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.

Origin has left the building!

God is on the move here in Bellevue. On January 11, the Seattle Times article, “Downtown Bellevue Gets Younger in a Hurry, With Much More Growth On the Way”*, cited that the average age in downtown Bellevue in 2000 was 57; in 2015, the average age is 34 years old. Chalk it up to all the new tech companies bringing in a younger population or the new karaoke bar that opened downtown. Whatever the reason, more young adults are flooding Bellevue and the Eastside. In keeping with that trend, Origin, the weekly gathering of young adults at BelPres, decided to think outside the box (quite literally). (more…)

Dominican Republic Impact Team – Recap

I am returning from The Dominican Republic with a full heart and spirit of deep thankfulness and gratitude.  Our team spent the week in relationship with 25 – 30 of the boys that are currently enrolled in the I Love Baseball program in Barahona.  We had the opportunity to teach baseball clinics to some of the younger boys in the outlying communities, to play baseball with the older boys, and spend lots of time just talking with the boys and getting to know their life story.  There are several boys that live with a family member because their parents are no longer around.  There are several more that participate in the program, then go to school, then go to work because they are the sole provider for their family at home.  All of them are becoming leaders in their communities and trying to make a change in their families for generations to come, thanks to the servant hearts of the people of I Love Baseball and Children of the Nations.

I have seen impoverished countries before, but none of them have ever struck me as much as these boys did.  After spending a week with them and truly getting to know them, it touched my heart in a way that I’ve never felt before.

DR_Juan Isael
Juan Isael

Because of that, I decided to sponsor one of the boys that is enrolled in the ILB program.  His name is Juan Isael Cueva Feliz   He is 15 and has been part of the program for a few years.  It became very evident to me that he will truly be given a much greater chance to graduate high school and grow closer to God through my small donation and the relationship that I could provide.  If you are interested in this, let me know and I could tell you about the boys!

One of the things we did was bring a bunch of paper, markers, and stickers to make signs for each of the boys on the day that they played their game.  We started to bring the signs out to cheer and the boys flocked to us, asking us if they could use the markers and stickers to decorate their signs.  I’ve never seen high school boys get so excited to decorate a sign with their name on it.  We ended up completely interrupting the game and spent an hour and a half decorating signs, taking pictures, and laughing a lot.  I apologized to the coach for the interruption and he quickly stopped me and thanked me for the light we were bringing to the boys through the simple gesture of just being with them.  He said it had been some time that he had seen the boys this excited.

 

Here in America, I am constantly trying to fill my day with activities and tasks and find it a great accomplishment to check things off of my list to show progress.  In the DR, they thrive on living in community with one another and you will often find them just sitting in front of their homes, chatting with neighbors and watching the kids play.  This was a huge reminder for me to slow down, pay attention to what God has in store for my life, listen, be in relationship with those around me, and eliminate distractions.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, your prayers and support were appreciated beyond expectation and I am grateful!

Nic Shackleton
nicholausjames@yahoo.com