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.