students if they wanted to go deeper into the river of God’s presence, almost all of the 160 students took off their shoes and stepped into the water. Even my 7 year old son, Santiago, decided he wanted to step into the water as he desired to know God more! It was so powerful.
One student who decided to commit her life to Jesus for the first time that day is named Alex. She is a student at East LA College who I met during the 2nd week of the semester. She is 23 and has two young kids and wondered about how to talk to them about God. I encouraged her to start with figuring out what she thought about God, so we began to meet weekly to do a GIG— a God Investigation Group—where she began to discover Jesus in the scripture.
The first week we met, we studied the Wedding at Cana in John 2, and she was floored. She had heard of this passage before, but at the end she couldn’t believe how much was in there. And then I shared the gospel with her, and she was floored again, “How come no one ever explained it to me like this before? If students really understood this message, they would be so interested!” She declared that day her goal was to get baptized and commit to Jesus, she just needed to get to know him first.
Jesus Redeems the Pain in Each of Our Stories
Each week we would meet and discover Jesus, and she would share about her life— how her father had been murdered, how her family had unraveled after this, how her sisters had been in mental hospitals at different points—about the pain she had experienced. But she saw that Jesus was one who humbled himself and stepped into that pain and had the power to redeem her story.
And that Saturday morning during Fall Conference, Alex decided to fulfill her desire to commit her life to Jesus, by stepping into the water and inviting Jesus to into her life—with her mom and her 3 year old daughter, Azul, watching.
Now Alex, her daughter, her mom and her mom’s husband are all starting to attend one of the churches I am partnering with at East LA College. God is not only redeeming Alex’s life, but Alex and her whole household. Thank you, Jesus, that you make dead things come alive again at East LA College and at community colleges across Los Angeles. Take us deeper into your river, oh God!
Molly Ramos is Regional Ministry Coordinator for InterVarsity's Greater Los Angeles Region. She is married, has two children and has been coming to CBS since she was a student at Scripps College. To donate to the ongoing ministry of Campus by the Sea, use the menu item within the About Us link at the top of the page or click here, to Donate to CBS. You can also adopt a new community college or university that needs a prayer walk to expand the ministry to college students who do not yet have a gospel witness on their campus by checking out EveryCampus.