You know you are a #InterVarsityBaby if any of the following are true for you: You never had a bedtime because your parents hung out late with college students, you committed yourself to following Jesus at an InterVarsity event as an elementary school student, and every three years your parents left you with grandparents the day after Christmas and disappeared to a magical place called Urbana.
I'm a #InterVarsityBaby. The first time my parents ever left me overnight for anything was because they were going to Urbana. As long as I can remember, Urbana has been part of my vocabulary both as the name of my hometown (Urbana, IL) and the name of this InterVarsity conference I would get to attend when I was finally old enough.
Attending Urbana as a #InterVarsityBaby is both wonderful and weird. Here's why:
Urbana is a Family Affair:
This year, my entire family is here in St. Louis, even though my parents are no longer on InterVarsity staff. I think my parents decided that if my brother and I were going to be here, they might as well join the fun as volunteers. For the #InterVarsityBabies I know, sharing your Urbana experience with your whole family is not uncommon. At least we don't have to try to explain everything to our family when we get home!
Urbana is a IV Family Reunion:
So oddly enough, staff workers know each other. And if your family history with InterVarsity goes back about 25 years, then the likelihood that you can walk anywhere in this crowd of 16,000 people and find someone you know is pretty high. I remember trying to walk through the exhibit hall at Urbana 12 with my father – we didn't get very far because we kept running into friends we hadn't seen in a while and stopping to catch up. For a #InterVarsityBaby these reunions come with many versions of “Wow, you've grown so much since...” or “Great to see you, how are your parents?” Typical reunion stuff plus great questions about how God is working in our lives. You have to love your InterVarsity family!
You are finally an Urbana Participant:
Urbana 15 is the eighth Urbana to occur during my lifetime. I heard about this conference for more than eighteen years before I could finally attend Urbana 12 as a college freshman. I've flipped through Urbana 87 Bibles, listened to Urbana talks from before video recordings were made, and worn Urbana T-shirts from the early 2000s. I've watched my parents and many college students go off to Urbana and return with stories of how God moved and spoke and how their lives were transformed. It's weird and wonderful to finally be able to participate myself. It is strange because so much of Urbana has been built into my life by my parents and the students around me, and yet at Urbana I encounter those ideas for myself in new ways and with a new call to respond.
The experience of a #InterVarsityBaby at Urbana might be a little unique, but I think many of these things hold true for all participants. Your family in Christ is gathered here for both a reunion of epic proportions and an experience that will challenge us with a picture of God's call to mission and many opportunities to respond. I can't wait to get things started tonight!