Two weeks ago, I spent an hour on the sidewalk listening to my friend firmly assure me that she was NOT going to Urbana. She was not interested, not called, not ready, and definitely not going.
Last week, I spent an hour on that same sidewalk jumping up and down with a giant smile on my face as that same friend told me that she knew, for sure, that she needed to go to Urbana. God had given her a change of heart regarding missions, and we could only laugh in amazement at how adamantly against attending Urbana she had been only seven days before.
I thought I would let her share with you how God changed her mind:
Though I had grown up in church, I had never felt called to go on mission. I had always felt like God calls certain people to go on mission and others he calls to love those within the community. I knew for sure that I was called to stay within my community and serve those around me. So anytime I had the opportunity to serve through a mission trip, I always declined because I was absolutely certain that it was not my call.
When my InterVarsity community introduced me to Urbana, I was certain it was not for me. “No, absolutely not,” I told myself. “Why would I go to a missions conference when I know God has called me to serve within my community? Clearly God is not calling me be a part of global missions.”
My close friend and mentor, however, were adamant that I at least pray about it and consider the idea of God’s mission being outside of my comfort zone. I prayed. I tried to stay open-minded. But I truly didn’t hear anything from God. I did not have the desire to go, and I did not feel called to go. I didn’t want to register unless I had a clear reason to go since I have had really tough emotional experiences at previous conferences. I didn’t want to put myself through all of that again for nothing.
So I found myself saying, “No, absolutely not.” I was extremely convinced that there was nothing anyone could say or do to change my mind. There was just absolutely no way that I was going to Urbana. My mind and my heart were closed off, and I was convinced. People urged me to reconsider, but I told them if God wanted me to go to Urbana he would have to do something radical to change my mind.
Over the weekend I’d like to say that I wasted my time with God. I indulged myself in worship, and as God began softening my heart, I went to the Urbana webpage. I watched a few videos from Urbana 12. After a few hours of watching worship and speakers, I decided maybe it was time that I prayed one last time about Urbana. I can’t exactly explain the feeling that came over me, but it was an overwhelming desire and need to be at Urbana this year.
...I decided maybe it was time that I prayed one last time about Urbana. I can’t exactly explain the feeling that came over me, but it was an overwhelming desire and need to be at Urbana this year.
I heard God tell me that he has been waiting to launch me into the next part of my calling, but that since I was stubborn about the idea of missions, he has not been able to fulfill that. God melted the hardness off of my heart and made me realize that not only do I need to be at Urbana, but that I really want to be there. I suddenly had this strong desire to go, and I couldn’t believe I had not wanted to go before.
Now I ask myself, “Why didn’t I want to go to Urbana? What was it that was holding me back? Why was I standing in the way of God’s calling for my life?” I have no good answers to any of those questions, but I know one thing for sure: this year I WILL BE AT URBANA 15!! I still can’t believe it, but I am extremely excited to go and I can’t imagine not being there!
I share this story because each person going to Urbana has a different story, a different way that God invited them to spend five days considering his mission and his calling. Is God inviting you to join us at Urbana? What is your story?