ARE YOU ATTENDING URBANA 18?
Do you want to be a Christian writer?
Karen Stiller, a senior editor of Faith Today magazine (LIM’s partner publication), is a seminar presenter at Urbana 18 – Intervarsity’s 25th Student Missions Conference, December 27-31, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri.
The vision for Urbana is, “to compel this generation to give their whole lives for God’s global mission.” This year’s theme is “Faithful Witness.” As well as editing Faith Today, Stiller has been involved in several book projects, all of which try to tell the story of God’s Church at work around the world and in Canada. She also just earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-fiction, writing about her life as a minister’s wife. Writing is a huge part of her life professionally, but also in her faith, and she enjoys mentoring younger writers.
If you are attending Urbana, and can find her in the crowd, please say hello, whether you attend the seminar or not.
Meanwhile, here are some questions we can all ponder as we consider the beautiful and challenging intersection of faith and writing.
1. What role has spiritual writing played in your life, whether through reading or writing?
2. How difficult is it to be completely transparent as Christian writers, to tell the truth about ourselves in our writing, especially about the parts of ourselves that we would like to change?
3. Often in writing about faith it is better to explore than explain, ponder rather than preach. How has this lived out in your life and writing?
4. Telling our own true stories well is an essential part of authentic and beautiful Christian writing. What are your stories that you are ready to tell?
You can find out more about Urbana at www.urbana.org.
Testimony Written by Megan Maclaine
InterVarsity Communications Writer
I cancelled my Urbana15 registration in November.
“I’m not going to be a missionary overseas,” I told my InterVarsity staff mentor. “And I want to go home for the holidays.”
She replied, “Why not go home, come to Urbana, and then go back home again?”
Later that week, I re-registered. I was one of 16,000 participants.
And it turned out Urbana wasn’t only for students looking to serve overseas. It was also for those of us called to serve in other ways. And for me, that was through writing.
I knew I wanted to be a writer after my third year of university. But a year later at Urbana, I struggled with wondering whether writing counted as a ‘missional’ vocation. Was my call to be a writer on the same level as my friend’s call to serve in the Middle East? I asked God again and again, “is writing enough?”
On the third day of Urbana15, I sat in the hallway outside the prayer room. Later, I wrote in my journal: “Mentally, I knew I needed prayer but I physically couldn’t go in.” I realized that I was idolizing more ‘church-related’ job paths, thinking those had the most value. I wrote, “But God said to me, ‘You can let them go. You can let them go.’ And so I got up and went into prayer. And I let them go.”
Now that Urbana18 is almost here, I think it’s funny that I’m InterVarsity Canada’s Communications Writer. Now I’m in charge of promoting Urbana on social media, and I’ll even be working as a writer during the conference!
At Urbana, students glimpse God’s community across the world. They step out of their North American contexts and experience what worship and service look like in other cultures.
That’s why we want 2,000 Canadian students to attend. Urbana will help Canadian students discover the adventure God has gifted them for. No matter if they’re headed for jobs in engineering, medicine, pastoring or writing, Urbana will help them realize their critical role in God’s worldwide mission.
Because I went to Urbana, I am confident that my pursuit of writing is a direct reflection of how God made me and the purposes he made me for.
At Urbana18, even more students will discern their own calling. And, like me, they’ll be inspired and empowered to say yes.