Urbana was an incredible experience. It was amazing to set aside part of my winter break to spend time with God and with thousands of people pursuing Him. I did not have any huge, glaringly obvious life changes, but a few, smaller changes to the way I think about things: mainly on what is happening in the global church and what it really means to surrender to God’s authority. These are things that God was working on in many ways throughout the week I was in St. Louis and things that have stuck with me since I have come back.
Over the week, God really softened my heart to the stories of the global church. Whether it was through the excellent multicultural worship we were allowed to share in or through the stories and demonstrations shown through the entire week, my eyes were opened. One of the most powerful subjects was the night on the persecuted church. I was convicted when they spoke of not turning away from the horrors happening in the world, because I ignore those stories too often. On a different occasion, I was struck by the need for everyone to have the Gospel in their own language, not just a language they can understand, so that they can take ownership and really relate to it. God also broke my heart for the lonely, isolated Christians around the world, who have no one to share in fellowship with. Since I have been back, I think about and pray for the global church much more, and I hope God will continue to open my eyes to ways that I can pray for and aid them.
Francis Chan spoke of what it means to surrender our lives to Christ. And I said, “Yes, God. I surrender my life and my life plan to you,” almost expecting Him to just hand over a contract with all the instructions. I did not get a specific calling at Urbana. God opened my eyes in many ways, but I did not get a giant arrow from Him telling me which way to go. And that disappointed me at first. I wanted the directions, the plan. But I realized that part of surrendering my life plan to God means surrendering my desire for a plan as well. And that’s more freeing. Urbana is about “finding your life,” and my life is so much more than my vocation. My life doesn’t start when I graduate and go into the “real world.” Reflecting on Mother Teresa’s quote:
“I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”
One of my friends said, “God isn’t helping me to write my story; God is allowing me to be a part of His story.” And I love that. The God who created the heavens and the earth is choosing me to be a part of His story. So I will joyfully serve Him, one day at a time.
Daughter of AFM Cross-cultural Worker