Urbana ’06 approaches; teams looking for the new ‘friars’.

By November 28, 2006

International (MNN)–The global Infrastructure is collapsing into slums under the strain of urban migration.

InterVarsity’s Scott Bessenecker is the director of Global Projects and Global Urban Treks. He notes that despair is a common factor in the slum communities. “When you’ve got a million people living in a ditch outside Nairobi, it just becomes this place of utter hopelessness. Drug abuse, use of alcohol, sleeping around–those kinds of things occur when people are just tired of hoping.”

Bessenecker is teaching a slum ministry track at Urbana ’06, one of the largest missions conferences, now just a month away.

This track has been designed for Urbana attendees interested in urban transformation in the Two-Thirds World. Urban church planting, economic development, waste management, child labor, prostitution, housing, and other critical areas will be addressed within this track.

When asked how he came to the title of a book that shares his heart (The New Friars), he says he chose the term ‘friar’ because historically, the friars were noted not only for their strong sense of mission but also for their mobility. They were willing to travel anywhere that God might call them.

So why the sense of urgency? “There’s a spirit amongst evangelical youth, very much akin to the friars, the preaching orders, that sent men and women out into desperate places to build hope from the inside out. I think there is a significant movement afoot, where young people are going to be moving into places of despair with the Gospel.”

However, due to a growing social awareness, this track is already full. Bessenecker says they are also working at streamlining like-minded ministries at this conference in order to provide an outlet for people who want to help.

“I predict,” he goes on to say, “that today’s emerging movement to the world’s poor, powered by the new friars, will also bring renewal to the global church of the twenty-first century.”

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