USA (MNN) — It's billed at the largest missions conference in the world. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Urbana 12, which happens every three years, officially kicks off tomorrow in St. Louis, Missouri. Urbana actually began in 1946 in Toronto, Canada. Over the decades, the conference moved to the United States, making its home on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Now its home is in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Direct of Urbana 12, Tom Lin, is excited about the conference this year. "Well, we're hoping for 18,000 to be at this year's Urbana. We have over 16,000 registered thus far. We're just praying for as many people as possible to participate."
This year's focus isn't that much different than other Urbana conferences. "We still have the same vision and mission of calling students to give their whole lives to God's global mission. I think the unique aspect you'll see is the focus on the Gospel of Luke, particularly about God's invitation to the marginalized and the lost," Lin says. Then what does this mean for Christians who are invitation bearers?
Urbana 12 will also have another focus. "There's also a lot of emphasis on experiential activities because this generation learns quite a bit through interactive activity and experience."
Kenyan Pastor Calisto Odede will be the main speaker, while David Platt will be speaking about God's heart for the nations and calling young people to join in on God's mission.
Urbana won't be focusing on one issue, Lin says, "We're focused on God's great invitation to the world, to the lost, to the marginalized."
Lin says this will be a diverse group of young people. "We have students from over 100 countries at Urbana. And thus far, as I look at registrations, 44% are ethnic minority students."
Live streaming of selected events will be taking place for the first time at Urbana 12, which you can follow at Urbana.org.
Lin is asking you to pray that young people will understand their call and their quest to fulfill the Great Commission.