Honestly, I was pretty apprehensive about the whole thing. Driving that far north in December and January, navigating unfamiliar streets in downtown Saint Louis, piloting my way through a massive crowd of college students . . . just seemed like a lot to undertake at my advanced age and lack of adaptability. Okay, so I’m not that old nor, hopefully, that inflexible, but my fears were real.
Have you ever heard of Urbana? I believe it’s the largest mission conference of its kind in the world. Targeting the vast throng of interested college students (primarily from non-Christian schools since Christian colleges sponsor their own conferences), every three years InterVarsity plans and executes an over-the-top conference of (in their words) apostolic proportions. 16,000 students converged on America’s Convention Center and the attached Dome December 27 through the early morning hours of January 1–that is, 16,000 college students plus representatives from multitudinous mission agencies, seminaries, and Christian universities, and myself. Okay, I wasn’t the only older person there, but sometimes it seemed like it. And why was I there, you ask? I was “scouting it out” on behalf of Indian Bible College to determine the feasibility of offering our students college credit for attendance at this conference in the future.
Did I mention kidnapping my niece from Dallas to accompany me? What a blessing to have her with me during this time! She just completed her course work at Moody Bible Institute and is preparing for an internship this semester. Lord willing, she will be serving in missions among some of the world’s least reached people full-time in the near future. After spending a fabulous Christmas with her and her family I was able to bring her with me—a great privilege for me.
I was surprised and exhilarated by the multi-ethnic flavor of Urbana. Nearly half of the attendees were of Asian descent. We raised our corporate voices in song in English, Swahili, Korean, Spanish, French, and Hindi. The plenary speakers were from India, China, Africa, Brazil, the United States, Canada, and the Middle East, offering a varied perspective on the chosen passages from the Gospel of Luke.
I could have felt like an outcast in such an environment where I was a minority in more ways than one, but, I was accepted. One young man expressed his gratitude that someone of my age (told you I was getting old!) would attend, and sought out my advice. Another young woman “picked my brain” for over an hour. And when we sang together—all 16,000 of us—I could envision the worship and adoration of heaven. I was just part of the multitude.
There was plenty to do from 8:30 in the morning till 10 or so at night, including devotional time in the motel room with my niece. There were seminars on a variety of mission-related topics. There was a large book store set up, and booths from mission organizations, seminaries, and colleges. I purchased several books and became acquainted with some new ministries.
Thank God for His grace toward me! The car ran flawlessly. The weather cooperated all the way from a few miles outside of Flagstaff to Saint Louis, MO and back again. My niece helped me navigate the unfamiliar streets of downtown Saint Louis (though I’ve never been honked at so many times in my life before!). I survived the crowds, and I was blessed, challenged, and refreshed.
You had a part in making this trip possible. It was not an inexpensive venture but all my expenses were covered by the IBC General Fund and my personal account. Thank you!
Moving on, we are gearing up for another semester. Lord willing, I will be teaching the normal classes (Piano, Guitar, Voice) plus Personal Finance, and will be overseeing Applied Math and Finance (I know! My dad thought I’d never move past simple addition!), and Creative Ministry Methods. The latter course is another brand new one.
Please join me in praying:
- For wisdom in teaching and mentoring students.
- For God’s provision of an Academic Dean to take some pressure off our fearless leader, Jason.
- For continued spiritual growth in the student’s lives (and mine).
- For God’s provision, will, and wisdom as we move forward as a school in pursuing online courses, purchase of a new van, extension classes, and possible expansion of our campus.
I am so blessed to have you with me in this journey! Thank you! I pray you have been as blessed as I during this Christmas season.