2005 BA in English: Secondary Teaching
Minister, Neighbor, Preacher and Kingdom Builder
Beth Paz shared a message of hope with thousands of college students as plenary speaker at Urbana’s December 2018 conference.
Urbana is sponsored by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), a parachurch ministry that calls college-age students to whole-life discipleship in Christ. Conferences occur every three years and attract 16,000 people from across campuses, ZIP codes and the world to five days of worship, group Bible studies and seminars. Plenary speakers provide a main sermon and call to faith.
When Beth first attended Urbana in December 2003, she had no idea she would one day be the first woman to be that speaker. She was there to find a call to faith in her life, and left with a desire to serve in global missions. She studied abroad in Lithuania and backpacked around Europe, but sought direction again when she returned home. Looking again to IVCF, she found a home at The Pink House, a Fresno internship dedicated to raising urban leaders.
Here she learned the Gospel is about justice as well as evangelism. “That reorientation of the Gospel paradigm rocked my life, and then I was ready when God called me to serve him by staying in urban ministry,” Beth says.
During 11 years with IVCF, Beth ministered to college students and led many to participate in Urbana conferences. In 2016, she moved a couple of blocks east from the Pink House to become the high school director at First Presbyterian Church of Fresno. Her role today is different, but her dedication to urban ministry and passion for young people to experience whole-life discipleship in surrender to Jesus Christ is the same. “I believe that has a powerful energy to change our city and our world,” she says.
Beth honors her commitment to urban ministry by living in Downtown Fresno with her husband, Ivan (MA’15, BA’09), who shapes her heart for justice and partners with her as well as serving in a variety of roles, including co-manager of the Better Blackstone Project. Beth has continued her involvement with Urbana, and in January 2018 she received an unexpected video call from the program director, inviting her to be the plenary speaker for December’s conference.
“I just felt so humbled, and so honored. Really honored. I’m not famous, I haven’t written any books, I’m not the director of an amazing organization,” Beth says. “I think the Lord just put me on her heart.”
Beth preached from Revelation 7:9-17, in which a multitude of believers from all cultural backgrounds worship God in his throne room. Her message reminded the audience that the Kingdom of God is for all people who accept Jesus Christ, who will hold all of the pain and injustice of this world to account. “The Kingdom of Heaven does not reflect Earth, where we are so divided and where we stay in our little monoethnic enclaves,” she says. “The Kingdom of God is diverse, and is for everyone.”
By Francesco Parisi (current student)
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