Alum encourages CBU community to ‘Walk with Grace’ amidst trials and hardships

Riverside, Calif. (March 26, 2024) – Grace Utomo (‘15, ‘19) and her husband, Ivan (‘17), visited California Baptist University to share their story about trusting in God’s goodness despite incredible hardship.

This week was the first time they had been on campus since December 2016, when their hard journey began. Back then the two were newlyweds, accomplished musicians and Grace worked at CBU in the College of Health Science.

Grace was meeting Ivan to drive to a Christmas concert. As she crossed Magnolia Avenue, sheet music and violin in hand, she was hit by a car going 40 mph. Life it would never be the same.

The accident was so severe that she was placed in a medically induced coma. When she woke a week later, she did not know how to read, speak or walk. Over the course of the next five years Grace would fix her eyes upon God as she endured immense physical and emotional pain.

Visiting from Northern California, the couple spoke to the general Lancer community and to two classes, sharing their story on March 25-26.

“As Christians, we have the belief that God is sovereign, and God is good,” Grace said. “So, when something bad happens, what are we supposed to believe?” 

Psalm 139: 7-12 brought great comfort in this difficult time, Grace said.

“At some point in our lives we are all going to walk through a period of darkness, and I think that is just part of what it means to be human,” Grace said.

Grace underwent extensive rehabilitation treatment to help her learn once familiar skills all over again.

She suffered a traumatic brain injury from the accident that caused seizures, upward of 10 per day. Her seizures were triggered by light, and she was unable to go outside for fear of triggering an episode. She was bound to her home, unable to see the light in what felt like a never-ending darkness.

“You have to trust the Lord with His plan, whatever you are going through, have been through or may go through in the future,” she told the audience.

Grace and her community of support prayed endlessly for her seizures to subside. She was eventually weaned off medication and has been seizure free since September 2023.

“The darkness we go through is not dark to the Lord,” Grace said. “It is as bright as day to Him, whether you can see it in the moment or not.”

The only way they made it through that time was through the grace of God, Ivan said.

“This taught me what it truly means to rely on Him,” Ivan said. “I think maybe we as humans tend to overestimate the amount of control or influence we might have over our lives, and now looking back on that time we had no idea how we did it and the only possible explanation is the grace of God.”

Alum encourages CBU community to ‘Walk with Grace’ amidst trials and hardships To read more about her incredible story, Grace’s book is available for purchase at CBU’s bookstore and on Amazon.

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504