Nicole Heath

Some were made with tears and some after only brief prayers but regardless of how they were made, they were in fact made. I’m talking about the commitments we made at Urbana when Tom Lin invited us to make a decision and respond to God’s call. I think for many of us it was much easier to make such a commitment than it is to keep it. While in St. Louis it didn’t take much imagination to envision myself leading a cross cultural bible study. I was surrounded by missionaries, fed the word of God daily, and encouraged to indulge in the rich world of cross cultural missions.

Today was big day. Important, life changing decisions were made. People decided to give their life to Christ while others made the commitment to serve God in global or cross cultural missions. I had seen footage from past Urbana conferences and I knew there would be a response, but sitting there in the dome watching so many students declare that they were willing to give God not just their Sunday mornings, but their lives was absolutely daunting. After they stood and we joined Tom Lin in prayer, I could tangible feel the prayer of the thousands in the study.

So far at Urbana the things that have stuck out to me most have been the steps needed before becoming a missionary. A common theme, courtesy of both Calisto Odede and Chai Ling, is that I have to deal with my own sin and brokenness before I can help anyone else. This seems obvious for how can I  preach of Christ unless I know Him and have been transformed by Him? What this idea did bring up to me was the question of whether this extends to where we as Christians work. As Christians we have to not only need to deal with our own personal problems but also the issues in our communities before we rush across the sea into a new battleground. In terms of charity or volunteer work, I think this gets lost.     

One of the things that a friend of mine who could not make it to Urbana said was that she hated the fact that she would miss out on all the resources and contacts available. Though this wasn’t a big reason for me wanting to come, I can see what she means. Some of the best information I have gotten thus far has been from speaking one-on-one to people I have come across at morning bible study and at seminars. The more conversations I have the more resources I get. This makes sense, but this type of networking has never been my forte.

One of the things I am beginning to notice about the seminars is that I’m getting more information than I expected. During the 3:30 to 4:30 seminar period I attended the New Paradigms of Jewish Ministry session with Aaron Trank. There I was able to learn more about evangelizing to the Jewish community and even a little information about Jews For Jesus. What surprised me was the equation for calling that Trank explained during the end of this talk. The equation: Calling= conviction + passion + opportunity.

Yesterday started at 3am with what I dubbed the most annoying ringtone ever created. What followed was a lot of last minute packing, driving in the rain, picking up fellow travelers, more driving in the rain this time on the Atlantic City Expressway.  By the time I took my seat on the plane I was exhausted and irritable thanks to long lines, multiple gate changes, and expensive airport food.

Christmas time seems the most inappropriate time for a tragedy such as the massacre at Sandy Hook. No one wants to think about death while preparing for the nation’s favorite holiday. Why look at the horror of this world when you are trying to celebrate the good? When I first caught a glimpse of the new headline about a school shooting I immediately scrolled down the page away from that link. I had exams on my mind and was already struggling to remember that it was a holiday season.

There is no greater time to learn how to prioritize than when facing finals. All of a sudden it is as if life becomes a hospital emergency room, where a triage system is necessary. The most life threatening (or gpa threatening) classes get the attention first, the rest wait until there is enough time to fit them in. Meeting up with friends loses its importance, and even reading Bible seems to be swapped with rereading the professor’s dense powerpoints.

I ran into a surprise earlier today while at a global health fair. As I meandered through the aisles, looking at posters from students who had conducted clinical work around the world, I ran into a poster that had a small, discreet Jesus fish in the acknowledgments section.  Of course I had to ask 

When I think about peace, my first thought is not the peace illustrated in the Bible. Peace, in my mind, and I think the mind of many other people, is almost synonyms with security. Not the security in God, but that which I get from knowing the bills are paid and I still have money in the bank. It’s a peace found in money; knowing I have or can earn it. Financial security is the source of peace for most people, even over having a powerful army or a strong leader. It’s this peace that many Christians students feel is in jeopardy when we hear the word missions.

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