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!