Doing What I Was Made For
A personal, behind-the-scenes look at Urbana 2000.
--Moyra Jean Stiles
Big events (and coverage of them) can come across as large and impersonal--media hype. In an effort to get a more personal perspective on an admittedly huge event, we asked Moyra Stiles (personal assistant to Barney Ford, Director of Urbana) to share her journal from the days surrounding the conference.
One of the great joys of a walk of faith is when you see what is perhaps an altogether too private matter--the heart's allegiance and love for Christ clearly seen and talked of in unbashful terms. Moyra has that kind of allegiance. And it's evident here.
December 21, 2000
Yesterday was our last ULT [Urbana Leadership Team] meeting--everyone dragging in with TO DO lists out the door, a bit of panic around the eyes trying to take deep rather than rapid, shallow breaths. Lindsey did the lunch run and brought us all Big Mikes and Ruffles as we caught each other up on the things still left to be done--1,848 small group leaders, 52 to go, a PR and communications contingency plan, housing cards and labels for registration, accurate schedules for the 60 shuttle buses, talks to write, orientations to plan, seminar leaders to get travel itineraries from, honorariums to pay, on-site schedules to coordinate, keeping Melody and baby healthy. (Pete Hammond substituted in for her at the meeting, and I really felt the lack of her presence!) Our team has grown so tight--as we prayed--some of us kneeling, some sitting in our chairs--I began to feel the edges of grief come in--at the sense of loss I imagine will ensue as our team "disbands" and we are not all together working toward the same shared goal--I'll miss the community so much! Great team!
Travis just called--they just arrived after a seven-hour drive--a semi rolled and blocked traffic for two hours, argh! But he sounds excited to be there and ready to dive in. He was remembering the first meetings as an intern and then the one early this fall that divvied up the work load--not imagining how it would all get done--but doing it and doing well--they are there on-site ready to start setting up--here we go!
Just talked to Lindsey as well--she's got this hysterical problem with her car where it just won't stop honking--when she's driving and turns the wheel it just keeps honking and honking. What a riot! Joggers are diving into snow banks--people are flipping her off in intersections, tellers at the drive-up bank window are upset--it's just comical. So I offered one of our cars to her to borrow so she can run errands stress free--so incredibly thankful for her.
Prepare us--Your people--for the ways that You want to tear out our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh ready to serve, suffer, show compassion, obey, worship, rejoice in all that You are and all that You give. Thank You for the thousands of prayers You have answered already--already I have so much to testify of Your goodness and love--You ARE an awesome God and I'm so thankful to serve You. Thank You for the peace (probably mingled with some naivete) that is allowing me to take some time off tomorrow and rest--we're at a good place with the on-site plan.
Okay--I can't stop writing--feel on the threshold--like how a pregnant woman must feel close to her due date: "Okay--I'm ready--let's do this thing"--but not quite sure what it's all going to be like. Trusting You, God--You keep leading me into the most wide open spaces where all I can do is marvel, worship and feel like I'm right where I was created to be doing what I was made for!
December 26, 2000
Urbana is tomorrow December 27, 2000 is tomorrow three years of preparation and tomorrow is registration!
Staff is in the door really! Piles and piles of them are coming in from all over the country. Tonight was the dinner where we welcomed all of the staff with a fellowship dinner. We were able to cast the vision of Urbana and its message of "Worship to Mission and Mission to Worship" with a PowerPoint presentation and Barney sharing God's call on his life and the vision that God has implanted in his heart for this generation. It was so good to be in those two crowded banquet halls full of staff tonight--elbow to elbow, wall to wall--the starting line of our full IVCF community serving the incoming delegation. So amazing to be in a room full of hearts so FOR this generation. There was hardly space to move as Scott and I shimmied the projector through the crowd to do the presentation. I found myself kneeled down there on the floor between rows of banquet tables in a tight little cave slowly advancing the PowerPoint slides--I felt this thrill of expectation--this joy of the vision being spread--this anticipation of incoming thousands--and all the potential that the next five days were ready to unfurl.
There is a deep peace of Christ in Barney--I sense his true handing over of the convention to You, God. Strengthen and enable him to walk in that peace throughout these days. I am amazed at his friends that requested a copy of his minute-by-minute schedule because they want to follow it and pray for him throughout the whole convention--this is their one goal and commitment. Bless them, Lord!
December 30, 2000
The days are so full that there is actually very little time to really digest all the things that are going on, Father. I see the fruit of Your faithfulness here at Urbana. I see the depth of Your love for these students--Your precious people as You meet them, guide them, touch their lives and bring them toward wholeness. I am right in that tension of really, really wanting to dive in and get lost in Your love here, but it's hard to know so well what is going on--fearful about this or that piece coming through--yet through Your Spirit You ARE touching hearts. Things started early this morning with hearing that at least two Native Americans had come to know You through what's going on here. What rejoicing in my heart!
Then into our speaker prayer time--these times are each so special to me--I'm amazed at the privilege to sit in this room with everyone who will be on the platform throughout the convention. It's been a time of real connection, prayer, support and looking to You, Lord! Thank You for the team spirit that seems devoid of egos. Paul Borthwick described it as the difference between an All-Star team and a Championship team. The All-Star team has person after person getting up to slug one out of the park, getting glory each for themselves, while the Championship team scraps together to win, achieving the goal and everyone recognizing the joined effort.
December 31, 2000
This morning in speaker prayer time I prayed with George Verwer and Scott Hays. We prayed for Scott's fingers to continue working as he plays bass with the worship team. For the worship team to have strength as they enter their last full day of worship. I'll always remember George saying "No matter how filled we are by the Holy Spirit, we're always just clay pots."
I'm still recovering from how many delegates in the Assembly Hall popped up out of their seats in response to Paul Borthwick's call to missions last night. It made me stagger! Along with discovering that our offering for the convention is up over $1 million! Barney and I were utterly speechless as we saw the figure on Melody's spreadsheet that she had sitting on her lap beside the platform. We are actually going to be able to give money to every agency that sent in a proposal. God, thank You for being so generous with us that we can be generous right back to You! We are in awe. Thank You!
Moyra Jean Stiles has been on the Urbana Leadership Team since 1998. Previously, she worked as an English teacher in South Korea and with a publishing house in Boston. Recently married, she and her husband, Travis, are seeking God's leading for full-time mission service following their committment with Urbana.