I am always in awe at how God uses the Urbana Student Mission Conference to transform students lives and commission them for His purposes generation after generation.
In particular, I love how Urbana brings together the big, global nature of God’s Kingdom with the deeply, personal everyday challenges of students following Jesus. Below you will read real stories from real students who were transformed at Urbana and how they experience deep personal healing as they are being sent out into the world for God’s purposes.
I went to Urbana hoping God would speak to me about where he wants s me to go after graduation, what kind of job to take, what state or country to be in. Of course, God knew what I needed to hear from him and of course, that wasn’t it. Instead, God revealed to me the state of my heart. I live in fear of disappointing God, my parents, those whom I love and respect. I live to constantly prove that I am worthy of being loved. God showed me what I needed: to believe that he loved me unconditionally and that there was nothing I could do to make him love me less or more.
This is a big message that I know needs time to seep into my heart, mind and life. I am honestly in the midst of struggling with the idea of not being “good enough” (aka perfect) and believing that God loves me abundantly anyway. He is teaching me to believe and trust in him and his love and feel the safety and confidence in that truth so that I may live with him and live for him.
At the moment, I am living day to day learning to be okay with not being in control of my future job or spouse and trusting that God is in control and does want what is best for me. I am learning to be okay with not being as loving, accepting, understanding and patient the way I wish I could be and learning that God loves and accepts me anyway. I am learning to trust that God is with me and is at work even as I get frustrated from not being able to hear from him whenever I want, when I feel like I failed on my part, when I am not 100% able to trust him and believe in the truth of his love because God’s grace is bigger than all of that.
God really showered me with His holy and awesome love at Urbana. Through the worship and through all the seminars and messages about His banquet that He invited me (an undeserving outcast) to come and take part of, I really felt how God loved me so much. And He really showed me how much He wanted me to spread this love out to campus. Also at Urbana, God clearly showed me my “Mongolia” for the next 4 years – the Northwestern community. After coming back from Urbana, I really have a new heart for reaching out to the community, and I hope God will be able to bring many of my lost friends to His wonderful banquet.
Through the speakers, especially at the seminars, I was able to see a picture of the work that God is doing through jobs and careers that aren’t as prevalent in the church. It was at Urbana that I felt sure that God loves the academic and academia. I learned that through academia, Christians have a great opportunity to influence the daily lives of people through policy changes, better programs, and simply by the education of some of the brightest minds. Knowing this has changed my trajectory—rather than graduating early, I plan to take some of the time I have as an undergraduate to explore other parts of academia and research in order to confirm this path that I have chosen. I am happily embracing academia and research and challenging myself to be missional in my academic field and goals.
When I went to Urbana, I wasn’t in the best state of mind. Right before arriving in St. Louis, I was in California with my family. It was our first Christmas without my dad, who had passed away suddenly from a stroke in September. My mom was sad that I was leaving so early, and I couldn’t help but think that I should be home with my mom who could not bare being by herself. I wasn’t the only one who attended Urbana in this state though. One speaker at Urbana experienced the same pain I was feeling during her first Urbana many years ago. She started off her talk saying that she knows there were some people in the audience who came to Urbana were not in the right place emotionally. She shared about how when she came to Urbana, her dad had recently passed away and her mom was battling cancer. With her opening thought, she immediately caught my attention.
I can’t share many details about this speaker because her work is in a sensitive region of the world, but I can say that she was an inspiring woman and a true follower of Jesus. I learned that our Jesus is worth following under all circumstances. She was able to continue to follow Jesus and obey her calling despite her father’s death and mother’s battle, despite her desire to raise her daughters in a safe environment, despite the murder of her husband. I felt challenged by her ability to deny her desires, comfort, and pain in order to live for Jesus and his mission for us. Could I do the same? She was just one of the many speakers who showed me what living for Jesus really looks like. It wasn’t meant to be easy, but it was meant to always be worthwhile. As I continue my walk with God, I can hope for the same obedience that she has. I pray that I can come to a point where I deny all of me for the work that He wants me to do.
Pray for these students and the thousands others who had life-transforming experiences at Urbana. Pray that God would continue to water the seeds that were planted and that it would bear long-term fruit.