Friday, January 05, 2007

Urbana - Looking Back

This blog post includes quotes from students I was with at Urbana about the conference; one student's (my sister Chrissie!) personal account of Urbana, from her perspective; and a YouTube video of a handful of us on the last night of the conference, just after we had sung in New Year's to the glory of God.


"Urbana has been blessing and has opened my eyes even *wider* to the desire of our Father in heaven and all that He is doing in the world. Many opportunities have presented themselves to me and I prayerfully and excitingly await what and where the Lord has me to go next." - Anna

"This New Years at Urbana was definitely the best New Years I've ever had." - Chrissie Barham

"Urbana has been an amazing and tremendous blessing to me, and truly an eye-opener as well. Things will be different because of the needs I was made aware of while here and because of what God has been speaking to my heart." - Jessica

"I've learned so much in being at Urbana including the following: the tremendous need in areas such as the slums; AIDS and the cities; the amazing work people are doing such as translation, shipment of medical supplies, and living in the slums. I also received much spiritual encouragement from the seminars, sessions and one-on-one talks." - Chrissie

"Even though this was my New Years away from family, it was the best one I've ever had." - Deanna

"Urbana 06 has been a HUGE blessing for me." - Sarah


Here's my sister Chrissie's account of Urbana as written in a recent family letter:
"Urbana was amazing!!!! It was much better than I thought it would be, which says a lot since I had such high expectations of it going in. I roomed with four of my good friends. The first night we realized there were no blankets for the pull-out couch and there was no way all five of us could fit into one bed. So we called the front desk and asked for blankets – the lady on the other end said they didn't have any. 'There are 900 of you here – we have no blankets!' So we were resourceful and used the curtains instead. :) Unfortunately, we didn't get much sleep at night either. Since we lived quite a ways from the conference centre we had to get up pretty early to catch the shuttle to the conference each morning. We didn't get back to the hotel until pretty late either (again, due to the distance between the conference and our hotel), so got an average of 5 hours of sleep each night.

The Urbana plenary sessions were packed full of skits, speakers, short video clips, prayer and singing. The worship team was comprised of musicians and singers of all different backgrounds. We sang songs in many different languages including Swahili, Korean and French. It was just so amazing being able to sing songs to the Lord with over 20,000 believers from all over America and Canada, of all different denominations and backgrounds. The main speaker at these sessions was a man named Ajith Fernando, a man from Sri Lanka. He did an excellent job of leading us through the book of Ephesians. There were also a number of other speakers during the sessions including various students giving their testimonies, Rick Warren (author of Purpose Driven Life), Bono from U2 (though he didn't come in person), and other leaders in the church. Princess Kasune Zulu also spoke at one of the plenary sessions. She is a Zambian lady who was infected with the HIV virus before she was saved and now travels around the world speaking to political leaders and others about the seriousness of AIDS. Oscar Muriu, a pastor from Nairobi Chapel in Kenya spoke about the need for the church to work together. He said that the American church needs the African church just as much as the African church needs the American church. He was well received as were most of the other preachers.

Every morning we were divided into "small" Bible study groups. My group was made up of about 2,000 people. :) In these Bible studies we would go through the book of Ephesians, underlining observations, making connections, asking questions and answering questions using the text. We did personal study and then those who wanted to share what they found or who wanted to ask questions about the text would put up their hand and volunteers would go to them and give them a microphone at which point they would share with the whole group. I am now more challenged to really study the Scripture in more depth in my daily devotions by printing out whole books of the Bible and making notes and observations. We were also challenged to apply the scripture to everyday life. After this time we divided up into our small groups and prayed for various needs.

Each afternoon we had a number of focused seminars to choose from. Although I'd love to tell you about all of the ones I attended, I'll just mention the one that stuck out to me the most. It was one about the slum ministry in India. The man who spoke was an American who had lived in the slums for 7 years. He said there are several missionaries who do just as he did: live right in the slums and reach out to those around them. He said it's very difficult as it's easy to catch various diseases. But he had amazing ministry opportunities living right among the people and he said that he was given the strength to work there knowing that this world is not his home.

I also spent part of my afternoons napping, along with hundreds of other conference attendees. Unfortunately, there were no cots available so all of us just lay on the floor using backpacks and books as pillows. I'm sure we would've been more self conscious if we weren't all so exhausted from our lack of sleep at night.

I could talk on and on about this conference forever. It was just so wonderful – a taste of heaven – being together with so many believers, all worshipping the Lord together. Thank you to all who made it possible for me to attend." -- Chrissie Barham


Additional to the below, click the following link for *non-Blogger* Comments:

Plus, 2 *Blogger* Comments:

Blogger Jessica said...

all who read this: please pray that God would raise up among us a FAITHFUL people
who will love with abandon and live lives to the praise of His grace.

12:22 AM  
Blogger Tim Barnett said...

Does anyone think the price is a little steep. Considering you have to provide food and shelter for yourself on top of the cost it seems a little outrageous.

10:33 PM  

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