My Urbana Experience

Versions of the following testimony were shared at InterVarsity Large Group and at the Palo Alto Vineyard Church:

The overarching theme at Urbana15 was "What story will you tell?" and this is my story from Urbana - one with two parts:
1. Our God is a Global God
2. Technology can be a part of God's Global mission!

Speaking to the first point, the way I resonated with this most strongly was through the different styles of worship that we had throughout the conference. Each cultural background had its own amazing story and getting a chance to step into that and choose to see and understand the story of that group was amazing. We learned from the worship team how gospel music was shaped by shared experiences by African-Americans and how it's evolved over time through the era of slavery, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and into the discussions of today's age.

But more than that, we began to hear pieces and stories from Christians from all around the world as we started to understand what the church looks like at a global scale. Extraordinary stories of persecution, of drastic lifestyle changes all contributed to the variety of experiences that make up God's global story. And we spent one night in particular praying and responding to the persecution of Christians in the most persecuted countries around the world. I think that night opened my eyes to a new sense of what it means to follow Christ. It shouldn't be a comfortable act that resides in the background. Instead, we should expect it to be risky and that actively choosing into it means surrending things in our lives we've grown comfortable with, and trusting in God's provision even in the most desperate of times.

The second revelation I had at Urbana was through a track called #hack4missions, where I came to realization that God's global mission can involve people passionate and interested in technology like myself! Over the course of #hack4missions, we explored projects ranging from redesigning dashboards for global health EMRs to hacking routers to distribute contentious material across the borders of some of the world's most dangerous countriers for Christians. It was here that I learned from the stories of those that have gone before that a career in technology and a heart for God's global kingdom does not have to be mutually exclusive and that there are, in fact, exciting ways to pursue a calling to use technology to spread the gospel and support relief efforts overseas.

Given how ubitiquous the hi-tech industry has become particularly at Stanford and the Bay Area, I challenge others to consider actively exploring ways to glorify God with the unique interests and skills that he's given us. For some of us, perhaps we are called to minister to those around us in our workplace, but if we expect following God to be risky - perhaps there are ways even Stanford-educated engineers can respond actively by stepping outside the comfortable, cushy lifestyles of a jobs in the Silicon Valley. I share this with you today, because the conviction I had during Urbana to explore this more intimately has led me to seriously reconsider my plans after graduating from my coterminal degree this coming fall. I'm not sure what the next concrete step looks like, but I have faith that God will continue guiding me in ways that will hopefully become clear to me in time...and that's why I give glory to God!