Urbana 18 - Invitation to Lifelong Witness

The 10,000 who gathered for Urbana 18, InterVarsity’s 25th Student Missions Conference, accepted the invitation to join the nearly 300,000 faithful witnesses mobilized through Urbana since 1946.

They have been sent out into God’s global mission across campuses, communities, and countries. They have translated Scripture, shared the gospel, walked alongside the forgotten, and embodied Christ’s love in countless other ways.

Urbana believes that missions is still critically relevant and necessary in the 21st century and every Christian has been invited to whole-life, whole-world discipleship.

Grounded in Scripture

At its core, Urbana 18 was an invitation to join the Church’s testimony among the nations by living in allegiance to Jesus, the true ruler of all.

This invitation found its foundation in the book of Revelation. In each morning inductive Bible study, the Urbana community sat under the Word’s authority and let it speak into our lives. Revelation’s message—understood as apocalyptic literature , and a letter written to seven churches—came to us as individuals and also as communities.
In Urbana’s general sessions, dynamic speakers exposited Revelation, encouraging students to appreciate the great hope found within its pages rather than fear this book of Scripture. “It’s a book about Christ, not the anti-Christ,” reminded expositor René Breuel.

Missions—For Everyone, Everywhere, Every Sphere

Urbana 18 invited people of every tribe, nation, and tongue to join God’s global mission.

Together we sought to honor and celebrate the God-given beauty on display within each culture and welcome one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Many think of “missions” as ministry done overseas, cross-culturally. By highlighting movements like Every Corner, Every Campus, Every Country , Urbana also demonstrated that Christians are called to be missionaries wherever they are. And that’s not all. Students were invited to imagine how all kinds of vocations can bring the good news into every corner of the world as they explored opportunities at Urbana like:

#Hack4Missions—Up-and-coming software developers, project managers, game designers, and other technologists took on the real-world projects and challenges of missions organizations
AirSpace —Leslie Iwai’s art installation inspired by Christ’s messages to the churches in Revelation
Lounges—Gathering spaces where students processed Urbana in community with others, who shared similar interests or cultural experiences and ethnicities
Dressember a fundraising campaign, inspired after Blythe Hill began wearing dresses for a month, to support anti-trafficking and remind students how they can effect positive change
 

Brittany Ederer“I’m an environmental conservationist by training and am working with missions organizations to help them practice sustainable agriculture and habitat restoration as a way to love God, love their neighbors, and live in right relationship with creation.”

—Brittany Ederer, Creation Care Specialist
Listen to Brittany’s seminar on Creation Care and the Kingdom of God

Joshua Swamidass"There is curiosity about Jesus everywhere, but are we ready to respond? I am a scientist in the Church and a Christian in science, working out my confession of the gospel here. I come with stories to tell.”

—Joshua Swamidass, Scientist
Listen to Joshua’s seminar on Faithful Witness in a Scientific World

Discernment & Connections

Urbana 18 invited studentsto leave the rush of daily life to sit at Jesus' feet and enter a sacred space for discernment and developing stronger connections within the body of Christ.

More than 460 participants visited our discernment coaches, eager to take courageous next steps in their faith. And through our prayer rooms, with over 9,000 interactions, many accepted Christ, experienced physical and spiritual healing, and took major strides in their callings.
Over 190 missions organizations and seminaries—with nearly 1,000 representatives—brought our exhibit hall to life. Above all, it was a place for seeking and discovery. In the space of four days, over 30,000 conversations were held as exhibitors encouraged and supported students in seeking their next steps in a life on mission.
Through the Urbana Bookstore—the largest physical bookstore focused on missions—and Urbana Books of the Day, we provided discernment resources and key tools that will continue to sharpen minds and cultivate a greater heart for Christ’s kingdom work long after the end of the conference.

Following Christ, the Faithful Witness

Urbana 18 was an invitation to everyone to gather together and follow Christ’s example as faithful witnesses through:

Worship

Revelation reminded us that the King of kings reigns over all—and he alone is worthy of our worship.

This transforms our vision of the present, empowering us to overcome trials and persecution. It reshapes our vision of the future, planting a hope within us that can never be extinguished.

Scripture also reminded us that our worship is an act of allegiance. Through worship, we commit ourselves to something or someone. We must strive to keep our eyes and praise focused on the one who sits on heaven’s throne.

Go here to catch a glimpse of Urbana Worship and find more resources.

Repentance

Revelation reminded us that the King of kings reigns over all—and he alone is worthy of our worship.

Together our eyes were opened to the costs of pride and gluttony, cruelty and violence, and the ways we have personally and communally fallen under Babylon’s influence. We were called not only to regret our roles in these pursuits, but to lament and repent, to actively turn away from these sins. We all took blocks stamped with “Come out of Babylon, my people (Revelation 18:4)” as a symbol of the call to repent, retract our contribution to the Babylon way of life, and seek Jesus above all else.

Lifelong Commitments

John’s description of the faithful witnesses in Revelation 7 exhorted us to remember that Christianity is not a guarantee of a perfect life.



These witnesses were faithful and committed, even to the point of death. But in this glimpse of the future, they are comforted and ushered into eternity through the redeeming blood of Jesus. Here perfect harmony and a diverse, beautiful multitude replace our divided world.

Together at Urbana, we were invited to say yes to God moment by moment, day by day, for a lifetime, following in the footsteps of the faithful witnesses who have gone before us.

Our Hopeful Witness

Revelation firmly pointed us to the hope of Jesus’ triumph over all evil.

Nothing that happens in this life can change his guaranteed victory . One day, all wrongs will be made right. Sins and scars, pain and death will be no more.

Because of this hope, we live as hopeful witnesses. We lead lives on mission . We courageously testify of the good news of our risen King who redeems and frees us. We pursue the flourishing of the places and communities where we have been planted. We engage in difficult conversations with compassion and confidence . We seek to share God’s kingdom justice and mercy to the oppressed and forgotten.