Urbana 2015: ‘What story will you tell?’
Thousands of young adults gather in St. Louis for triennial student missions conference.
“What story will you tell?” was the question driving the Urbana 15 Student Missions Conference, held Dec. 27-31, 2015, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo. Over 16,000 students from across North America gathered for InterVarsity’s world missions event, held every three years in St. Louis. The Salvation Army Western Territory sent 24 young adults to the conference, where they studied scripture, learned how God is working through global and domestic missionaries and networked with organizations that serve throughout the world.
Delegate Stephanie Guzman felt the power of the stories she heard.
“The stories told might sound heartbreaking…but the people telling the stories have victory because they know God will never leave them nor forsake them and they know victory is coming,” she said.
The conference offered over 180 seminars under five tracks: Hack4Missions, Business, International Students, Pastors and Church Leaders, and Poverty. Missions leaders from around the world led the seminars, teaching how to follow Jesus in specific contexts. Throughout the experience, instructors challenged delegates to apply what they learned and to discover their own ministry “story.”
Urbana session speakers included Francis Chan, church planter and founder of Radius International; David Platt, president, International Mission Board; and Michelle Higgins, director of worship and outreach, South City Church in St. Louis, active in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I was challenged by David Platt,” Delegate Sarah Wild said. “Do I have a ‘sacrificial selfless, satisfying devotion to Jesus?’ Often I have a manufactured heart for missions, but am missing a heart for Jesus.”
The Salvation Army hosted an exhibit hall booth where Urbana delegates could learn more about the Army’s local and international work. The Salvation Army plans to follow up with many of these delegates, connecting them with corps and Army ministries.
Wild enjoyed the multicultural worship at the conference.
“I was excited that Pacific Islanders and Native Alaskans were representing in Urbana’s worship,” she said. “Different nations shared a bit of their cultural dance–the best part: all praising the same God!
“I’ve been encouraged, educated and convicted at Urbana in many different ways. l enjoyed learning more about the Middle East, and I was able to worship God in Arabic, a new experience; it made me tear up,” she said. “This week at Urbana has been beyond words.”
On the final day of Urbana, Western Territory delegates and those from the Central, Southern and Eastern territories met at the St. Louis Temple Corps for a “Kindred Session,” which included a time of worship, prayer, fellowship and response. Salvationist missionary and OTHERS director, April Foster, challenged delegates to be bold in responding to their ministry passions. In total, nearly 100 Salvationists took part in Urbana 2015.
Urbana 15 was the 24th Student Missions Conference co-hosted by InterVarsity/USA, Inter-Varisty Christian Fellowship of Canada and Groupes Bibliques Universitaires Collégiaux du Canada. Find out more at urbana.org.