Conntecting the Dots

Urbana ’09 — Here We Come

It’s Saturday, Dec. 26th – a.k.a. Boxing Day to Canucks like myself. If I were home, I’d probably go shopping for ridiculously low bargains on next year’s Christmas cards and wrap. But shopping’s out this year ‘cause I’m doing something that’s far more fun.

What? More fun than fighting the crowds at the local mall on Boxing Day? I know, I know – that’s hard to imagine. This morning finds me sitting at Sea-Tac airport, sipping a Starbucks coffee and waiting for our now-delayed flight to Chicago. I’ve bid my suitcase goodbye with a prayer that it will make the now-tight connection to St. Louis, Missouri later today.

Delayed flight!

The media hype about yesterday’s foiled terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight caused us to expect heightened security this morning so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. The changed schedule means we’ll sit for at least an hour longer than we’d expected. Oh well. That gives me time to work on material for upcoming speaking engagements. Flexibility is the key, right? That’s what I tell our short-term missions volunteers!

Today Gene and I are enroute to Urbana ’09 – a triennial missions conference sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. More than 15,000 students have registered; nearly 3,000 of these are Canadians. The purpose for our trip is to represent International Messengers Canada at the IM booth and to be available for whatever divine appointments come our way. Many of these students are seeking God’s direction for their lives and considering missions as part of the picture. Perhaps one or two or a few will come our way. Time will tell.

I first attended Urbana 30 years ago. I remember boarding a chartered tour bus at midnight on December 25, 1979, and riding, along with 30 or 40 other university-aged men and women, for 2 days and nights to reach our destination. What a blast! We talked, sang, played games, and snacked across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and into the States before finally arriving at the University of Illinois nearly 40 hours later. A life-changing experience awaited us.

Plenary sessions featured speakers including Luis Palau, and if I remember correctly, Elisabeth Elliot. Afternoon workshops shed light on every thinkable aspect of missions, and the exhibit hall contained myriads of mission booths. My most memorable moment was celebrating Communion on New Year’s Eve. Sharing the bread and wine with more than 20,000 other young adults, and hearing those voices blended in worship songs to our Savior tasted like heaven to me.

Thirty years later, I get to experience it again! Better yet, this time I get to encourage other young adults who are now exploring God’s will for their lives as I did then. How fun is that? ‘Way more fun than shopping for bargains on Boxing Day.

Shucks – our flight was just delayed another half hour due to bad weather in Chicago. This could be a long day.

3 Responses to “Urbana ’09 — Here We Come”

  1. Stephanie

    Been tracking your flights. So sorry to see you’re stuck in Chicago. Wondering ifyou’ll flind a hotel soon and update… Love you!

  2. Jeff Goins

    Awesome. Wow – 3000 Canadians. Be sure to stop by the Adventures In Missions table and find out more about the World Race.


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