The class of 2016 is one of those lucky years that get to experience Urbana twice in their college career.
In my freshman year, I left my home church a burnt out servant leader. I walked into Rutgers University a wide-eyed young'un new to all things college. EVERYTHING amazed me. Thirty fellowships on campus (What do you mean I get to choose which one to attend)?! Everybody crazy about God (what do you mean she's only been saved a year)?! Believers so on fire for God and not bogged down by drama? WOW.
Yet in the middle of all that excitement, I wondered what God's plan was for me. The expectation was that you would figure out what you wanted to major in by the end of freshmen or sophomore year. I wanted to study business, but how did that fit into God's kingdom? A million questions and the whole world of college to explore, where would I even start? So I prayed. And God answered, "Wait."
And so for an entire semester, I waited and watched. I observed how God was working on campus. I listened as believers shared their hearts and passion for serving God. I asked ministry leaders how God was leading them. All the while, I honored God's call to wait. Even when I didn't, He did it for me. Whenever I tried to get the least bit involved, SOMETHING would happen so I was back on the sidelines.
Then came Urbana 12
I won't say that one conference changed everything. But one conference may have changed everything.
For five days, I attended seminars, large sessions, and Bible studies. I absorbed everything that I could. I took so many notes that my pens ran out of ink. When I couldn't absorb anymore, I went to the prayer room for some quiet, had someone pray over me, and went back out again. I was even part of the Business Track to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
It wasn't until the second to last night, though, that God used Urbana to shape my life's direction. As we stood in a stadium filled with sixteen thousand believers, a response time was called. The invitation was to commit to short term missions (2 weeks-3 months), medium term missions (3 months-2 years), or long term missions (2 years or more).
After worship, a call was made for those who had committed to long term missions to stand up. In that one moment, I watched as a third of the stadium rose to answer the call. One third. Thousands of believers, committed to making disciples of the nations.
It was right there that God spoke to my heart. "Look at all these people," He said, "So many answering the call of missions. But who will send them? How will they go?"
It was then that I realized that YES, my passion for business DOES fit into God's kingdom. He gave me this passion to enable believers with the resources to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He would open the doors to the unreached in the most hostile of places through business in a way that won't be done through other means. There, in the company of sixteen thousand believers and thousands of future missionaries, I surrendered my life to God's plans.
Urbana '12 provided me an opportunity to seek God in a season when I was lost. It was a season of my life when God spoke truth into my heart, declaring that even though I am a small blip on the celestial radar, God has a unique and divine plan for me. I would not waste away my college years or my career climbing up a manmade ladder of success, but I would advance the Kingdom of God in my own way.
You may be struggling to find your purpose. You may be struggling, like I was, to see how your passions could possibly fit into God's plan. But you know one thing for sure: For some reason, you are going to Urbana '15.
My invitation to you is this: Don't wait until Urbana to seek. God's presence is here, with you. In these coming months leading up to Urbana, pray. Prepare your heart. Seek Him out. Surrender your struggles. Let Urbana '15 be a time when you have grown so accustomed to His presence that His voice comes to you loud and clear. God is raising up a generation of prayer warriors and passionate believers, and He is inviting you to know your purpose. Together, let's make ready our hearts for His Spirit to move.