Faith Today ran a contest to send a student to Urbana 2015. Jeanie Qiu, a University of Alberta student, was chosen to attend North America’s largest student missions conference. She shared her learnings and thoughts during the conference, and now wraps things up for us. Thanks Jeanie!
by Jeanie Qiu
I can’t begin to describe the experience Urbana was for me.
Looking back, it’s amazing how much God taught me in those five days. To start, I have to be honest that during the few weeks before I left for Urbana, I didn’t fully feel prepared- in fact, I felt like something was holding me back from opening my heart to listen and experience Him.
So I prayed, knowing that God was greater than what was holding me back, and He answered.
On the first night at the hotel, God addressed the problem I was facing through a conversation with my roommates that came up unexpectedly. I know that was His way of telling me that it was time to let go and give up my control of that aspect of my life to Him. Through this, He prepared me for the next few days of sessions, worship, and seminars.
From the very first session to the last session, the worship team had a theme of multi-cultural worship, so they introduced us to songs in different languages and members of the team shared about their own stories through the lens of the cultures they had.
We learned songs in Arabic, Spanish, and different Indigenous languages, among others. We were encouraged to reflect on our own views of culture, our own definitions of “us” and those we included in our definition of “family.”
Personally, I really enjoyed this aspect of the conference because I believe it’s so essential to learn the stories of our brothers and sisters and to break down barriers that stop us from reaching out or forming communities that are centered on Christ.
Issues of injustice that my cross-cultural brothers and sisters are facing matter to me because they matter to God.
Although I learned so much from each of the speakers, I’d have to say that one of the things that stuck to me most was from David Platt. At one point, he said, “You can’t manufacture a heart for missions if you don’t have a heart for Christ.”
This struck a chord for me because from a very young age, I have always felt that my calling involved global missions somewhere in my future.
But it’s true, my calling and my heart aren’t supposed to be focused on missions, they’re supposed to be focused on Christ, and missions is the outpouring of that. I really had to, and still continue to, ask myself the question of whether I am completely, selflessly, and joyfully devoted to Christ.
This is the weight of the gospel- that understanding who Christ is and what He did for us doesn’t just change a part of our lives, it changes everything. Our whole lives become a mission for telling His story, and it is no longer about us.
Following Urbana, this is what I’ve been praying — that God continues to change my heart entirely so that my focus is on Him and Him alone, and that every lesson He taught me at the conference stays with me.
I know that He’s already given me the resources to continue pursuing Him, in part through the people who I went to Urbana with. I spent most of my time at the conference with my roommates and a group of individuals from my church. This was such a blessing as I was able to build deeper relationships with individuals who also have the desire to glorify God through their relationships and community.
As for my roommates, I know that God had deliberately put each one of us in that room because of how we were able to share and be open with one another. Each of my roommates also experienced God in different ways and I was so blessed and inspired by their stories and just by the gifts and traits God has given them.
It’s my hope that these relationships that were formed will continue to carry on into the rest our lives.
Throughout the whole process of this conference, God has shown me that He is with me every step of the way. He’s answered my prayers again and again: from giving me the means to go to Urbana through Faith Today, to continuing His work in me after Urbana.
I’m so grateful to Him for giving me this story to share. I hope it can be both a challenge and an encouragement to others to full-heartedly receive the calling Christ has to follow Him, and to also follow when He calls us to go and share His story.