USA (MNN) — As students become more and more motivated to see their faith in action and focus on what they can accomplish for the Gospel, good study of the Bible can occasionally take the back seat. Not so at Urbana 09, a triennial missions conference sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Urbana has focused its attention to an even greater degree this year on inductive Bible study and Scripture exposition.
By the end of the week, students will have studied, discussed and gained insight on the first four chapters of John. Students study portions of Scripture in small groups, and then have other portions explained with the help of Urbana's Bible expositor Ramez Atallah.
Yesterday, Atallah used the text of John 1 to challenge students to use Jesus' model of evangelism. In this particular story, Jesus calls Philip to follow Him. Philip in turn brings Nathanael to the ministry, despite Nathanael's skeptical attitude. Atallah says the picture we get from this is clear.
"We need to all seek the willing, whether they be seekers or skeptics," says Atallah. "We need to seek anybody who's willing to listen. There are many people like Nathanael around us who God may be preparing."
But is it too high a call to ask students to reach out to people who may not believe anything they hear about Scripture? Student Ryan Calin from Minnesota says he and his friends are prepared to spread the Gospel even to Nathanael-like skeptics.
"We're pretty outgoing people, pretty bold," says Calin. "You still have that feeling of nervousness, of ‘What should I say, what should I do?' But you just have to get past it. So, game on."
Passion and excitement to spread the truth of the Gospel is reflective of many of the students at Urbana this week. As students continue to learn more about the Word of God, they are also sitting in on seminars that teach specific evangelism tools and ways to live out their faith. This combination of Scriptural truth with the call to act will undoubtedly produce more effective Christian leaders in this generation. We'll see by the end of the week how the Lord has changed hearts and motivated souls for his purposes.
Mission Network News will be following students all week at Urbana. Continue to pray for those in attendance, and check our Web site daily for new updates. To watch video updates of Urbana 09, click here.