This year, almost 50 people from our church went to the triennial Urbana Missions Conference in St. Louis from December 27-31. This year’s version of Urbana, like the previous editions put on by Intervarsity, was both informative and inspiring. The focus is on setting forth the heart of God and His call for us to go into all the world and make disciples for Jesus Christ. Here are a few of the reactions from those who went:
“Urbana was, for me, a time of silencing the other voices in my life in order to hear God speak. While many of the particulars are yet to be revealed, God used Urbana to reignite my passion for mission.” Hannah Baker
“Urbana was a great eye opening experience to see how God is working in the world and how we can use our gifts for God’s glory – I never knew God can work in so many unique and creative ways.” Jack Nespor
“Urbana just makes me want to follow and chase after God even more because He dwelt among us and made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so my life is a small thing I can give in appreciation to Him. I love what one of the missionaries said about “living to be forgotten.” It challenges me to live completely for God’s glory and for the rest of my time in college. That is my new goal.” Sydney Morgan
“By the end of the week, barriers of selfish desire, lust, unwillingness, jealousy, and anger that I had put up around my heart were torn down. Some of these walls I had been living with for many years and some had only begun in the recent months to trip me up. This opened up a wide channel of communication with God and I was wonderfully fed through the seeking of Him in his word every morning, worshiping in different languages alongside 17,000 other believers, hearing how many other believers around the world were living out their faith and so much more; through this the Holy Spirit’s presence was made very powerful. Seeing Jesus Christ anew was the greatest result of my time at Urbana.” Michael Tennant
“I believe that my wife and I received a powerful confirmation of our call to work in the Middle East, after attending several seminars on issues that are central for Palestinian Christians and all Christians in the Middle East. We aim to keep moving towards cross-cultural dwelling, hoping most of all to learn from Christians around the globe and becoming, alongside them, the new humanity that Jesus has in mind.” Brett (and Janelle) Stuvland
“I was broken to see how much need there is in the world, and how many un-reached places there are in need of the gospel and in need of healing. It felt impossible, and then hope flooded over me as I looked around and saw how many of God’s children were going, and working toward solutions.” Lisi Anderson
“Worshipping and learning with 17,000 people from across the country and even the world was amazing, and I’m sure the closest to heaven I’ll get before God brings me home!” Lauren Serpa
There were many fantastic speakers at the plenary sessions. There are a few in particular that I’d recommend you watch. (Almost all of the main sessions are now online.) In my mind, the most powerful ones were:
• Michael Oh used his own history of anger toward the Japanese to explain that reconciliation begins with a personal conviction of sin. As a Korean-American pastor and missionary to Japan, he has learned that we who are loved undeservedly must love unreservedly.
• Sunder Krishnan, pastor of Rexdale Alliance Church in Toronto, Ontario, called us to intercede in big and bold ways as the church in Acts 4.
• Antoine Rutayisire, Rwandan Team Leader of the African Enterprise, spoke about his experience during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Using Jesus’s example of forgiving his enemies while on the cross, he challenged attendees to let go of their anger and bitterness and seek Christ-like reconciliation.
• Patrick Fung, president of Overseas Mission Fellowship (OMF), was interviewed by Urbana 09’s emcee Greg Jao. He called the church to humble service to God.
Thank you, church family, for supporting us and sending so many of us to attend Urbana 09! May God continue to impress upon us the importance of taking the gospel into our neighborhoods-– both here in Santa Barbara and throughout the world!