ST. LOUIS — An emotionally charged evening at Urbana 12 that included the appearance of Shortie Khumalo, an AIDS victim caregiver from Swaziland, concluded with students in attendance assembling 32,000 caregiver kits ready to be shipped to Africa in about two hours.
The 16,000 youth at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's triennial student missions conference were given a chance Saturday evening to write a short letter of encouragement to a caregiver before joining others on the Edwards Jones Dome floor. Once there, students filled a World Vision bag with items such as latex gloves, soap, and water purifying tablets.
"We wanted to provide the opportunity for the Urbana delegates to make a tangible effort that would shift their perspective to identifying with those in the margins of our world," said Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Urbana's program director. Toyama-Szeto called the event "historic." more >>
ST. LOUIS – How do you make sure 16,000 students attending a five-day missions conference have the best opportunity to engage in what God has planned for them? You "overlay" the event with social media, more specifically with Twitter, says Adam Jeske, who is leading a 14-member social media team during Urbana '12.
While perhaps breaking new ground with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's triennial Student Missions Conference held through New Year's Eve, Jeske and his "squad," as they like to be called, do more than tweet announcements or post photos on Facebook or Instagram. They engage in real-time dialogue about matters of faith. Additionally, groups of similar interest and focus can connect with each other by simply following specific Twitter feeds. The conference hashtag (#u12) is just the beginning.
"We want to be a conduit for participants to connect with one another, with the program content, and with exhibitors more than they've ever been able to before," said Jeske, who is InterVarsity's director of New Media. "Social media overlays all of the conference programming. For example, if I'm interested in church planting in India, they can tweet to that affect hashtag U12 conference (#u12), hashtag India (#India), and hashtag church planting (#churchplanting) and you can connect with people around areas of interest and areas of calling at a much more focused level than has ever been possible before." more >>
ST. LOUIS – Author and pastor David Platt gave an impassioned plea to thousands of mostly college-age students to commit their lives to Jesus Christ regardless of the cost to their lives while preaching during Urbana 2012, a triennial student missions conference. Platt warned that many Christians have reduced the eternal significance of Jesus.
"Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is the first and the last. He is the final amen … Christ our Creator, our deliverer, our everlasting father, He is God," said Platt from the stage inside the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis before an estimated 16,000. "Jesus is the very word of God made flesh … Jesus is all of these things and [yet] we have reduced Him to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for us to accept Him into our hearts."
Platt, who is the lead pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., made the point that people (believers and nonbelievers) need Jesus more than they realize. more >>
ST. LOUIS – An estimated 16,000 Christian youth attended opening night of Urbana 2012, a triennial student missions conference, at Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis Thursday. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship organizers, who are hosting the event, hope that students will come to a decision about serving God locally or globally.
"Surrender your plans and allow God to surprise you. God's invitation may be unexpected," Tom Lin, who is the Urbana conference director and InterVarsity's vice president, said from the stage. "You and I are called to share God's Kingdom news not just for our campuses, not just for our cities, but also for the ends of the earth – the unfamiliar places, the unfamiliar cultures, and for unfamiliar friends.
"I encourage you to hear God's voice this week. I encourage you to give yourself to areas of God's mission that are unfamiliar to you," Lin added. more >>
One of the largest rescue missions in the U.S. has already served 3,100 people living on the streets of Los Angeles Thanksgiving dinner last Saturday. Its staff plans to serve hundreds more today at its shelter where an average of 800 people sleep every night. The scene is being repeated all week at the more than 300 Union Rescue Missions for the hundreds and sometimes thousands of homeless throughout the country.
However, perhaps nowhere is the homeless population more evident than when the multitudes are seen in long lines during the week at various homeless shelters who stage their biggest Thanksgiving events on days other than Thursday.
The Union Rescue Mission says that homelessness is devastating communities across the nation, but nowhere as much as in Los Angeles. "The City of Angels is now called 'The Homeless Capital of America,'" says the Christian-based organization. more >>
NEW YORK – As various groups and parishes serve the thousands of poor and hungry on Thanksgiving Day, The Bowery Mission, one of the oldest and largest faith-based charities in New York, is reminding the public that people need more than food on their way to a full and wholesome recovery.
The Bowery Mission first opened its doors in 1879, and has grown to become one of New York's largest charities, providing food, shelter, showers, clothing, medical care, and residential recovery programs to the homeless and hurting, all free of charge. This Thanksgiving Day, the nonprofit organization will be staffed by over 700 volunteers, who will serve over 5,000 meals on Thursday alone. The Christian Post paid a visit on Monday to The Bowery's main building in Lower Manhattan, where staff and volunteers were busy preparing for what they describe as the biggest week of the year.
James Winans, Chief Development Officer at The Bowery, gave CP a tour of the main building, which is five storeys high and includes a roof with a garden growing all sorts of produce – one that luckily remained mostly undamaged from Hurricane Sandy in late October, one of the most devastating storms to hit the Tri-state region in recorded history. more >>