USA (MNN) — The 2015 Urbana Students Missions Conference will offer thousands of young Christians a glimpse of organizations where they could impact the world for Christ.
More than 16,000 are expected at the America’s Center for Bible studies and seminars to help them find their role in the church, and one organization will be there, talking about the need for the Gospel in Africa.
For the unreached of Africa’s interior, Africa Inland Mission has been working for 120 years to establish churches where God’s Word can be taught.
This year’s Urbana conference coincides with AIM’s new Vision 2020 to reach out to 20 new unreached groups, improve AIM’s outreach to 20 more groups, and send out 40 new teams to the African enclaves, known as the Diaspora, in other areas of the world.
More than 300 million people in Africa are a part of more than 1,000 different groups who meet the definition of the “unreached” — people who have no church or even a Christian witness, according to AIM.
AIM is one of many mission organizations that will be represented at Urbana. But AIM is specifically looking for those who feel prepared to travel to some of Earth’s most inhospitable areas in order to share the Gospel.
Urbana is about choosing to follow Christ, and it’s where a lot of young people go to find that path for themselves.
“We’re looking for people with a heart for Jesus,” says AIM mission mobilizer coordinator for Southeast U.S., Sam Thomas. Thomas has more than 20 years of service with AIM in Africa, and another 15 working for the organization here in the U.S. Those who want to help do not need to be seminary-trained, although AIM is looking for people who have experience discipling others.
“One of the goals of Urbana for Africa Inland Mission is to connect face-to-face with those who may have a heart for Africa, or are interested in finding out more how we engage in mission in Africa,” explains Thomas.
At past conferences, AIM mobilizers spoke with up to 800 participants. Of those, 100 were intrigued enough to schedule a follow-up interview.
About 50 people leave the U.S. for Africa every year as part of AIM’s different projects. Thomas hopes to increase that number to 75 in the coming years in order to meet the Vision 2020 mandate.
“We trust we will find willing hearts and people willing to step out in faith,” Thomas says.
In past years, AIM has sent 50 people a year to Africa. To fulfill the goals set in Vision 2020, Thomas says they will need to increase that number to 75 a year.
“Africa Inland Mission originally started with the goal to move from coastal Kenya to the heart of the continent,” Thomas says. “We’ve reevaluated–redefined–‘inland.’ So we’ve got our new inland to reach the remaining unreached people groups in Africa by 2020.”