Urbana 15 on the persecuted church

By December 31, 2015
Photo Courtesy Urbana 15 Via Facebook

(Photo courtesy of Urbana 15 via Facebook)

International (MNN) — It’s midweek at Urbana, and the topics keep getting deeper and deeper.

Urbana, a student missions conference in St. Louis, Missouri, is held every three years by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

On the third night of the conference, speakers opened up about the Persecuted Church. Some speakers talked from experience. However, for security purposes, no information about these speakers will be released.

Emily Johnston, the Global Opportunities Coordinator at Cornerstone University, was able to fill in Mission Network News a little bit.

“One thing that was mentioned over and over again when we spoke about the persecuted church was that they are part of our family. And as members of our family, of the Christian family, we have a responsibility to them, to pray for them, to not turn away,” says Johnston.

And in this responsibility, Christians are not left empty handed.

“This is a big theme throughout the conference, that one of the greatest tools we have is prayer. And the other tool we have is solidarity,” says Johnston, paraphrasing speaker Evelyn Reisacher.

God commands Christians to bring everything before Him in prayer including prayer for brothers and sisters.

And it’s through prayer and solidarity that Christians are most helpful to their persecuted family. Prayers for support and endurance so that Christ might shine through the persecuted really do make an impact.

“One thing that really struck me was to hear the love and compassion that they [the persecuted] have for those who persecuted them…to say that the men and women that persecute Christians are as worthy of the grace of God as Christians,” reflects Johnston.

Photo Courtesy Urbana 15

(Photo courtesy of Urbana 15)

She was impacted by he way that “pastors and church leaders, as they’re being interrogated and tortured, respond with such grace, and such compassion and such love that people’s lives are being changed.”

Through this love and compassion, a lot of the people who’ve disliked Christians have come to know Christ.

For example, Reisacher spoke about the Muslim-Christian relationship. One of the things Johnston relayed from Reisacher is “one of the biggest reasons why [Muslims come to Christian faith] is that they met and knew and were befriended by a Christian that loves them.”

For Johnston, the fact that just being welcoming can change a life is a huge responsibility. As she said before, this responsibility comes with tools. So use prayer and solidarity to shine like Christ and spread the Gospel.

For those unable to make it to this year’s Urbana Conference, there are still ways to be involved. Urbana is offering streaming services for the evening seminars.

[Click Urbana Day One or Urbana Day Two to read more.]

To stream, click here.


  • Ed Alcantara says:

    A word of caution: Intervarsity has embraced leaders of Black lives Matter (BLM) during Urbana Conference. BLM is funded by George Soros who is pro-abortion. It is no wonder the speaker Michelle Higgins attacked the church’s pro-life stance. They are preaching social gospel. Galatians 1: 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!

    Many mainline churches are dying because of the social gospel. They seek to appeal to logic and emotion to divert manpower and resources away from the spreading of the gospel. BLM also espouses homosexuality.

  • Nicole says:

    Before that session, IV leaders also said that they are aware of BLM’s political leanings and do not agree with those. What they were encouraging was the solidarity with black people, not the political side of the organization.

  • Michelle Higgins called on the evangelical church to care about the pain experienced because of racism, particularly among black people but, really, for all people. She called on Christians to step out of their comfort zones and advocate for justice by ascribing dignity to all people not just in word, but through their actions. She called for Christians to repent of silence and inaction in the face of racism. In order to be witnesses of the Gospel in all cultures and among all races, Christians need a posture of humility and unity with all people. Her words underscored the vital importance of actively loving people racially different from us if we are going to be effective in sharing the Gospel message for the whole world. Loving people who are different than us is central to God’s mission.

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