Snapshots of North American Missions: Urbana 2019

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Go. Serve. Love and its parent organization, Mission Data International, showed up a week and a half ago at Urbana 2019.

Urbana’s an Intervarsity-sponsored “catalytic event bringing together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations and schools.”

We asked one of our exhibitors, Rebecca Skinner, to give you the recap on what she’s seeing in missions trends. 

Members of the Mission Data International team [including the author, right] at Urbana 2019, exhibiting to mobilize the next generation of global workers.

Taking a pulse on the American missions community is not an easy task. But with 10,000 attendees, the Urbana Student Missions Conference is a pretty good place to start. Interacting with and observing mission representatives in the exhibit hall for five days provided a panoramic snapshot of how God is moving to engage us to be on mission with Him.

And who knows? You might even find some great resources for on your own mission journey.

PRAYER: People seeking God’s direction everywhere you turn.

It was an energizing gift to witness groups of people praying together throughout the Urbana exhibit hall. It was almost impossible to walk down an aisle and not see people with their heads bowed praying for God’s wisdom, discernment and direction.

Taking the fragrance and name of Jesus to the nations can only come from the overflow of an intimate walk with God. Attempting to do things by personal strength, no matter how good the intentions, will always be folly.

Action Point

Shuffle prayer to the top of your own priority list–because it’s our privilege to interact personally with the Creator of this third rock, and to have his ear.

  • Consider an extended time seeking the Lord at an area House of Prayer. Locate one near you using the IHOP Network.
  • Commit to pray regularly for unreached peoples around the world using the free prayer guides at or the Operation World and Joshua Project prayer apps.

PARTNERSHIPS: New collaborations shout, the goal is more important than the organization.

Partnerships are always evidence of the fact that we can do it better together as Christ’s Body. Taking the name and love of Jesus to all nations isn’t an opportunity for competition and one-upmanship. It’s a shared goal we accomplish in unity–Jesus’ last prayer for us on earth (John 17).

Notable partnerships
  • Medical Missions connects healthcare providers with organizations sponsoring medical missions by offering a free, searchable database of health-related volunteer opportunities and medical mission trips. 
  • Scatter Global mobilizes Jesus-followers from many professions to intentionally pursue their vocation in the least-reached marketplaces of the world.
  • Perspectives: These classes are designed to “use what’s in you to bless the world around you.” It’s is a fifteen week course offered around North America, designed around four vantage points or “perspectives” — Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. Each one highlights different aspects of God’s global purpose. Find a class starting near you now (there’s a link for Canadians in the right sidebar). Five sending organizations are offereing scholarships for Urbana 2018 attendees.
  • Missional Life is a community of like minded, passionate disciples who encourage, support and pray for one another on their missions journey. They explain, “a heart for missions is a flame that burns in us and yet is constantly attacked by discouragement, fear, discomfort, and loneliness…The Missional.Life community lives out Hebrews 10:24 by ‘spurring one another on toward love and good deeds.'”

PREPARATION: Greater emphasis on training, services and care for missionaries so they can Go WELL and be faithful for the LONG HAUL.

You might already know that Go Serve Love is a fan of experiential training opportunities. So much so, we have a whole tab of our Hands-on Adventures.

It was great to meet & interact with representatives from Global Frontier Mission and Café 1040 while at Urbana. I also enjoyed learning about the Bible training schools that are part of TorchBearers International, located around the world with multi-cultural classrooms and ample opportunity for outreach and service. In addition, the West Institute offers a one year Master’s degree program focused on personal application of God’s Word.

It was impossible to overlook the large number of apprenticeships and internships now offered by many sending organizations. Often referred to as mid-term missions, these 3 month to 2 year opportunities immerse participants in another culture, while working with an established missionary family or team.

These internships are long enough for participants to begin language learning, wrestle with true culture shock, and cultivate necessary interpersonal skills–all while getting a decent taste of cross-cultural ministry.

The hope is that coming out of an internship like this, participants will be able to make more informed decisions and that they would be better equipped to faithfully execute cross-cultural ministry for the long haul. To see internships currently being offered from a variety of organizations visit our sister site,

Other helpful resources:

  • Provisio: Dreading support raising? Chances are you might not have God’s perspectives on it. Provisio’s online course and mentoring might be just what you need as you to set your thoughts and goals in the right direction.
  • Marketplace Development and Enterprises (MDE) can help you find positions in Finance, IT, Engineering and Web Development, teaching positions in K-12 levels, and more! These are full-time paid positions, with benefits. The income would allow you to live, provide a valid visa for access, and create opportunities to use your God-given gifts in the marketplace to reach the lost for Christ.
  • Interaction International: Don’t forget the impact which living overseas will have on your kids. Read up on the unique makeup of the Third-Culture Kid (TCK) with the newly revised 3rd edition of Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds.

Heading overseas can at times be a lonely experience. But it was never meant to be solo. Be encouraged that God is mobilizing people around the world to go and make disciples.

Post-publication note: William Cheung was one over 15,000 students at Urbana this year. Want to feel like you were there?


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5 thoughts on “Snapshots of North American Missions: Urbana 2019

    • Go. Serve. Love says:

      Thanks for the heads up! For those of you curious, I’ll save you the Google search. An externship is “a temporary training program in a workplace, especially one offered to students as part of a course of study.”

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