Urbana Stories

Below are just a few of the life changing stories from Urbana. What has God done in your life through Urbana? Let others know.


I was able to attend Urbana 84 and God used Urbana to confirm the call he had placed on my life to work see the fulfillment of Revelation 7:9. I’ve served as a missionary in the Philippines since 1989.


I first attended Urbana in 1970, a year after I became a Christian at Cedar Campus. I remember John Stott’s expositions of John 17 and Paul Little’s talk on Knowing God’s Will.

I went with Operation Mobilization several times, and eventually went to Europe for 2 years working with George Verwer.

I met, worked with, and married Eva Edvinsson. Now we have 5 children and God willing, my oldest will go to her first Urbana. Life has come full circle, praise the Lord! Let the nations be glad!


December 1987 changed my life. As a sophomore in college I was challenged by the “commitment card” at Urbana to read a missions book, support a missionary, pray for unreached peoples, or go on a mission. I chose the prayer and read a book. Ten years later I was on a plane for Kazakhstan. I got my mission heart at Urbana and God nurtured that seed into calling me into full time mission work. God bless Urbana.

Lorrey, Urbana 81

I attended Urbana 81 and Urbana 84 where I met my husband. God has taken us to China, and to Turkey. We hope to celebrate our 25th anniversary by attending Urbana 12 as a family. We want our kids, (23,21,18) to experience the presence of God and hear his heart for the world in a way that only Urbana can provide. Urbana didn't just change our lives, it was the birthplace of our family. He spoke to us through every avenue: seminars, plenary sessions, the worship, the books in our packet; the night Billy Graham spoke was our first date.


I went to Urbana 96 with my group of brothers and sisters from my church.

Because I live in Calgary in Canada, we had made a long trip to get there but all I remember is that it’s totally worth it.

I mean, I was thrilled to meet and share my dreams and visions with other young christians.I truly felt that God is with and in us through whole conventions.

David , Urbana 06

Driving home from Urbana 06, my friend asked "If money were no object, what would you do with your life right now?". I realized that if I wasn't worried about raising support, I would work full time for Christ's Hope, a ministry dedicated to breaking the cycle of AIDS in Africa. My wife and I had lead a trip to Kenya with this organization and the time spent serving there we had a tangible sense that we had hit dead center of God's will. Last month we celebrated our one year anniversary working full time with Christ's Hope.

Gabrielle, Urbana 09

Going to Urbana 09, I was scared because I was so young. I had recently felt a calling to missions and was still unsure of what was next. While at Urbana, I got to hear other people's stories/experiences and talk to agencies. Going in, I felt hindered by being only 17, but leaving I felt that my age was something that gave me strength. I came home and began planning to do a missions trip over the summer (Chile here I come!) and I began to do missions work in my community to get me prepared for God's next task.


When I attended Urbana in ‘03, I was struggling with an eating disorder and did not want to give them up to God. Finally, God got my attention and I tried to give it over to Him but found that I couldn’t. Finally, I prayed, “God, I want to give this to you, but I can’t, so if you want it, take it!” He did—completely! For the first time in years, I am free from the depression and sin that has bound me. I am free to serve God and am planning on becoming a missionary after college graduation.


I enjoyed the Urbana convention that I attended in 1993. I made a commitment at that time to be involved in full time ministry, or working towards it by 1998. In the fall of 1998 my wife and I were accepted by ACTION International as career missionaries. We arrived in the Philippines in February 2000 and are now in the middle of language studies. We will open a discipleship home for former street boys sometime in 2001. We praise God for His guidance through Urbana and other missions conferences we attended over the years prior to pursuing ministry full time.


Through God’s persistant grace and his working in my heart at urbana, I was struck with an urgency to follow his call. Because of Urbana 2003 I am currently teaching english in China. I heard about the opportunity from one of the ministries at the convention and ended up heading out to China at the end of that month in January. I thank God for Urbana which helped me see his plan for my life.

Rochelle, from South Africa

At Urbana 1996, I witnessed to God’s love in our hearts as people were reconciled. This country still has so many bridges to cross, but God has brought us thus far through His grace. Without Him in my life I would not be able to love people from other cultures. I think that the main thing people struggle with is loving the person and not love the negative things they do! Looking at Jesus’s life, you would see this to be true. He (Jesus) loved the person and not their sinful lifestyles.


I had never heard the Lord’s prayer put to song before. I remember that night in 2003 as being charged with a challenge…an intense strength of fellowship amongst a sea of faces. Months later, I joined IV’S New York City Urban Project (NYCUP). That summer, I thought I knew all there was to know about New York; instead, I came to understand the real message beneath the ‘I <3 NY’ tees. Urbana will widen your eyes until it comes closer to seeing God’s heart, then it sends you into the world with the courage to do it!


As a 63 year old, I experienced Urbana for the first time in 06. Simply amazing! Though our church sent 30 kids, I just wanted to see it for myself, having known about it for 40 years. And so, I just bummed around with kids I didn’t know, but did know because we’re brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve taken a risk in later life - not doing the retirement thing - rather being sold out for missions. Urbana renewed my spirit. I loved the music and most of the food. I’m re-reading Ephesians with a fresh view. And I’m packing my bags!


I learned of Urbana while a graduate student in Pennsylvania. The challenge of Urbana 1970 was potent, and I took that challenge into a 26-year career in the U.S. Army, accepting each new assignment as an opportunity to share Christ and His grace. During those years, my wife and I funded scholarships for a number of students to attend Urbana, and our own son attended twice (1993 and 1996). Now that I teach at a university, I hope to introduce many others to the life-changing experience of the Urbana mission convention.

Rev. Newberry

I attended Urbana 1987 which directly led to the final decision to go to Pakistan. I remember talking to so many rep’s and the encouragement they were in regards to God’s faithfulness helped later when on the field. Now I teach Jr. High’s and want them to know about the excitement of Missions as well as the importance of Urbana. I firmly believe that the decision to go overseas requires understanding and education. I want my Jr. Highers to know that Urbana is out there waiting to help them when its time for them to be called into missions.

Linda Jane

5 years after college:Heard about Urbana in 1990, interested in missions.Attended Urbana in 1993,went on short term trip with OM.Volunteered at Urbana in 1996,signed up for a year in Uzbekistan.Planning to exhibit at Urbana in 2000 with the mission training agency I now work for.Urbana was a key turning point in each part of the journey God has taken me on.Thanks for all you do to bring us together and share a vision.


being only 17 and not know want i really wanted to do with my life, i was confused. God laid missions on my heart and i found an organization that works. working with Romanian orphans is my calling. so i hope to take a short trip this summer.


The Ephesians study at Urbana spoke to me personally in a powerful way, but when I returned home, I quickly began doubting - Ephesians seemed too good to be true! I was forced to consider why I was having trouble accepting God’s love and further process some family and gender issues. As I realize that God actually sees who I am and genuinely loves me, I’m starting to realize that the Gospel really is GOOD NEWS, as broad and deep as I had always hoped, something Jesus has wanted to reveal to me for a long time.




It was Alex Gee’s message “There is no worship without reconciliation” that helped me to realize my own sin in the past. To me, it was a surgery that removes the tumor of hypocracy by God himself. Yes, Urbana 2000 had changes my views of the society. Through Urbana, I learn how to love my enemy. One night after the conference, the word of the lord came to me “If you want to follow me, you have to reconcile with your enemies and become their friends” And Yes, I did it. Thank You!!! Urbana 2000Tim


Attending Urbana 2000 was total last minute, being almost the last person to reserve a seat on the greyhound! Urbana was not a coincidence! God engraved missions into my life during those few days spent. In fact, not long after.. during the summer of 2001, I was called to join a missions group to spend 2 weeks in the capital city of S__. My heart has been captured since & I hope God will have a place for me there after my studies.


I’ve been truly blessed by the opportunity to attend Urbana as a college freshman in 1993 as well as attend in 1996!! Attending Urbana has given me a different perspective on world missions. It was during the missions conference in ‘96, that God opened my heart to go on a short term missions trip, thus, going to Africa in 1998. Although I’m still not sure when God is calling me to go abroad again, I realize that my missions is currently here at home in Orange County.

I thank God so much for using the Urbana conference to touch many people and to have their hearts “break for the things that break the heart of God.” God bless you all! Although I’m not with you, through your webcam I am there in Spirit!

(submitted during the Urbana 2000 webcast)

Ann (not her real name)

I went to Urbana 96 because my mom told me I should go. She had heardfrom friends that Urbana was very powerful, so she thought I needed togo. At the time, I was 19 and only marginally interested in missions. Iwas on the road to becoming a music major, something I had never reallyprayed about, that’s just what *I* wanted to do. Let me add that I grewup in a Christian home and was lulled into thinking that I was ok justthe way I was. I was growing a little bit, but I hadn’t surrendered myentire life to God. I had no grasp of the lordship of Christ.

At Urbana, God turned my life upside down. The very first two or threesessions centered around the theme that before we can be adequatewitnesses for God, we need to clean the garbage out of our lives. Atfirst I thought that I didn’t have any garbage, but then they talkedabout pride and self-sufficiency and about surrendering *everything* toGod—even trivial matters. When I returned home, I began a personal andprayer journal that I’ve continued to this day. I can’t believe thegrowth that I can see through my writings. I repented of all the”little” things that I was keeping from God—pride, self-righteousness,self-sufficiency, and the like. I was broken before God, and He honoredmy brokenness.

I bought lots of books at Urbana and read them the following spring. Acouple that really challenged me were _Shadow of the Almighty_ and _7Dangerous Questions (I don’t remember the rest of the title)_ by PaulBorthwick. Through reading the former book, I realized just what aninfant Christian I was, contrary to all that I believed about myself. The latter book helped me realize how important cross-cultural ministryis to God and how the Bible leaves us no choice in the matter. Laterthat year, I also worked through _Experiencing God_, which continued tochallenge my complete reliance on Him for my life’s direction. Aftermuch prayer, I realized that God was not calling me to be a Music majorand he seemed to be leading me to study French. I have 3 semesters untilI graduate from Arizona State University with bachelor’s in French.

I took Perspectives a year ago, and I went to France a year ago withGEM’s Eurocorps program. God solidified my interest in missions, andI’ve been doing my best to mobilize people around me while I’m still inschool. I am just finishing up being on a task force for Perspectives; Iwas a grader and the prayer coordinator. After ASU, I don’t know whatI’m doing. I’m going to Urbana again this year to explore my options. Idon’t know if I’ll be a long term worker, a mobilizer, or what. God doesn’t like to reveal too much to me at a time because Ineedlessly start to worry about it. I do know that missions is anintegral part of my life, nay, *the* driving force of my life. WithoutUrbana 96, maybe I’d still be a music major heading towards lifetimefrustration. I believe with all my heart that, since I’ve submittedmyself to God, He has faithfully directed me to where I am today.

Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope it encourages you.

Que Dieu vous bénisse! (God bless you!)


Urbana 90 was more than a success, it has challenged me to be more committed to Jesus Christ than ever before. Let’s rejoice in the Lord together as we continue to declare that “Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Universe. Hope of the world … Through Urbana 90, I believe that God has opened doors for me in the area of literacy programs in my area and in other parts of the world.


As an InterVarsity student I attended Urbana 76. Thirty years later, I returned to Urbana 06 with my wife and college daughter, to see if God might be leading us overseas when we were empty-nesters. I fell in love with IV all over again and through a great deal of prayer, went on staff in campus ministry. Thanks God, Urbana and IV!


I went to Urbana ‘06 expecting to discover what exotic country I was to be a missionary in. But upon accidental attendace to a drama seminar, God very clearly called me to become a professional performer - a very shocking message. This spring (‘08) I graduated with my B.A. in theatre and have been preparing and taking professional auditions ever since. Through this process God has been severely teaching me what it means to live a life worthy of the call, and has been transforming my character from its former shady-ness to one prepared to be a light to theatre people!


God rocked my World and completely changed my plans for next year - sending me to teach in China for two years through ELIC in place of my LA tech program I had originally had my mind set on. The Lord knew my desires of obtaining a masters (and now I have the opportunity to earn one for free) and my fears of living alone (but he has given me the courage to have faith and take the next leap). There is so much more to this testimony but in 100 words or less, that is all I can say for now.


I went to Urbana 09 expecting to receive confirmation for a ministry intern position in Knoxville, Tennessee. Instead, God invited me to follow Him to New Zealand to pursue youth ministry. Nothing I saw at Urbana advertised New Zealand, but God broke my heart for a people I have never met and a country I have never visited. Thank you, Urbana, for providing an environment where the Holy Spirit can move freely and uninhibited! God desires to make all things new in New Zealand, and He has invited me to walk alongside Him!

Bob , Urbana 90

I attended Urbana 90. God then led me to Albania, helping two mission organizations disciple Albanians after that, over a space of seven years. Romans 15:20 has stirred me along the way and my Albanian intellectual wife, Eva. I am reading a book by J. Christy Wilson, Jr. tonight here in Philadelphia, PA, which was distributed at Urbana 90. Thanks, Urbana staff, for praying for so many of us. Bob Durham, missions mobilizer in Tenth Pres. Church Philadelphia, PA


God drew a group of friends and me to Urbana 2000. We were searching for what the Lord desired of us. The last night there was communion and a challenge that all were responsible for either going or being a sender. As I saw friends stand around me I knew the Lord was asking the same thing of me, but I just couldn’t. I would rather give of my finances. Over the years the friends who stood up did indeed go out and serve all over the world. As for me, I now work with Wycliffe - and what an adventure!

Greg, Urbana 73

I am here in Bogota Colombia looking at the Urbana 2003 on web cast reminiscing the Urbana 73 where my fiancée (now my wife of 29 years and 4 kids later) and I sat there in the assembly hall waiting on God to move us into the direction of serving Him wherever, allowing him to direct. God was Faithful! He directed us to Colombia where we have served for over 18 years.


I attended Urbana 2000 at the prompting of my missions teacher. God really confirmed a calling to cross cultural ministry during that time. Within 6 months I was living in Mexico learning the language and also a lot about life. After a year there, I returned home and my wife and I have been working with the local Hispanic immigrant community ever since. I can’t stress enough how much that year abroad opened my eyes to God’s missionary heart.

The Transforming Impact of Urbana 2012, Urbana 12

I heard of Urbana through the ABU group at University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus, group in which I had friends and sometimes attend when my own christian group did not have meetings. After 13 years, I attended Urbana for the first time at 40 years old. The spiritual experience was out of this world since I arrive from the airport, transferred in the train to the conference. The people I met in the train were impacted by the Holly Spirit. I learned a lot about missions and the information will help support in my way to prepare to be a missionaire in Spain. During the conference God told me why I arrived at Urbana 13 years after, although the first time I helped to promote it within the christian group I used to attend when younger. I will encourage the youth of my church for the next Urbana. I will not be the same after this experience.

Andrew E.

As one of the few Canadians at Urbana 2000, I found my experience awesome. Seeing all of those people worshiping the Lord. It was truely amazing!! I encourage all to attend Urbana 2003, it will truely help your spiritual life. There were so many awesome parts about urbana that I can’t list them all here. Enough is said when I mention that the speakers rocked. Especially Rev Fong, Brenda Saltzer-McNeil and others… Blessings on all who read and for those who may not believe and are reading this there still is time to accept Jesus.

U96 open mike testimony

“I’m the only student from my campus at this convention. God stirred my heart in a strange way. I started this week off with repentance and I prayed three times after that that God would break my spirit and mold me. And yesterday, I did something I thought I’d never do. I wept for the people that do not know Christ that I know.”


I just returned from Urbana 09. I went to serve, but received joy. I felt honored to contribute to an event that inspires young people to give to the least of these. Jesus rescues. He restores. He lifts us up out of our self-indulgence. Through my job, I met hundreds of fired-up young people. One was a university student from an Asian country. He noticed that Christianity offered a hope unfamiliar to his Buddhist thinking. Urbana 09 inspired me to keep serving and to find specific ways I can pursue the upside down kingdom of God where the meek inherit the earth.


God is doing marvellous things in my life. After growing up in a Christian environment, I came to college not knowing how to reach out to non-Christians. So I built a bubble around myself, frequenting Christian activities throughout the week and having virtually no contact with non-Christians. At Urbana, many things - such as the Liquid seminar - encouraged me that I need to be IN the world, that I have something to share with lost people. Now, God is giving me the strength to connect, whether it be with blatant “sinners” or so-called “good people.” Thanks, Lord.


God used Urbana to change my life…He taught me what true worship is, and showed me Himself. All praises be to the King of Kings


Urbana 96 was an amazing time for me.The most amazing part of it was hearing Elizabeth Elliot teach on the role of women in the mission field. She inspired and convicted me to stay true to my calling as a woman of God. I was called to serve with Christian Ministry In The National Parks the following summer. If I hadn’t been to the Urbana conference I would have never been challenged to go and serve the Lord. I also realized that serving the Lord can take place in my hometown, which is where I am serving Him now.

Pua, Urbana 09

I went to Urbana 09 expecting to receive confirmation for a ministry intern position in Knoxville, Tennessee. Instead, God invited me to follow Him to New Zealand to pursue youth ministry. Nothing I saw at Urbana advertised New Zealand, but God broke my heart for a people I have never met and a country I have never visited. Thank you, Urbana, for providing an environment where the Holy Spirit can move freely and uninhibited! God desires to make all things new in New Zealand, and He has invited me to walk alongside Him!