URBANA in a Nutshell

When I was a sophomore at Whitworth University (2009), I went to Urbana missions’ conference for the first time. I kept hearing about Urbana: “It will change your life!” I was skeptical, of course, but it definitely intrigued me. I was excited about the thousands of college students from around the world gathering in one place to learn more about missions. And so, I went…and, indeed, it did change my life.  (That’s where I first heard about InnerCHANGE. Immediately, I connected with the Guatemalan team, maintained a friendship over the past 8 years and now, have worked as a missionary with InnerCHANGE for over a year in Los Angeles).  When I got there, I realized that I really didn’t have a paradigm for HOW BIG it would be. It was amazing and also a bit overwhelming but in a good way.

There are SO many connections: so many mission organizations, break-out sessions and specialized tracks for people to focus on, as well as Bible studies, awesome speakers and amazing multi-cultural worship.

Things to know:

  • The focus is definitely on the college-age crowd, but anyone can come – so don’t feel dissuaded if you don’t fit in that group, especially if someone is excited about missions. It’s an AMAZING experience and I highly recommend it.
  • It’s HUGE. Thousands of people gather together; lots of energy and lots of information! It’s really exciting, so take advantage of it…but also take care of yourself.  You actually will be more engaged if you take some time to rest, process and pray, instead of feeling pressured to squeeze everything in (that was helpful for me, at least, as an introvert).
  • Be prayerful as you engage in Urbana, and be open to how God might move or work while you’re there. You never know what will open, or how God will speak to you:  through a speaker, worship, a conversation or a time of prayer.
  • Take notes, journal, have conversations, pray. It could be helpful to take something home to look over again later (notebooks with schedules and speakers are provided, but if you have your own that you prefer, bring it!).
  • Get ready…because, whether in a big or a small way, it WILL change your life if you let it!
  • Also, St. Louis is a fun city with lots of free things to do. There may not be a ton of free time, but you can take advantage of things that the city has to offer. It does get COLD in the winter, so bring winter clothes. My sister has lived in St. Louis for the last 5+ years. If it’s helpful to get a list of fun things to do or places to go, I’m happy to ask her! Urbana also does a good job of letting people know which restaurants to go to and helps direct the traffic so that no place is too flooded during lunch time.
  • Since Urbana is so big, it’s nice to go with a group of people you know. Groups can help people process, engage in conversation, explore, etc. and you can also split up and go to different sessions and share what you learned later!

To sum up Urbana in one sentence:  Thousands of people fired up for missions. Come to experience the joy, energy, and inspiration of Urbana. See how God is inviting YOU to participate in missions in your own backyard or across the world.


Working to the Summit

“Keeping a healthy balance and appropriate challenge level at work and living a life of love and serving.” That’s what Jeannette Baker credits the Global Leadership Summit with doing in her own life. Read on to see why receiving her annual dose of “God oomph” keeps her mind and heart open to what God has planned for her.


Jeannette is an accountant at Costco and she used to work at BelPres as the Senior Accountant. At 34 years old she is also the owner and dance instructor with Studio B Dance. Recently she sat down with Nancy Campi, the BelPres Staff Summit Leader, where she shared her reflections of the power of the Summit in her life.


Nancy Campi: Do you have a favorite Summit speaker?


Jeannette Baker: Every year I love the kick-off talk by Bill Hybels. He is an inspirational speaker who really shows you how to effectively move from “here to there” in any aspect of your life…family, relationships, work, and self-development…anything! His talks set the tone for a wonderful Summit filled with inspiration, reflection and “go do” information! I love to see how Bill “walks the talk” in his Church and family life and it inspires me to do the same here in Bellevue. Getting in this mindset opens me up to hear the “change opportunity” God is presenting to me from all the other speakers.


NC: How have you applied what you have learned at the Summit in your work?


JB: One of the ideas I have applied from the Summit is from Bill Hybels’ talk regarding balancing your “challenge levels” at work. I keep a conscious awareness now that I am not in the “under challenged and unfulfilled” level and also not at the “dangerously over challenged” area of the scale but instead keeping a healthy balance in the appropriately challenged level. I used to run a work life that was always in the strained side of things. At that point I thought that was always good … a long to do list MUST be a good to do list! Well, that wasn’t doing well for me or my job in body, mind and spirit. Now I recognize when my bucket reaches overfilled status and needs to be replenished. I can now acknowledge that I do my best work as a leader when (like a muscle) I am stressed enough for growth but not so overstressed that I break down.


NC: How have you applied what you have learned at the Summit in your personal life?


JB: In my personal life I have embraced the sentiments from Craig Groeschel when he says “If you are not dead, you are not done!” I approach each day looking for what makes it special … there is always a task to be tackled or an experience to be lived … I just have to open my eyes and my heart to find what that opportunity is! Live it! God has plans for me!

I also love several sentiments from Bob Goff’s talk. We are to “Love God, Love People, Do Stuff” and develop over time … like a polaroid picture! I love this thought pattern to approach my life and realize that if I live a life of love and serving, my life details will slowly come in to focus on a great picture of a great life!


NC: This will be your 7th Summit, why keep attending?


JB: I wouldn’t miss it! The Summit is an annual time of renewal and reflection for me. I walk away from the 2-day event with a revived spirit ready to go out to the world and serve God through my actions and attitude. I feel empowered with a renewed drive to strive to be a better Christian in all aspects of my life. I love the annual dose of “God oomph” I receive at the Summit and each year it is different and wonderful. No two Summits have worked on my heart the exact same way – so while I always leave the time refreshed – I never know what area God has in mind to be working on that year. What will my heart’s 2016 focus be? I can’t wait to see! In the words of Bill Hybels … “everyone wins when a leader gets better!”


Like Jeanette, many of us that are regular Summit attendees find it difficult to put into words the impact and impressions of the Summit. We leave each session thinking how we wish others could have heard a particular message and know others that would have found it of great value. Such was my case, and after a few years of listening to me quote Summit speakers and seeing its impact on my life my husband Dan, finally had the opportunity to join me at the Summit and now considers it a “no-brainer “ to attend each year. Dan shares Jeanette’s impressions of Bill Hybels, “[He is] very inspiring, real and captivating.” He also found Susan Cain’s talk about the power of introverts and Jim Collins’ Seven Questions: Beyond Good to Great especially fascinating. Both sessions provided Dan with valuable insights and lessons that he still refers to and applies every day in his work as VP of Business Development and Marketing at Kardin Systems, Inc. He looks forward to the Summit as a “relaxing way to explore new ways of thinking about leadership and relationships.”


Another BelPres member fairly new to the Summit is Chuck Pilcher. Chuck was drawn to the Summit by speakers like General Colin Powell, Bob Goff and Pastor Andy Stanley but adds that “some of the very best speakers have been world-class leaders I had never heard of before. Surprises like this remind me of the way I felt as a child as Christmas morning approached to see what’s going to be the next present?” Chuck is a self-proclaimed Summit evangelist and says “Whether you are leading a work group, a family, a group of friends, a sports team, a church or a major corporation, everyone can use the skills taught at the GLS. This is down to earth, practical material that can make everyone not just a better leader but a better person.”


One of the greatest things about hosting here at BelPres is that area leaders from over 35 churches and community organizations have the opportunity to join us to experience the Summit here. It is the pleasure of BelPres staff and volunteer Summit team to once again host this two-day event telecast live from Willow Creek’s Chicago campus August 11 and 12. For further information visit the church website or contact Nancy, ncampi@belpres.org.


Read on for more insights from other Global Leadership Summit attendees.

“I appreciate the insights of top leaders who also are guided by Christian values.”


“It helps me continue to grow in my confidence and leadership capability. I’m inspired by the presenters and by Bill Hybels.”


“I have cited quotes from Bill Hybels and others in facilitating meetings outside church with positive reactions.”


“Every year I learn new truths that I can apply immediately. I have been challenged and equipped to be a better leader in my church, workplace and family.”


“Great leadership training from great leaders. Superb speakers who are entertaining as well. It is just FUN!”


“It is my annual revival… it revives my spirit, my energy and my drive to become a better leader!”

Behind the Scenes: We Love our BelPres Volunteers!

(Nan’s note: Did you know that we have some of the most amazing volunteers at this church? We do! One of them, Cherie Lang, writes short bios of volunteers for the Messenger. I’ve included her most recent one here, but there are more! Look HERE to catch up on some of the extraordinary people at work throughout BelPres.)

I don’t really relish Hawaiian shirts. I think it takes courage to wear one, especially at church while greeting. You risk falling victim to whisperings from us female fashionista types. But that doesn’t bother Steve White. Greeting is just one of the ways he serves at BelPres. And when he does welcome us, that Hawaiian shirt goes on! He explains that when folks come through the door they’ll think, “Who is this nut in the Hawaiian shirt anyway, and maybe it will make them a little more joyful.”

Steve was raised in a large Presbyterian church where Sundays started at 6:30am. That’s when they arrived at church – not got out of bed. He folded bulletins, attended Sunday school, the main service, and Fellowship Hall. The family would head home around 2pm.

Fast forward 25 years. Steve landed a promising career in Seattle with Boeing. He couldn’t be happier to give up that Sunday routine! He’s a free man; except for the nudging in his heart that something’s missing and those weekly calls from mom asking if he’s found a church. Through someone at work, he’s directed to University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. 

From that first Sunday that he decided to attend, amazing things started to happen. He says he’ll never forget the lady he sat next too. She warmly welcomed him and encouraged him to check out the Singles’ group; that’s where he met his lovely wife, Sheri. They had a set of twins, against medical odds, and having kids brought about their transition from UPC to BelPres to accommodate a closer commute between home and church activities. Lucky us!

Steve has been a Sunday school teacher for 25 years. That’s a long time! He’s ministered to us as a Deacon, a Jubilee REACH participant, through feeding folks at Camp Unity, by assisting with the Video Crew, setting up for congregational meetings, and with the Communion cleanup group. He says the relationships from the cleanup group have become like extended family.

Steve has worked seven years on the Men’s Retreat Committee. From this group, a smaller

group of men have become his pals. To quote Steve, “I’m not an outgoing person, and have difficulty truly connecting with people as a close friend. God, in His faithfulness, has sent me the guys in my small group so I can stay connected to Him since I don’t meditate and reflect very well.” Here’s what Steve has to share about experiencing serving. He encourages us to listen to God’s nudge about where we can serve, as it keeps us close to Jesus and others. Volunteering nourishes relationships with our children as they serve alongside us. And last, but not least, consistent attendance at church as a child can bring us back to the Savior as an adult.

Thank you for all of your wisdom, service, and faithfulness, Steve White! You’ve shed new light on the hidden virtues of Tommy Bahama apparel. All this Hawaiian talk prompted me to look up the meaning of  “Mahalo,” which means, “May you be in Divine breath.” That’s powerful stuff, and we leave you with that blessing.

Urbana! Annie’s Story

by Annie Aeschbacher, BelPres member and grad student at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA.

My experience at Urbana 2009 helped to shape my college experience (especially relating to my time studying in Central America), as well as the decision to become a YAV and even my decision to come to Fuller. I honestly don’t know how my life might be different if it hadn’t been for Urbana, but I firmly believe that God used the conference to work in powerful ways in my life. Here are some more details:

In December 2009, I had the opportunity to attend the Urbana missions conference as a sophomore in college. I had heard from a number of people that it was “life-changing” and I, (hopefully yet naively), signed up, entirely unaware of how profoundly just one of those five days would affect the course of my life.
At Urbana I was able to worship with 16,000 brothers and sisters from around the world and hear about amazing ways that God was working.

Less than one week later, I saw this work on the ground through the ministry of the InnerCHANGE team in Xela, Guatemala… a ministry that I never would have known about had it not been for Urbana. I went to Guatemala right after Urbana with a Spanish immersion trip from my school, not as a direct result of the conference. BUT because of Urbana, we connected with the InnerCHANGE team there which most likely would not have happened otherwise.

Almost six years later, I now consider InnerCHANGE to be a second Guatemalan “family.” Their work has ministered to me deeply, just as it does to the boys they share life with.
InnerCHANGE was one factor that brought me back to Guatemala, not one but two more times in the following years. During my most recent stay in Guatemala (2012-2013), encouragement from an InnerCHANGE team member was the catalyst for my process of thinking and praying about coming to study at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Now, as a 2nd year Fuller student, I’ll be returning to Urbana at the end of this year. Looking back on these experiences over the past 6 years, I’m much more aware of how life-changing this gathering can be and am excited and grateful for the opportunity to go again. I can’t wait to go back with open hands and an open heart, and see how the Holy Spirit will continue to work and move in my life, in the lives of my brothers and sisters, and in the world!

For more about Urbana ’18, click HERE.
For another powerful Urbana story, watch Sara’s Story.
To register, or for questions, contact Mary Kim.

Discover + Live Your Purpose Webinar

What if God is calling you, but you don’t know how to hear?  When Ted and I first heard the call to mission with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), we didn’t know what we were hearing.  I well remember that Sunday, when after an MAF missionary did the “minute for mission,” Ted looked at me and said, “If I were ever going to do missions, it’d be something like that.”  I looked at him and said, “Let’s do it!”  Then we both laughed and forgot about it.  It wasn’t until nearly 9 years later, and a lot of late-night what-do-we-want-to-be-when-we-grow-up conversations that we finally realized that our continued interest in MAF might be God calling us into service.

Now, maybe you’re sulargere you’ve never had a situation like ours.  But how do you know?  How do people go about discerning what God is calling them into? Or how do people know that God is using them where they are? Right now, we have a unique opportunity at BelPres to learn just what it means to be called by God.

Discover + Live Your Purpose, a 4 week webinar on calling, is coming up October 7, 14, 21, & 28.  Taught by a bunch of cool people (see FAQ, below) who have experienced God’s call on their lives, this is a great chance to discover how God wants to use you, personally, and where.  Maybe it’s right where you are.  Maybe it’s something new in your neighborhood or city.  Or maybe God is calling you to far-off lands.  If you’ve ever wondered, this webinar is for you.

Be aware, though, that the company we’re using to present the webinar allows only 100 participants.  For a church as large as ours, that’s not a lot of spots.  One way to attend would be to register one person from your small group, the one with the largest monitor, then all gather to watch and participate together.  However you do it, I urge you to involve yourself in this webinar.  God is calling you.  Do you know how to listen?  Register Here.


Discover and Live Your Purpose Webinar FAQs

Where do I register for the webinar?

Click on the following link to register:


What is the cost to register?

Registration is free, but it is limited to 100 registrants.

Can I watch the webinar with other people?

Yes, the registration is limited to 100 people (computers) but multiple people can watch together from the same computer.  We prefer everyone registers who will watch the webinar so we have an accurate attendance even if they are sharing an attendee login (computer).

What if I can’t watch all 4?

It’s OK if you miss one, your access code will work for all sessions and we hope to rebroadcast the webinar in January 2016. We will follow up in a few months with options to view the webinar again.

Do I need to have technical skills to be able to receive and be part of the webinar?

No. But you should plan on logging on to the webinar about 10 minutes before it starts to get it up and running.  There will be a download from Citrix to run the webinar included. A side bar will feature a place to ask questions for the presenters and if you have technical issues.   Jesse, our host, will also give you instructions about how to interact.

Who is teaching the webinar?

Several of our staff members/pastors are presenting.

Week 1 (Oct 7)  will feature Scott Dudley speaking about “Created for a Purpose”

Week 2 (Oct 14) will feature Annie Duncan and Rich Leatherberry speaking about “Our Primary Purpose”

Week 3  (Oct 21) will feature Ryan Beattie and Scott Mann speaking about  “Your Individual Calling”

Week 4 (Oct 28) will feature Jess Rice speaking about “How to Live Your Call”

How long does each webinar last?

Each webinar lasts 1 hour (7pm to 8pm)

If I have other questions, who should I ask?

Contact Elizabeth Hayford in the Mission and Serve Department

Learning to summit

As a young professional, I often think I’m supposed to have it all figured out. But instead, I frequently feel like I’ve hit the “awkward teenage” phase of my career. I’m eagerly taking on a rapidly growing list of responsibilities and leadership roles, but I don’t necessarily have enough experience and confidence to guide some of the key decisions headed my way. Last year, the Global Leadership Summit was a reminder of all the ways the Lord was guiding my decisions in every single aspect of my life, and that being a leader isn’t just about how I manage projects or a team from 9-5. It is about how I live every moment of every day. (more…)