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January 2, 2013

Urbana '12 Reflections

InterVaristy Christian Fellowship is a mission minded, interdenominational, cross-cultural ministry that ministers to college students all over the globe.  Marie and I were first introduced to IVCF at our college, Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  For those of you who know Marie's and my college story, you know that our experience with our local chapter was a bit rough but my Junior year of college I heard about Urbana, the global student missions conference held every 3 years right here in St. Louis.  I knew that I enjoyed Cedar Campus, a meeting of the chapters from the region every summer, so I figured I would check out Urbana.  A small group from our chapter went to Urbana '09 and Marie and I both fell in love.

During that conference my heart was ripped apart and ached so badly as I learned about how very much alive and flourishing slavery and human trafficking industry is to this day.  I heard story after story of women trapped is sex slavery in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and a bunch of other countries including the United States.  I also learned of children forced into heard labor all over the world making bricks or going into the forest to gather coco or making products for our consumeristic ways.  I also learned of the tragedy of kids also being kidnapped from their homes and taken and forced to fight for ruthless dictators.  The theme for this conference was "Incarnational Living" and based in the Gospel of John.  They encouraged us to go to work in the mission field to live and work among those we were helping both here and abroad.

Three years later, Urbana '12 came around and Marie and I were more than prepared.  We both volunteered as Stewards meaning we were helping out all week, and on call when we didn't have an assignment.  If we weren't working, we were free to attend whatever parts of the conference that we wished.  This year the theme was "The Great Invitation" based in the Gospel of Luke.  The central motif was the invitation to God's banquet.  They asked, "Are you ready to accept God's invitation to His banquet?"  I learned even more about missions and I have been convinced that Marie and I are not being called to a comfortable living.  I do not yet know where we are to be called, all I know is that I am supposed to finish my seminary training and then who knows where God will call me from there.  I always thought it would still be within the United States, but there are so many people out there who don't even know the name of Christ much less what He has done for them.  There are so many people hurting and suffering and need someone to come live alongside them and be Christ's witness to them.  I don't know if we will be called overseas, or if we will be called to a congregation here in the United States that raises up missionaries and cultivates lifestyles of missional living.  I don't know, but I am both terrified and excited to see what God's plans are for our lives.

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