The triennial student mission conference Urbana 2012 drew a crowd of 16,000 Christian youth on the opening night at Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis last Thursday. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organizers, who are hosting the event, hope that students will come to a decision about serving God locally or globally, according to The Christian Post.
“Surrender your plans and allow God to surprise you. God’s invitations may be unexpected,” said Tom Lin, Urbana conference director and InterVarsity’s vice president. “You and I are called to share God’s Kingdom news not just for our campuses, not just for our cities, but also for the ends of the earth – the unfamiliar places, the unfamiliar cultures, and for unfamiliar friends.
“I encourage you to hear God’s voice this week. I encourage you to give yourself to areas of God’s mission that are unfamiliar to you,” Lin added.
In recent years, the percentage of Asian-American students participating in Urbana has increased steadily. More and more Chinese-American churches are supporting their English ministry leaders and co-workers to participate and to receive training. Thus, the conference's influence are increasing in the North America Chinese Churches.
There were more than 250 exhibitors during the 5-day event. The keynote speakers included Geri Rodman, President of Inter-Varsity Canada, Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, David Platt, author and pastor of Brook Hills Church, and many others.
The first Urbana conference was held in Toronto, Canada, in 1946. Students from across Canada and United States gathered at the University of Toronto to investigate God’s call to world evangelization. That gathering drew 575 students from 151 schools.
In 1948, the conference was relocated to the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Total registration increased to 1,331, with 254 schools represented. Since 1946, more than 250,000 participants were challenged with their responsibility and privilege in global missions.