1. If you don’t want your spiritual life challenged, don’t go.
Entering college, I was already a Christian and I had a firm understanding of the gospel. But at Urbana 09, I was challenged with what I was supposed to do with the gospel. “He dwelled among us” was the theme, and the fact that Jesus left his comfortable throne in heaven to live in areas that were uncomfortable convicted my heart to do the same. I was challenged to live my life worthy of the gospel.
Returning to campus, I found myself desiring to see the gospel permeate every area of my life by leaving what was comfortable to me and going to places that were uncomfortable. As days and circumstances unfolded, I was led into the Greek system to do just that.
Entering a predominantly white sorority as an Asian American stretched me beyond what I imagined. My comfort zone belonged in the Asian American community, and attempting to lead Bible studies for my sisters challenged me. I saw how much God loved my Phi Mu sisters, and that pushed me to go deeper in my relationships with them just as Jesus did when he dwelled among the people of this world.
Now that I’m about to start my senior year, I have seen how God has pushed me deeper into building a missional life since Urbana 09. I have no doubt that Urbana 12 will challenge and grow me more and I have no doubt that Urbana 12 can do the same for you.
2. If you don’t want to worship with people of other ethnicities, don’t go.
I didn’t expect to sing and dance with thousands of people from different countries in a giant stadium. People of all different ethnicities and cultures came from all over the world with one common vision: to worship God.
The beauty of a multicultural and multiethnic community has never been greater than at this conference. God is so much bigger than I had perceived him to be—he is the God of this world. The diversity I witnessed was evidence that God’s heart went out to all groups of people, and it gave me a small taste of what heaven will be like.
3. If you don’t want your life to be transformed, don’t go.
Many lifelong missionaries (abroad and in our backyard) have been sent forth from Urbana conferences. Missionary martyrs like Jim Elliot and inspirational people like Billy Graham had been brought forth from this conference. The stories I heard at Urbana 09 from Patrick Fung (president of Overseas Missions Fellowship) and Sunder Krishnan who spoke about praying big and praying bold spoke convictions into my heart.
Before I knew it, God was transforming me to be a missionary. He was calling me to be a missionary wherever I went in life—on campus, as a future nurse, as a friend, and as a sorority sister. He transformed me by giving me his heart for the world I live in and opened my eyes to see the things God sees. From late night spiritual conversations during study groups with my nursing classmates to taking care of my sorority sisters during nights out at the bars, I found myself intentionally being present in people’s lives to show what God’s love is truly like. Before Urbana 09, I would never have imagined myself stepping so far out of what was familiar to me to love those who were not like me.
Attending Urbana 09 has done more for my spiritual life than I had expected and has challenged the way I live my life—more than I may have liked at times. Understanding what it means to mirror the life of Jesus was not an easy journey, but the journey grew my love for the Lord each day. God wants to stretch me and open my eyes to bigger and better things.
If this isn’t what you want, then don’t go.
Santine Hsueh is a student finishing her BSN degree at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She serves as a member of the leadership team for Illinois Greek InterVarsity on her campus and blogs at santinewashere.wordpress.com.