Eleven days in advance of the opening of Urbana 15, InterVarsity’s triennial student missions conference, leaders and staff gathered at InterVarsity’s National Service Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for a Commissioning Service. "I'm excited about the fruit of our labor that we'll be able to see in just over a week," said Urbana director Tom Lin.
Tom compared the Urbana team to the Israelites, getting ready to cross the Jordan River. “We’re not quite there yet, we’re at a Joshua 3 moment,” he said. In Joshua 3:5, the leader of the Israelites tells his people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Tom noted that the verse doesn’t talk about persevering, or what to pack, or what not to worry about. “Consecration is setting ourselves apart completely for the Lord,” he said. “We’re making space for God to do his work in us, making us holy.”
Time was spent in quiet prayer as those in the service prayed for cleansing and for consecration for service at Urbana. Each Urbana team was then prayed for: program, operations, and communications.
InterVarsity president Jim Lundgren noted the disturbing news stories that fill the news media from around the world every day, news that he spends more and more time praying about each day.
“It feels to me that this is one of the most dangerous times in my lifetime to be alive in this world,” he said, noting how tempting it seems to be isolationist, to pull back from engaging the trouble spots.
“What I love about Urbana is that God is a global God who loves the whole world,” he said. “He calls us to take risks, to be people who bring the Good News of Jesus Christ, and what it means to follow Jesus Christ. Urbana is all about saying to us, and to everyone, ‘God cares about the world and we care about what God cares about.’”
Instead of crossing the Jordan River, many will be crossing the Mississippi River into St. Louis beginning about ten days from today. “The Lord will be with us,” Tom said. “I believe God will show up in powerful and miraculous ways that we can't even imagine, calling thousands and thousands of students to give their whole lives for God's global mission. I believe that God will send out thousands and thousands of students from Urbana 15 to tell the gospel story on their campuses and throughout the world.”
May it be so.
Audio from the commissioning service is available through InterVarsity’s podcast or our audio resources page.