Saturday, January 02, 2010

Urbana '09: The Gospel, The Environment, The New Year, New Missionaries, DAYS 4 and 5



Truthfully I will confess that I got way to busy and consumed with the Urbana conference to keep blogging each day. But I want to be faithful in informing everyone of the amazing things that took place. To be a witness to what God did at Urbana. This post will share about day's 4 and 5, and I will write a final post in the very near future about the whole event and application of it. But I do need some more time to process it all....

DAY 4:
This was a unique day. The morning session was quite emotional as R. York Moore presented the gospel message. I sat there listening to the penetrating words. Even now it brings tears to my eyes. Moore, a powerful communicator to say the least, didn't mince words. The power is in Christ. Salvation is in Christ. Exclusivity is in Christ. Perhaps a sign and symbol of 21st century altar calls, Moore invited those who made a decision for Christ to raise a green glow stick in the air as a sign of their new faith. The guy next to me did so. In fact, when I remember the talk...the guy had is head bowed most of the session....writing...thinking...praying...digesting the Call. This man, an Indian student, became a Follower of Christ that morning. I grabbed and rubbed his shoulder and whispered to him, "My brother...." What a morning.

The afternoon was a busy one at the WHM booth. There were no seminars scheduled, as this was a day dedicated to allowing the delegate to do as they wish. This could mean praying alone...spending time with friends to process...meditating...or visiting different missions organizations! WHM decided to ship an additional 400 water bottles to Urbana for us to give away. We blew through those in a matter of hours. We had to save some for the final day, so we hid the last 30 or so for the final hour plus of booth time. The young lady I mentioned in my Day 2 post came back by our booth today to see me. She was visibly emotional and shaken. I tried to care for her and be gentle with her. She talked for me a bit. She had been to many booths and I could tell that the overall event was impacting her in tangible ways. I asked if she was ok. She had a hard time communicating to me at that moment....but before she left, she thanked me for praying for her the previous day. She said it meant a lot to her and that no other person had done that with her. She just wanted to thank me. I said, "Well lets pray again!!" We prayed again and she went on her way. Now, I am not saying I prayed with every person that came by the booth...not even close...but I did feel God telling me to pray with her, so I seized that opportunity (another Urbana theme) and did it and God blessed it. Its part of being incarnational...taking advantage of the moment God gives you, in that particular time and space. As she walked away I told her that God would use her for His Kingdom, to press on, to follow his lead. She waved good-bye. Who knows what will come of this. But at WHM we have a value to shepherd and pastor individuals, especially college students, in their calling. This is an example of what I tried to do this week.

The night session focused on environmental issues. I had a dinner with some WHM interns and did not hear the speaker. I walked in at the end of her talk and heard the resounding applause and figured out quickly it must have been a good sermon! Since I didn't hear it, I wont speak much on it, but I am thrilled and pleased that InterVarsity, a huge missions presence in the Evangelical world (i.e. 16,000 people at one conference!!), took the initiative to highlight this issue and that, as being Followers of Christ, the environment and the earth DO matter. Stewarding the earth is a biblical mandate. I am glad younger Christians all over the world are wrestling with environmental issues. When I was growing up the mantra was, "The earth is dying and going to hell anyway, so who cares about the environment!" I am glad God has delivered me from that self-absorbed, callous, nonchalant attitude towards the earth.

InterVarsity's modest counts said that about 400 people made decisions for Christ this day. Praise God for this! Thank you Lord! May your glory fill the earth!

DAY 5: The Final Day
The culminating event of Urbana: 16,000 people worshipping and praising God up until the turn of the new year at midnight. An innovative and thoughtful approach by InterVarsity to end the conference. My culminating feelings were that we have now been impacted and challenged by the idea of Christ's incarnation (i.e. He dwelled among us). Hwo would we respond? As 2010 is ushered in, how will this idea of incarnational ministry move you to change, to sustain, or to begin new efforts in this area. It will look different for each and every one of us...but God is calling us to act, the move out, to proclaim His message to the world.

The final day at the booth was memorable. Final estimations are that WHM added over 750 people to our facebook fan page, a far cry from the goal of 400 we had set out. Truth be told, it could have been much more if we had more water bottles, but nevertheless, God used this number for us to share what He is doing in WHM and to share the vision of ministry He has given us. We raffled away the remaining 25 or so bottles we had, a similar idea that other organizations were employing to end Urbana '09. I had more memorable interactions with those seeking out missions. As we would find out, over 2,500 people who attended Urbana made commitments to do long-term missionary service in their lives. That is truly amazing as God sends a new generation of missionaries to the field...with new callings and new ways of doing ministry. Long gone are the days of missions in which the soul is the lone focus of ministry. The body and soul (i.e. the spirit and flesh) are now on the minds of these students. As a presenter would prophetically declare, "Justice and missions cannot be separated." Amen.

We dismantled the WHM booth in record time. We then joined the rest of Urbana in the final hours of 2009 praising God. All of us WHM folk sat together for this last evening session. We heard testimonies of how God used little acts of faith to make giant-sized waves throughout His Kingdom. We just need to step out in faith and share Christ, and He will give the increase...that cannot be denied! We sang...we lifted our hands to God...we danced....we yelled...we cried...we laughed...and rang in 2010 praising God in Spanish song. What a beautiful display of Heaven come to earth, of the expression of all tribes, tongues, and nations before God. The Word became Flesh and Dwelled Among Us. He moved into our neighborhoods. He is redeeming ALL things. He is in the midst of us. Its time to ACT!

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