By Sharonda McPhee

Finding Satisfaction in Christ: Stories from Urbana

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I never thought I would say this, but—thanks to Urbana 12—I want to be a missionary.

In Love with Science

From as far back as I can remember, I loved science class. Biology, life science, earth science, astronomy—you name it and I was interested! But I didn’t just love science; I also excelled at it. My love for it satisfied me.

So when it came to picking a major in college, science was the easy choice. It pleased me, and I felt that it would make me look and feel renowned and distinguished. 

But upon taking college-level Biology I and II, I found myself in a hard spot. I passed the classes, but with great difficulty. The satisfaction in the major wasn’t there anymore.

Losing Interest

I had specifically chosen to study veterinary medicine, in large part because I honestly believed that God wanted me to be a veterinarian. After all, I reasoned, even though I was struggling in my classes, God was helping me pass them. He also provided an opportunity for me to shadow three veterinarians at a local vet clinic, which I enjoyed.

But as time went on, I began to see what veterinary medicine is really like and what it really entails. As a vet, you have to be able to deal with all kinds of animals effectively. If the animal is dangerous, you must find some way to get your job done without getting bitten or scratched. I began to see in a new way the risks involved in veterinary medicine.

Being a vet can also be a pretty dirty job. The thought of dealing with things like waste samples and surgeries was hard for me. As a result, my satisfaction in my major dropped like a dead weight. I couldn’t see myself as a vet anymore.

From Medicine to Missionary

I started wondering what other field of study God might be calling me to. Feeling a tug on my heart to register for Urbana 12, I followed through and attended the conference in December. I loved it so much.

The thing I enjoyed the most, though, was sensing God’s call to change my major from veterinary medicine to human services and, as a long-term goal, to become a missionary in South America. I had been praying persistently before Urbana about what God wanted me to do, and kept asking God for direction throughout the conference. Several other people also prayed with me during Urbana, specifically for guidance on where God wanted me and what he wanted me to do. I’m so grateful that he showed me.

To be honest, though, letting go of my previous major was a true struggle. I wanted the title “Dr. Sharonda.” I wanted the prestige. I wanted to look big and important. I wanted the satisfaction that I thought I got from that major. 

But now, after the spring 2013 semester, I can truly say that I have a burning passion to reach the unreached people in this world. I also love how my new major is a constant reminder of what God called me to at Urbana 12. I can actually see myself as a human service worker and as a future missionary. And I can see myself growing into both of those things through my classes and the experiences God has been putting me in.

Now I have true satisfaction, not because I’ll have a title or because people will look up to me or think of me as somebody great, but because I am doing God’s will and pleasing him. That alone satisfies me. 

What call from God did you sense at Urbana? A call to keep on in your current ministry or major? A call to go somewhere new, or reach out to someone you dont know? Leave us a comment and tell us your story.


This week at the blog, just over six months since close to 16,000 of us gathered in St. Louis, we’re telling stories from Urbana 12. How did God speak there? What has he done in these past six months? What have you learned? How are you different?

The stories we’re sharing offer a range of experiences—both hard struggles and deep joy. We hope they encourage you to reflect on your own Urbana experience, and to continue to tell others the story of God’s work in you.

Sharonda McPhee is a student at Indian River State College in Florida, where she is studying to be a social worker. She currently serves as the secretary of her InterVarsity chapter.

Read how God spoke to Darlington, Tyler, and a female student at Urbana.

Or read the stories of missionaries throughout history.

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