Welcome to Urbana 15! The Urbana Team has been preparing for this week for so long, and we are incredibly excited you’re here!
My own Urbana experience in 2006 was a game changer for me! It gave me a bigger picture of God and of what it means to be part of the global family of believers. It challenged me to name the places in my life where I was content with doing things my way and to lay down my own personal dreams for the sake of God’s greater mission. In fact, it was at Urbana 06 that I decided to join staff with InterVarsity—a job that I love and am still doing today. I pray that your Urbana experience will be just as life-changing.
I’m especially excited about a few really unique aspects of Urbana. First, I’m excited about the potential impact of 16,000 people gathered to create space to hear from the Lord about his work in the world. Second, I’m excited about the opportunity and privilege we have to hear from and be invited into partnership with the global Church. I got to hear early versions of speakers’ talks from the main stage, so I know that you are definitely in for some powerful truths and stories! Third, I’m excited about the many ways to engage God that you’ll find here, from worship, performing arts pieces, and speakers to seminars, missions agencies, and Roommate Huddles. There are so many ways to experience God at Urbana.
That means that Urbana can also be a little overwhelming. Pacing yourself is key. These tips can help you navigate the week well:
- Take time to look through the Urbana Handbook/App today. Go over the schedule, pick seminars, and highlight things you want to check out. Because there are a lot of opportunities here, it helps to have a plan!
- Be open. You will be hearing from diverse voices and perspectives. And they will have words that you need to hear. Don’t automatically tune them out. God can speak and challenge you through them if you allow them access.
- Connect with people different from you. Hear their stories. Pray with them. Learn from them.
- Get rest! Seriously. It’s a full week, so put yourself in a position to hear from God.
Be open. You will be hearing from diverse voices and perspectives. And they will have words that you need to hear. Don’t automatically tune them out. God can speak and challenge you through them if you allow them access.
I’ve been praying for you and for this week that we have together. I’m praying that you all would have an encounter with the living God, and would hear and respond to his voice. I’m also praying that this student generation would go out from here and be change agents on their campuses, in their communities, and around the world. And I’m praying that we would have a deeper vision for partnership and a better understanding of what it means to be the global body of Christ—of rejoicing with those who rejoice but also truly mourning with those who mourn.
Would you join me in praying those same prayers, for yourself and for all those gathered here? You might also use this short prayer as you move through each day: “Lord, help me be open to all you want to do in and through me this week.”
God can do incredible things through people who are surrendered to him and open to whatever he calls them to. May that be true of us all at Urbana 15.