Every three years, thousands of college students and leaders descend upon the city of St. Louis for the Urbana Missions Conference. In 2013 PTS sent a small group of seminarians to be a part of the high energy, cross-cultural missions extravaganza and represent the Seminary to perspective students.
My wife and I were incredibly blessed to attend Urbana. I grew up as a missionary kid and heard all about Urbana from my parents who both dedicated their lives to full-time missionary service as college students while at Urbana. This year I was struck by the incredibly diverse community of students. Everywhere you looked there were people of all colors and cultures and my ears were constantly prickling with the sounds of beautiful foreign languages. In many ways I felt like I was being given a snapshot of Heaven when people from every tribe and nation will one day worship together at the feet of the Lamb.
Paul Spangler, PTS senior and fellow Urbana attendee said, “I really appreciated the group worship at Urbana. We celebrated many cultures and sang in different languages, holding up cultures that sought to worship God in their native expressions. When they came to mine, it meant a lot to me to sing from my heart in ways I grew up with and ways I love. I believe I will take that with me wherever I go, to agree and come alongside others as they worship God from their hearts but to also have those times when it is so much of me before God in worship.”
Middler student Josh Fisher and his wife, Katelyn, were also part of our Urbana team. Josh shared with me about one of the most inspiring moments of the conference for him. He was talking with a young lady from Nigeria about the persecution that Christians are facing in her home country. With boldness she proclaimed that no matter what happened to them, the Nigerian Christians were not going anywhere. They would stay and continue to be a witness for the gospel. Moments like that remind us of how privileged we are here in America and of how much we have to learn from our Christian brothers and sisters overseas about what it means to love Jesus with all that we are.
Those were some of the highlights, but it wasn’t all fun and games. While at the conference we PTS students shared shifts at the PTS booth. Clad in our purple PTS shirts we passed out a ton of brochures and talked with as many students as we could who wandered by trying to help them discern God’s calling for their life and see whether or not God might be leading them to the great city of Pittsburgh to come to seminary. It was an amazing opportunity to pray with students and listen to them share their dreams and sense of God’s call upon their lives. We all left with excitement over the passionate generation of young adults that God is calling to transform the world. Hopefully a few of them will one day be our fellow students here on campus.
On behalf of all us students who had the opportunity to go, I would like to say a public “thank you” to PTS for their support in making it possible for us to be a part of Urbana 2013. I know that we all came away deeply challenged and will never forget our experience.
Simeon Harrar, Middler M.Div. Student