Posted January 13, 2016 by
Tags: My Wheaton
Wheaton College at #Urbana15
During the opening session of #urbana15, Tom Lin, the Vice President of InterVarsity USA, asked the audience of 16,000+ this simple question: “What story will you tell with your life?” As the theme of this year’s conference, this question deeply permeated the hearts of the audience, whether missionaries with decades of experience, college students thinking through their career paths, or recent graduates prayerfully considering job offers. We were all challenged to live our lives in light of God’s global mission, telling the story of Jesus in our diverse contexts.
My wife, Kelsey M.A. ’17, and I were very excited to attend our first Urbana Conference. We didn’t need to be convinced to “go” as missionaries—instead we were praying for God to bring clarity and direction to our desires. Our passion for cross-cultural missions began in college, when we each spent a summer sharing the gospel in East Asia and got involved in ministry to the international student population on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s campus. After graduating, we got married and began taking steps to "go" and gain a vision for cross-cultural church planting amongst unreached peoples. Our plans led us to Wheaton College Graduate School, where we are pursing degrees that we pray will equip us for more effective ministry overseas.
As we sat in the audience during the main sessions and seminars, God brought us clarity in a surprising way. Through several speakers, God reminded us that the first and most important commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In David Platt’s main session, we were convicted that a heart for missions is not the same as a heart for God. We were called to examine our hearts and see if we were manufacturing a passion for missions while missing a heart for Jesus above all else.
This conference was a milestone for Kelsey and I. Not because all our questions were answered. But instead, because God used Urbana to gently remind us of our primary purpose in life—to love and worship God, which leads us to tell the beautiful story of Jesus to all nations.
Tony is pursuing his master’s degree in TESOL & Intercultural Studies at Wheaton College Graduate School. His wife, Kelsey, is pursuing a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Learn more and apply on the Wheaton College Graduate School’s website.
Photo Captions: The Urbana15 stage is ready for an evening session of worship music and speakers; Tony and his wife Kelsey take an Abiera selfie at the St. Louis capital building; the Graduate School team of faculty, staff, and students at the Urbana15 exhibitor booth.