Since I graduated from college 11 ½ years ago, I’ve lived in 17 homes for at least a month (and others for a couple of weeks). That’s a lot of moving. I got married before my senior year of college to Chrissy, a woman who was up for doing whatever God wanted. So God did a lot of stuff with us.
First, we lived in abject poverty in Nicaragua for a year—no power, only rain water, an old tractor as the only transportation for the village. Then we taught English for a couple years in the most-polluted city in the world—Lanzhou, China. We got MBAs in international economic development and moved to South Africa to manage a pilot microfinance project and teach at a local seminary. Two years ago we moved back to the U.S. Our first order of business was to volunteer at Urbana 09.
“Can You Believe This Exists?”
Urbana is the biggest event in the world to consider God’s calling for your life—over 18,000 participants, 250 missions organizations, hundreds of seminars, and phenomenal Bible teaching for five days in a dome normally used by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.
At one point in the week, I looked at Chrissy and said, “Can you believe this exists? What might have happened had we come to Urbana before going overseas?”
God knew what he was doing with us, of course. But we probably would have found an organization that matched us very well, we might have stayed with a ministry longer, and we certainly would have been better prepared to give our lives for God’s global mission. We would have made fewer mistakes. We would have had a stronger network of people to talk and pray with about lives of service.
Jesus has been calling people at Urbana since 1946, over 250,000 people. They’ve gone on to translate the Bible into languages that have never had it, plant churches, live in slums, lead corporations, create art, protect the environment, and even serve in Congress.
Eat More Ramen.
Urbana will be happening one year from today, over December 27-31, 2012.
If you’re a student, come. And tell your friends to come.
Start saving now—eat ramen three times a week, work some extra shifts, ask for money for it for your birthday. Registration opens March 1. There is some scholarship money available. But even if you don’t get that, please get yourself to St. Louis a year from now. There is nothing else like it and it only comes around every three years. Think of the value of focusing on God for five days, laying your life before him with a world (and lifetime) of opportunity in front of you. It’s totally worth it, even if you have to eat more ramen.
If you’re not a student, tell students and recent grads you know to come. And offer to cover some of their expenses. You can come yourself, too—maybe God’s doing something new in you and Urbana will be part of deepening your calling or receiving a new one.
I’ll be there. After all the moves, God has planted us in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ve gone from a volunteer at Urbana 09 to part of the leadership team for Urbana 12. Jesus is going to speak to us as we look at the Gospel of Luke. And he’s going to send us out.
See you in St. Louis and around the world!
Adam Jeske regularly contributes to Relevant and is co-authoring a book with Christine Jeske on bringing lessons from the global Church back to North America (IVP, November 2012). He blogs, tweets, and serves as the Associate Director of Communications for InterVarsity.