Ethan Conger grew up in the Alturas area and attended the Alturas Seventh-day Adventist Church. He states that though he attended church, “I never really understood what I was being told or what all of it meant. I drifted away,” and eventually stopped going altogether. Due to this “drift” Ethan sought meaning in various ways. In High School he played football and had a goal to become as strong, fast and mean as possible so he would defeat the other side. He developed a mentality of being willing to do “anything” for his team. This desire to do anything for a team was enhanced further when he enlisted in the military. However, due to some decisions that path did not work out either. Soon, he decided to become a bartender and handle problems with violence if need be. He states that, “Oftentimes after work, me and my ‘friends’ would each drink a large amount of liquor and go searching for trouble. At times, we would nearly kick a door in to find conflict”.
It was during this time of frustration and anger that something very interesting happened. He watched a Joe Rogan Podcast about a flood in North America which began a journey into the “Truths of the earth,” as he put it in his baptismal sermon. He began wondering about the validity of the worldwide flood and some questions as well as some conclusions came to his mind: “Did every culture just have their own little flood and by coincidence made a similar story? Unlikely. Why is this so Important? The idea of a worldwide flood flips everything we have been taught on its head. Everything in school, Media, Scientists-Gone. You must completely re-evaluate every conclusion you have made. You have to re-evaluate How life came to be, our place in the universe, the time that we have been around—You have to shift it all. This is CRUCIAL. The Flood answers Fossil record questions, Human records, all Flood myth records. I began thinking it might be time to check out some stuff on the Grand Canyon. . . I wasn’t exactly trying to prove the Bible, but that was certainly a bi-product of what came next.”
What came next was that Ethan decided to move to Redding, and do MMA-Cage fighting. He thought that if he was going to fight, he “may as well do it legally”. He advanced in the skill of fighting, and also continued his research. While he continued his research on the flood, he also had Adventist family members who encouraged him to watch the program “The Days of Noah” by Laymen Ministries. This gentle form of witnessing would later serve to help him re-engage with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Along with his study of the flood, he also began learning how the Bible was written, and concluded that it was not like other texts. This was a seed that God used to lead to a pivotal moment in his life.
One day, after finishing a Muay Thai class, he began doing pushups in his room. While he was exercising, he had an experience that he would later recall vividly: “Something clicked. A Switch was flipped. It felt as though it was SEARED into my mind ‘There is a God’, and ‘I am not alone.’ It’s still mind-blowing thinking about that moment. It was most certainly not me deciding there was a God. It was Him saying ‘I’m here. I found you. Come find me.’ In that moment I knew that was God himself making himself known, and acknowledging back that I was no longer alone. How did I know that? I didn’t have a clue but concluded that there is a God.”
He began searching the Bible and found that the Bible always explained itself, and never contradicted itself. As he searched the Scriptures, he began to recognize the reality of Jesus, and found the truth about the cross. He believes that, “At the very core, you have a God who came down to teach people to Love. . . A God crying out to the world to come to him. . . Hundreds of prophecies point directly to this Man. The absolute impossibility of his very existence is enough to convince many. Everything in the Bible has a scarlet thread that leads STRAIGHT to Jesus. The first coming, and the Second coming.”
Ethan’s journey continued and not only did he begin interacting more with his family about what he was learning, he requested that his grandma Joy Evans, the Head Elder at the Alturas church, get him in touch with the pastor he knew when he was a child – Bruce Blum. Pastor Bruce Blum studied with Ethan, and Ethan grew both in his understanding and application of the Bible to his life. As a result, he requested to be baptized and made decisions that allowed God to change his life in many ways. Ethan was baptized at the Alturas Seventh-day Adventist Church by Pastor Bruce Blum on November 14, 2020. The day of his baptism, the Church also prayed for Ethan’s future ministry. A ministry that began with his first sermon the day of his baptism and continues weekly as he takes Orientation to Ministry classes from Pastor Murray Miller. During Ethan’s baptism day sermon, Ethan concluded his remarks by saying, “I am fully dedicating my life to a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Wild, eh? I want more people to experience this. I want people on this train. This is the single greatest thing that I have ever experienced. We are in the last few moments of the World as we know it, and everybody needs to know our God, so that when he returns they too will say ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us’. . . It is time to get ready. Get in your Bibles. Do not look back, and remember that ‘God is Love’’.
Synthesized from Ethan Conger’s sermon manuscript and recollections.
Murray Miller will be a contributor and the moderator, but many can help to shape the content.