Updated Wed, May 05, 2010 at 7:25 p.m. APRIL - MAY 2010 Edition

Ramesh Dad's Memoriam:

Please Support PS:

 Like us on Facebook

PS  Interest Survey



 Home |Expressions |Impressions |Hotpressions |News| Greek Life |Education |Entertainment |Multimedia |Sports | Food |CulturalLife |Features| Archives | Top 5


Custom Search
 “Ultimately Urbana Missions Message Intensely Impacts Lives Lovingly!

Kristen Agnew

Senior Staff Writer

Agnew's Analysis

First of all, one of my favorite bands is following me on Twitter now. At Urbana, our morning Bible study leaders encouraged us to answer specific application questions, and to tweet our responses, which would be posted in the main room before the morning sessions. I signed up for Twitter to be part of that interactive media bit. After I got home, I tweeted up an article by Jon Foreman, and the next morning I woke up to an email saying that Switchfoot was following me on Twitter!

If I could define my Urbana experience in one sentence, I would say that the Lord opened my eyes to the world's needs, more than I have seen before, and to His amazing and unchanging grace. I watched thousands of students commit their lives to Christ, to short-term missions, and to long-term missions. I listened to people share stories from around the world (Afghanistan, Japan, and Latin America, to name a few) about how our God is powerful, and full of mercy! I realized that my life is short, and that I have an opportunity to witness in my career in science and research, and that even I can join efforts to translate the Bible or walk beside victims of injustice. The opportunities are endless for those who want to follow God and share His heart and what better time to begin than right now.

The Lord used several people to encourage me to go to the Urbana Missions Conference, and I wanted to thank them specifically: Ramesh, for being persistent in asking me if I signed up yet this fall; Pastor Ed, for entertaining my ideas about signing up without a group the night before the early registration deadline; Calvin and the PCCO-OIF scholarship committee for their contribution for my hotel and meal expenses. My parents and my sister also contributed toward my food and transportation costs. I thank Andrea and InterVarsity leaders for helping me connect with the Pittsburgh bus group, and Brian Hu for reserving all our hotel rooms. And Josh, thank you for driving me to and from the bus site, and for listening to me ramble on the phone throughout the week about being lost in downtown St. Louis!

I arrived Sunday morning, December 27, after an overnight bus-ride and checked into the Crowne Plaza hotel, which was next to the Arch! (Great choice Brian, by the way :) I checked in, ate lunch with a fellow former missionary kid (whose parents are involved in missions to the Arab world), then attended the International Student track orientation.

The main evening session started that night, a routine which continued through Thursday. Each day of the week, morning Bible studies took us into the Gospel of John (chapters 1-4) in smaller groups, where we explored how God came to dwell among us- which was the theme for the week. The inductive Bible study style encouraged us to observe things about the passages that stood out to us, and I was surprised how God spoke to us through His word every morning.

John 1:14 reads, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us," and I continue to ask myself, just as Christ dwelled among us, how do I dwell with my neighbors and friends, knowing God's love? How do I live as a child of God in Pittsburgh and as a member of the global community?

It was difficult for me to choose which elective seminars to attend throughout weekday mornings and afternoons, which would help equip me for different kinds of relationships and for growing in my walk with God.

Did I want to learn more about worship, international poverty, domestic poverty, homosexuality, cross-cultural communication, or the Church in Africa or in Asia?

I felt like there wasn't enough time to devote to topics that I wanted to explore! Early on, however, I sensed the Lord saying that the week would be worthwhile no matter which seminars I attended, as long as my primary goal was to know Him better. Amen!

Since I originally signed up under the International Student Track, I had the opportunity to attend a couple sessions with international ministers, as well as students from 79 nations! My purpose in attending these sessions was to gain a better understanding of the international student experience and to grow in my ability to relate to other cultures, since many friends in Pittsburgh come from international backgrounds. We worshiped in Haitian Creole, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, and French! We explored topics ranging from "Dwelling Among Your Own People" to "Dwelling Among People Who Are Different" and how Jesus can be Lord of our lives. I was blessed to meet several new friends who were studying in different parts of the United States.

One morning, Lisa Espinelli Chinn (Director, IV International Student Ministries) asked us,
"Do we pray for our people?" and I realized that I didn't know who "my people" were! Apart from the family of God, I do not hold too much identity in one nationality. This is maybe typical of many Americans, since we are the "melting pot!"

But what is my unique culture, and how might God want to use me to minister to it?

Lisa referred to the Old Testament story of Queen Esther, telling us how God used her to save her people, the Jews, at a time when they were facing death at the hand of the government.

I wonder how God might use me even on a smaller scale, since I am obviously not royalty, to care for a specific people group?

As I think about my cultural identity, I know that I am proud of my French grandmother and the courage she showed in immigrating to the US. As the daughter of missionaries, I also have a natural bond with people who have traveled and who sometimes take on an identity of other cultures. I am curious about the rest of my family's English and German histories, too...so maybe "my people" on an ethnic basis are European Americans, or just Americans in general.

Through other sessions, the Urbana Missions Conference reinforced to me that my relationship with Christ will impact how I view social justice, reconciliation, and prayer.

-How am I showing compassion for displaced people groups, for undocumented immigrants, and for victims of human trafficking?
I was inspired to contact the International Justice Mission about how I might be involved with their work. Please hold me accountable to this, since I haven't done it yet.

-How am I caring for the environment?
I was inspired by a woman from Trinidad and Tobago, who is a professor and researcher there. She spoke about her commitment to influencing Caribbean policy with her environmental research. Here was a woman deeply committed to God, to her family, and to science!

-How can my career in science be useful?
I hope that my work in bioengineering can bring glory to God and be used for His kingdom.

-How do I handle money?
Pastor Shane Claiborne from Philadelphia challenged us by asking, "If credit card companies can be creative in getting people into debt, how can Christians get creative to get out of debt [and be creative with their money in general]?"

 He also talked about how God's way was incarnation, as Christ left the unity and awesomeness of heaven to live among us. God's way wasn't a special advertising campaign, neither marketing nor branding. Christianity is not like product placement, where we want instant results and fame. We cannot lord ourselves over the poor.

Love is not cheap! Christ's way is about humility, patience, powerlessness, compassion and reconciliation.

I was encouraged by a Rwandan pastor, who spoke about his commitment to showing God's love to the very people group who had murdered many of his own.

A Korean pastor shared his past struggle with anger toward the Japanese, among whom he now lives and shares the gospel. He even asked forgiveness from any Japanese members of the audience for his former attitude, and I heard one man in front of me start to cry when he was speaking these words.

Both pastors emphasized God's reconciliation with us-through the cross-as the basis for any reconciliation we can have with others.

I was also encouraged by nightly "family groups" when I met with my roommates from Pitt Intervarsity, to reflect on the day, share what each other was learning, and pray together.

When I attended a seminar on how to pray through scripture, the Canadian pastor who was leading it just wept when he saw the crowded room of students who came. He spoke boldly and encouraged us to pray not only for ourselves or our friends' needs--which can keep us focused only on ourselves--but to pray for the advancement of the Gospel through the answers to these requests for healing: "God, please heal Nancy so she can keep spreading Your word."

The pastor read through Psalm 115, showing how we can pray by using some of the words as ways to thank God, to praise Him for who He is, and to pray that we would be more like Him.

Since then, I have experienced the pleasure of praying through sections of scripture, allowing the words to soak into my heart and mind. As I reflected on what Christ's love means, and the fullness that we have in Him, I was brought to tears by this passage:

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Scripture really is
"living and active," as Hebrews 4:12 says.

I want to end by just saying that it was wonderful to experience the different "neighborhoods" that the worship leaders introduced to us in music: We worshiped with the style of an African American community, Latina culture in the Bronx, French Canadian and Hindi songs.

One of my favorites was taught in Swahili, entitled "Hakuna Mungu." The first line declares, "There's no one like Jesus!" and I could see some similarity in the language to Haitian Creole, which I learned as a kid.

We ended the week by celebrating the New Year together. We took communion, sang, and danced. I don't know if I will experience anything like it again until heaven: people of every tribe, tongue and nation coming together to say, "Jesus Christ is Lord!"

Express Your View

Kristen Agnew's Articles:

Tim Tebow's Ad Against Abortion Promotes Parenthood/Protests!” (March 13, 10, 4:47 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

 "Avatar' Amazes Audiences At Adventure Accumulating Outright Oscar Nominations Now!" (Feb 04, 10, 2:30 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

“Truth Triumphs Technology Through The Centuries, Celebrating Christ's Conception Called Christmas!  (Dec 23, 09, 4:31 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

“'Jon & Kate Plus 8' Expresses Enormous Emotions Dawning Divorce's Disappointment!”  (Nov 25, 09, 10:38 a.m.) By Kristen Agnew

"Trusting Truth Through Tough Times!"  (Sept 21, 09, 5:10 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

"Fervently 'Faith Like Potatoes' Produces Farmer's Vegetables Victoriously Blending Beliefs!"   (Aug 16, 09, 5:16 p.m.)By Kristen Agnew

Pride Plummets People's Souls Sinfully Showing Satan's Shame!”(July 30, 09, 7:01 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

“Judging Jesus' Style Saves Souls, Crashes Condemnation!”  (July 17, 09, 12:29 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

Cast Closed Accounts Accepting Christ's Commitment!” (July 09, 09, 11:10 a.m.) By Kristen Agnew

"Surprisingly Slumdog Millionaire Makes Eight Expensive Oscars Outright!" (July 02, 09, 9:18 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

"Perseverance Produces Christ's Committed Crop!" (July 02, 09, 6:03 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew

Agnew on Video:

“Actively AIV Students Serve Offering OIF's Mercy Ministry Momentum!  (April 19, 10, 9:57 a.m.) By Ramesh C. Reddy

 Agnew Awesomely Leads Living Acts Audience!” (July 18, 09, 5:48 p.m.) By Kristen Agnew




Copyright 2010 Pittsburgh Standard
Reproduction or reuse for profit prohibited without written consent from Pittsburgh Standard