16,000 young people ring in the New Year with fresh hope

By January 1, 2013

USA (MNN) — Saying good-bye to 2012 means recounting the moments that impacted the year. But what does the future bring?

For 96 people who spent the last five days immersed in the missions movement at Urbana 12, it means a life-changing future. Those 96 young people made a first-time decision to give their hearts to Christ. 4,224 others committed at least two years to the mission field. 5,744 committed to short-term mission exploration, 3,071 to some time in between. Even better, 6,434 Urbana participants agreed to lead an evangelistic Bible study in their community.

It's a high note for the final hours of Urbana 12–the world's largest student missions conference, and it's good news for some of the 250 groups represented on the convention floor. It means new people in the pipeline with fresh eyes taking on the challenge of the Great Commission.

For others, it was a turning point. Bri Burklin from Fort Collins, Colorado says, "I'm going to be honest: coming to Urbana was really overwhelming at first. God just really softened my heart the past day and a half; I'm just willing to try and learn new things here, and figure out where I want to go."

A male student commented, "It's been really good. They encourage you to intentionally ask God what He wants you to do, and what invitation He has. I've been doing that."

Annie Zirbel from Watertown, South Dakota, was thrilled with the outcome of this year's conference. "This is my third Urbana, and I feel like God has finally given me direction on my life, so it's super exciting."

For some participants, the material they got was the push they needed to step out of a comfort zone to meet a growing spiritual need. "My name is Carrie Anne Mulley, and I'm from Pittsburgh, PA. We're hoping to start some type of organization, some type of club, to see what we can do to minister specifically to the transgender community. The topic is blind, and so many people are oblivious about it."

Lectures ranged on topics from social justice to social media, and how to be effective with new tools without compromising the Gospel. That message was especially timely for Jim Gross from Rochester, New York." David Platt specifically really convicted me to not soften the Bible for other people, but to make Him real [and tell them: ‘This is who Jesus is. This is who God is. This is what He's about. He is good.'"

How these futures come together in the name of Christ have yet to be seen…and that's what brings enthusiasm 2013.

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