Wednesday, January 10, 2007

you have a calling

that was the theme of urbana 2006, inter-varsity's big student mission convention, held every three years. this year, for the first time in decades, the conference was not held at the university of illinois, but in downtown st. louis — a very different venue and feel for urbana compared to past years.

predictably, there were some wrinkles to iron out. food seemed to be a problem for many at the convention, with a high carb breakfast and long lines at lunch a common complaint. i found that amazing, given that st. louis is supposedly built for conventions three times the size of our 22,000+ delegation. seminar experiences were uneven. and as an old timer, i missed being on a university campus and that sense that we used to have of 'taking over' the place.

but while many things changed, some of the best things didn't. there were some excellent challenges from the platform -- for example, you can listen to sharon cohen's testimony about her work with the international justice mission or york moore's evangelism challenge. the worship was remarkable. you haven't lived until you've worshiped in the same auditorium with people from 144 nations, in many languages and musical styles, with music, dance, and song — a small taste of heaven. and the entire conference was built on the book of ephesians, which was both exposited (by the able ajith fernando) and studied inductively — a hallmark of inter-varsity's ministry over the last 75+ years.

when a conference has such a long and storied history, it's hard to live up to the hype. and with such a broad and growing audience, it's impossible to keep everyone happy. but this i know: there's something special about so many young people sacrificing a week of their christmas break, traveling long distances, and in many cases, spending a fair sum of their resources to come together to seek God and to pursue their place in what he's doing in the world. and God always seems to honour that.
i pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe. (ephesians 1:18-19)

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