Monday, January 4, 2010

Urbana 09

     Well, so much for writing once a week. I actually have three posts that I started and never finished...if that counts for anything! So I just got home from Urbana, a world missions conference in St. Louis. It was a 17 hour bus ride, but it was worth it! AND I got to see the Mississippi River, which was one of my lifelong dreams! Isn't that awesome? As soon as we got to the hotel, I went to check out the river and the arch with some friends from LVC. The hotel I stayed at with my Millersville friends was right across the street from the arch. Our hotel room had a king size bed and a separate living room. It was like a suite! Alright now onto the good stuff.... the actual conference!

    So worshipping with like 17,000 people from around the world is just an indescribable thing. It's like experiencing what heaven will be like because you get a chance to see a greater picture of who God is when you are with people from all places, cultures, languages. I loved the speakers the best, though. I loved hearing about the places they have been. I was very touched by Ramez Atalluh speaking about the garbage village in Egypt where he and his wife ministered. When the pastor who first ministered there tried to talk to one of the people, they ran into a pig sty because they were afraid. They lived like animals. But that pastor just put his boots, lit a torch, and went into the pig sty after them. It was such a picture of how God came down here to us. We do hide in pig stys, afraid of the goodness that God offers. But he comes in after us to love on us. The other speakers that really impacted me the most were a man from Rwanda and a man from Korea. The man from Rwanda spoke about the two tribes there and how his father had been killed by the other tribe when he was 5 years old. He talked about reconciliation and forgiveness and how God told him that he had no right to hold onto his hatred. So now he ministers to this other tribe, I think they are called the Tutsi. Anyway they were the ones who caused the genocide in the country. I can't imagine forgiving someone who killed my father and terrorized my country. That's what made me realize that if that man can forgive a group of people who have hurt his family and negatively impacted his life so much, and not only forgive but love and minister to, I can forgive the people in my life that I don't want to forgive. The man from Korea spoke about the Japanese imperalism that took over Korea and their culture. He is now a missionary in Japan. Seeing Jesus up on the cross saying, "Forgive them for they know not what they do" is a powerful image that just shows you that forgiveness is not optional.
  The story about the garbage village was particularly inspiring to me because Ramez Atallah and his wife are taking part in something amazing in Egypt where God is moving in huge ways. The church that was built in that garbage village is the largest in the middle east apparently! I looked it up online when I got home, and one sentence from an article I read really struck me: "They still collect garbage; however, they now have three schools, a hospital and many churches" ( The people there still collect garbage, but they are now followers of Jesus, and this makes all the difference in their village.

     I went into the conference with an expectation that I'd figure out what I'm going to do after my internships are over this year, but I didn't really figure that out. I do have a few things in mind, but the cool thing is that I don't have to sign up for a program next year. I can stick around here and just get a job, and if I have to move back home, that would be okay. It's all okay. And I'm just excited about whatever adventure God has planned for me. The world is a big place, and I intend to explore every inch of it!

     If you are interested in hearing the speakers from Urbana 09, you can catch them all on the website:

1 comment:

JB said...

Glad to hear you had a great time at Urbana, Jess!