Though this was my third Urbana conference, second as a staff, it never ceases to encourage and move me at seeing thousands of young people who are ready to be sent out to be a part of God's mission. The energy, passion and faith of the Urbana community is overwhelming. I thank God that I get to be a part of this event and have a part in helping students experience God in such a powerful way.
Working backstage was quite different from my past 2 Urbanas. I spent much less time with students and in sessions. But I also got to see the hard work that was happening behind the scenes, which gives me a greater appreciation for the people I work with and those who spent months and years preparing for this in advance. Many of them have thankless jobs, but I am very thankful for them. Patrick Fung, one of the Urbana speakers, mentioned in his interview that God's mission is often carried by the nameless workers who give their lives to serve God. I believe I work with many of these nameless workers and I'm blessed to benefit from their quiet faithfulness. It is a challenge to me, as I serve in a role that is often uncredited, to strive to make Christ known and not myself (another quote from Patrick Fung's interview. You can watch his interview from Day 2 of Urbana here.)
I survived many moments of being frustrated and stressed out during Urbana. One thing I know about myself is that I get easily irritated when something is not done efficiently when there could have been an easy solution. Working on the Urbana Today newspaper was not as organized as I would have wanted. I'm compiling a mental list of 'things to improve for next time' - God-willing I will still be around by then! I guess I'm sharing this to let you know that even though I am serving in ministry, I still deal with my own sinfulness in the process! It's definitely a learning curve and I pray that God will help me learn to be more gracious and patient.
Urbana was also a time of reunions. I got to see coworkers from Ann Arbor and the Great Lakes East region, as well as former students and fellow alumni from AIV and twelve students from my home church, CBC (pictured above)! I had a lot of fun catching up with them. It would have been nice to have more time for fellowship but Urbana is such a full, busy week, especially for staff, that this was pretty difficult. Still, I love that Urbana is a place that brings together people who are from all over the place!
Here are some things you can be praying for in the days and weeks ahead:
- rest! I am exhausted, as are many of the other staff. Please pray that we will be refreshed and renewed.
- protection. after a 'mountain top' experience such as Urbana, students will be especially vulnerable in these days ahead. pray that God will protect them from spiritual attack, as the enemy wishes to snatch away whatever good things happened at Urbana.
- confirmation. thousands of students answered God's call to be sent into missions at Urbana! pray for the Spirit to confirm this decision in tangible ways for them.
- re-entry. after experiencing a glimpse of heaven (a huge multitude of people who love God in community for five days), it can be difficult to go back to the mundane, the difficult, the worldly places we live in day to day. please pray God will help us re-enter our lives in a way that doesn't lose what was gained at Urbana, but enables us to engage with the world around us.
- action. many students made decisions at Urbana. please pray that they would carry out these decisions, and as a result that God's kingdom would advance in all corners of the earth!