The Student Mobilizer
The Vision of a Generation
All of us want to know God's will for our lives. And so often, in our best and worst moments, the question that we ask is, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" I have learned from my own experience, though, that this is not where the questions should begin.
In His gracious patience the Lord has taught me to first ask the question; "Lord, what are you doing?" God is on a mission –far greater than I ever dare to imagine! I am not certain of many things, but one thing I do know is that I want to be a part of what our God is doing.
A few years ago I stepped into a seven-month sabbatical from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. With space to study and reflect, I soon discovered that by joining in God's mission, I become part of an even more dynamically powerful work of the Almighty God than I could ever fathom. But the scandalous thing is that God doesn't want to just pull me or you or our friends into His mission. He wants to gather all people from all places up close to Him so that we can hear His heartbeat for His glory and worship.
Psalm 103 was the passage that I devoted myself to study virtually every day during my sabbatical. To read through it and bless the name of the Lord was so refreshing! To dwell on all that He has given, all that He has healed and all that He has forgiven in my life filled me with deep gratitude. In the turmoil of personal responsibility and desire to serve, I was relieved to realize that "[our Lord] knows our frame; He remembers that we are but dust." I had never gained as much clarity about trust, prayer, and reliance than I did in those longer mornings of reflection. How good it was to be reminded each day that, even when I stumble, feel weak and fail before Him and all those around me, the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.
When I encountered verses 19-22, I knew that I had uncovered the scandal of the ages. King David (whom I have always admired and respected) was calling out to all creation from his one little throne in his one little kingdom. He was calling out for all people in all places to recognize his God as the One whose kingdom rules over all. For David, there was no second-best way. He offered no set of apologetics or long discourses on proper methods of crossing over from unbelief to faith. As a matter of fact, he was actually commanding the angels, people, and all of creation to bless the Lord! As I continued to engage with this scripture I had to come to terms with my own sense of God's absolute rule. I knew in my head that God was worthy of worship, that He was good and blessed and almighty--but putting myself in David's sandals--isn't it a brazen thing to call the world to follow my God?
Then the sabbatical was over and it was time to bring all that I had learned with me back into full days and team relationships. Upon returning, I was asked to consider taking on the role of director for the next Urbana Student Mission Convention. I had been involved with past Urbanas in many different roles, but to be director? Me? Didn't I just spend seven months learning that I am "but dust"? How could a big, bald-headed, piece of dust like me ever be considered to direct a convention of 19,000 delegates seeking ways to reach the people of the world with the Truth of Jesus Christ? Ah yes, but didn't I also just spend seven months discovering that God's desire, through David's call was to draw all people into worship of the only True God? How will people ever worship the True God if they never hear of Him? Will the people sent out from Urbana 2000 help draw all people into worship?
It was not long before I heard God's voice clearly speaking to me as I considered taking on the role: "Will you do this?" And I said, "Yes."
But where was worship on the grid of this generation of students--the crucial participants at Urbana 2000? Would the word worship resound with them in any way? In finding God's will for my life, would God now provide?
God has provided in so many ways! One of those ways has been through Moyra Daniels who became my assistant soon after I took on the role of Director for Urbana. Moyra's desire to serve within the Kingdom emerged from experiences of encountering the Living God in corporate worship times. She had a deep love for God and a true sense of being called to live her life in line with His purposes. She wanted to help bring others into relationship with Him. Moyra had been drawn into the heart of God--and wanted others to know Him in a similar way.
When Moyra heard the vision God had given to me regarding worship and missions going hand-in-hand and my call to direct Urbana, the conversation gained momentum. She shared how her peers in school were gathering in large groups to meet and worship the Lord together. Their lives were being transformed as they encountered the Truth of all that God is, all that He wants us to be and all that He wants to do in this world. Worship was on the student grid in a more powerful way than I could have ever anticipated. Moyra's life was just one of those revolutionized and mobilized through being touched by the presence of the living God in worship.The vision of uniting worship and mission was already breathing in the lives of students. Urbana was not going to be about just one person's vision but about the lives of a generation.
God has continued to provide people with a vision for worship and mission to be on the Urbana Team and we are grateful to be just a part of what God is doing in the lives of students.
It is apparent that God is doing something unique in this generation, for we have seen a swell of student interest in worship. The Passion Conference in January 1999 drew 11,000 worshiping students. The campus ministries that we have studied in preparation for Urbana 2000 are also seeing this trend.
This worship is not with hollow words and empty promises sung in an auditorium, but embodied in surrendered lives ready to place God at the center and serve Him in love and obedience. This is what Jesus was talking about in John 4:23 when he said, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."
So, God is creating worship around the world to reflect His glory. Urbana 2000 is a part of what God is doing in this student generation. Urbana's theme, Because God First Loved Us, indicates God's initiative. Urbana is about worship taking us to mission and mission taking us to worship.
Barney Ford serves as Executive Vice President of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and Director of the Urbana 2000 student mission convention. He has served students through InterVarsity for over thirty years throughout the USA.
This article was co-authored by Moyra Daniels, a 1995 graduate of Gordon College who has served with IVCF for two years.
Urbana 2000: Because God First Loved Us
WE WORSHIP. At Urbana join more than 19,000 college students, young professionals, missionaries, church and campus leaders from over 100 countries on December 27-31, 2000 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana 2000 is InterVarsity's 19th Student Mission Convention.
Urbana 2000 is about students, worship, prayer and mission because this is what God is doing: Students, because Urbana is a conference exclu-sively for university students. Worship, because God will use worship to call us into His heart and send us into His mission. Prayer, because it is the place of listening to what the Spirit says to us. Mission, because our God is a missionary God.
Since 1946, Urbana conventions have challenged more than 194,000 people to participate in the Great Commission. Urbana is sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowships of the USA and Canada, members of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students.
Visit http://www.urbana.org for more information & to register on-line! Connecting you to God's global mission: information, discussion, community, next steps to mission and more!
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