An Urbana Promise

4 Jan

I am still in the Urbana mode and singing sweet songs in my head that at one time during my Urbana experience I was able to be apart of some 16,000+ people singing in different languages to our creator in heaven. It was a moment like no other in a blink of an eye I saw what heaven can be, if only we live out Gods commands more instead of our desires.

Before I write more on my experience I want to share with you what I have committed my self too:

1. I will be inviting both believers and non believers to study Luke with me so they may truly get to know Jesus Christ the way I did during Urbana12.

2. I commit to serve and learn in a global or cross-cultural setting, however the length may be less than a year to more than 2 years.

Those are my commitments I made and I plan to stick to them.

Which brings me to what I have learned from Urbana12, first of all God Qualifies the called, he doesn’t call the qualified, and I for one am proof of it, because before I became an Outreach worker with Light Patrol, Youth Unlimited I had absolutely had no qualifications. But because I was faithful to God and listened to my calling he had for me, God has been teaching me many things in which have been a blessing to my work with Light Patrol. I have also come to terms that God is not done with me just yet, for I am being called by God to experience truly stepping out of my comfort zone by following his calling to “Nigeria” in which there he will have something for me to learn. I do not know what he will teach me, but I do know that I can not disobey the Lord God Almighty.

True in following God’s voice I will have to sacrifice my summer holidays from school to experience this, and true I am still going to be working with Light Patrol and must talk with my employers. However I am not to worried about them denying me, after all what I learn from “Nigeria” will be forever a lesson that with just strengthen my efforts with Light Patrol. What made me make this chose was meeting a lady who moved there 20 years ago with her husband just for a summer that now turned into 20 years of running a safe house for Human Trafficking Victims of Nigeria. She told me how her adopted daughter was sold at 3 months old when her mother had died, but was able to intervene and adopt the child. I have been a Prostitute and I know exactly how these individuals are feeling, the lady spoke to me on how she feels there are males being forced to work sexually as well but doesn’t know how to approach them. With my experience and God calling me there I know I can help. It makes me cry to know that somewhere there are Children as young as 3 months being bought and sold, I can’t live with that on my heart and that is why at Urbana 2012 I committed to serving God in whatever manner he has deemed me to serve.

I also had the privilege of sitting down to lunch with some fellow Urbana goer’s from Tyndale University where we also met our server. We had been challenged to get to know someone we never met before and so we chose our server at the restaurant and to our surprise we learned that RACISM still lives in Saint Louis, Missouri. Our waiter spoke to us on how ever since the black community gained equal rights all the whites moved out of Saint Louis, he spoke with tears in eyes as he stated “I hate to be honest but racism is still living here”. He spoke of how he moved back home to take care of his Grandmother because his parents didn’t want to, he spoke of how he was studying to become a Doctor to help the ill. Then when he asked if he would ever visit Toronto he was “I would not visit place that has Tim Hortons on every corner” which we knew was a joke. In the end we got to know someone that we didn’t know, but at the same time had been able to understand the exact pain he was feeling. After that meal the entire Tyndale grouped promised to pray for him and Saint Louis.

There are so many more things I have experienced but need some more time to think about them and pray for them.

David Blanchard – University Student, BA in Biblical Studies and Theology – Youth Ministry


Parting Thoughts

3 Jan

Well, I have been back now for a day or more and am still in the process of thinking and praying about what I experienced in St. Louis this Christmas break. It was a whirlwind adventure to say the least and one that I am sure I will remember for years to come. I hope in the next few days to also get some student reactions up here to compliment my own.

Ultimately Urbana was amazing, and basically everything that I expected and some. I know some of our students walked away from it truly blessed to be a part of it, and I hope to see genuine change in their lives as a result. For myself, I realized Urbana was not aimed at me – in that it is for students on secular campuses, and so my take away came from a variety of different sources. I found myself most fulfilled when I was able to help lead, or guide, or assist people in thinking or praying. I enjoyed the chance encounter with a student on the street, or hearing a student’s testimony shared with us one night and being able to pray over him and his ministry. On New Year’s Eve in particular I was also able to be one of over 300 volunteers serving communion to 16,000 people in just about 20 minutes. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. I also thought it was a wonderful way to ring in the new year, by feasting at the Lord’s Table.

Feasting and the Great Invitation were two of the overarching themes for this Urbana. I really enjoyed how they tried to incorporate these ideas into every aspect of the conference. They did a wonderful job with it, and really having it culminate in communion was just the cherry on top. Christians need to recognize we are at a time of bountiful harvest! The table is ready! We just need to invite people to come and eat with us. But so often we hoard for ourselves, we keep Jesus in the closet and we consume without inviting. It is the North American problem. Urbana really and genuinely tried to tackle this. They asked the hard question a number of times, “what is North America’s place in missions?” It is not an easy question to answer. It used to be that we had the ‘answers’ and we were going out to share, but now the majority world has more Christians than we ever had and missions is now about partnership and working together. I felt Urbana and Intervarsity were really trying to hammer this home, and I loved it. We are no longer the privileged white Jesus-loving westerners we once thought we were, but we are a broken people in need of God’s love who are partnering with other broken people from around the world to continue to share God’s love!

The idea of every tribe, every nation and every tongue was so powerful. From the songs sung in different tongues (we rang in New Years to a worship song in Hindi, amazing!) to the various international speakers exhorting us, you couldn’t help but notice the world was there. I am glad to have been a part of something that is striving to be as relevant and as open to taking the Great Commission so seriously. When asked if I would go again, I said yes, but only if I could do more. I believe in what they are doing and would like to volunteer or help lead better if I were to go again.

A Few Thoughts to Share

30 Dec
I never thought I would write a blog. The idea of writing more than the 140 characters that Twitter offered me was too much, as far a I am concerned. But there are a few things that happened to me in the last 28 hours that I had to share with you.
First thing happened last night [technically 2 nights ago, on 28th December]. It was cold, it was wet, the road was covered with ice, I was tired, and the organizers suggested that no one walk alone at night. Nevertheless, I made my way to the Hyatt to attend the regional prayer for the international student track. Having lived in Malaysia for over 10 years, I decided to join that group [as opposed to the Canada or even Hong Kong groups]. While the former part of the prayer session was good, it was the fellowship after that was so much fun. With some witty chit-chat and stimulating conversation, we stayed until 12:30am and none of us wanted to leave.
Second thing happened earlier today [technically yesterday, on 29th December]. I decided to honour a commitment that I had made earlier to Natalie Wong of the admissions office and decided to spend some time with her at the Tyndale booth. At first I though I would spend an hour, maybe two, and be on my way. I ended up staying till the closing. I had so much fun talking to potential students, offer my experience, my [somewhat limited] knowledge, and most importantly, my passion and love for Tyndale that the time just flew by. I had missed a seminar that I had planned to attend, but I was definitely sure that spending the afternoon with Natalie at the booth was more rewarding than anything I could’ve learned in any seminar.
Third thing was at the night session, during the assembling of the World Vision AIDS Caregiver kit. Mr Toby Capps from McKesson Medical-Surgical, who was instrumental in putting this program together, gave an address about the devastation of HIV/AIDS. Being interested in the promotion of  HIV/AIDS awareness myself, I was really moved by someone who spoke with such passion. After assembling my kits, I saw Mr Capps off stage, and went up to him and said “Thank You.” His response to me was “God Bless You.” While this might seem to be a very natural response, I was so moved that someone, who had done so much and help so many people would not accept the simple “Thank You” that I responded with “No, God Bless You” while choking back tears. This is something that I will definitely never forget.
One last thing I wanted to share…I witnessed a miracle today. While leaving the morning session, I suddenly realized that my mobile phone was missing and I probably dropped it somewhere alone the way. During the mad exodus of people heading out of the dome to lunch, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Amanda helped me look, first by visiting the table where I had just bought “the book of the day.” While the ladies selling the book didn’t see it, I just decided to kick under the table and felt something. Lo and behold, it was…you guessed it…my phone! Is that a miracle or what?!
Alfred P Lam – Seminary Student, MDiv – Pastoral and Chinese Ministry

What a night!

30 Dec

I have a lot of thoughts about this thing called Urbana, some positive, some negative. IMG_20121229_193512I am not trying to say Urbana is bad by any means, but I just get in that mindset as I sit in the crowd – call me a cynic. However, I was overwhelmed by the positive stuff last night when we went to the evening session. We were told to only bring a pen with us and that we would be doing something huge and not staying in our seats all night. Again I was a little skeptical, rolling my eyes, and even when I entered the dome I didn’t believe what we were about to do was going to be that special. But as they began to describe what we were going to be a part of my heart began to swell.

We were a part of what is called “A Join-In”. We were literally joining in on a mission. Partnered with World Vision and a large pharmaceutical company we were going to make 32,000 medical care packages. These packages were to be sent to Africa and mainly Swaziland. These care packages are given to Caregivers within the country who are able to provide basic medical care to people out in remote villages. These packages have basic care things in them from water purification tabs to IMG_20121229_202419petroleum jelly to latex gloves. The latex gloves actually was quite amazing to me, each package had 25 pairs in it. These are crucial to providing proper medical care. They talked about how the Caregivers often use plastic gloves or banana leaves to cover their hands. With the gloves we packed they will be able to care for 800,000 people, that is 800,000 touches of care.

The process began by dismissing us section by section to go down to the floor to assemble two packages. We were given postcards to write a note of encouragement on that we put in the packages. We then would assemble them and take to boxers who put 10 or so into a box then taped those up and put them straight into shipping containers. If you weren’t assembling packages they had some things for you to reflect on. They showed some documentaries on the screen that were extremely powerful. In the booklets they gave us they had some places for individual and small group reflection. All of it moved my heart so much. IMG_20121229_204540

What I really loved about this was not the ‘yay us’ attitude, but rather the 16,000 people coming together to do something overwhelmingly positive. That is what missions should be about! Community coming together to do something amazing. Something that would be impossible for an individual. I think that is why God created the church, because together we are strong and we can accomplish many great things in his name! Knowing that those 32,000 medical care packages are actually going to go overseas and have a positive impact for months to come was just incredible. It made my night, and may possibly be my highlight of the trip. I have never felt so united with 16,000 people before. I hope that this feeling, in myself and so many others continues. I hope that we continue to fight and see positive change come to the world. We can’t all make 32,000 care packages with our community, but we can do something, we need to be doing something!

James Brooks – Coordinator, Intercultural InitiativesIMG_20121229_204844

From Toronto To Saint Louis, Missouri

28 Dec

Re-posted from

Who knew that a young boy from age 13yrs old would live on the streets of Toronto, get entrapped to addictions of all sorts of drugs, prostitution to pay for those addictions to wanting to end his life. To being saved by God through many different people, and then brought to study at Tyndale to become a Youth Pastor not even knowing that God would soon call him to “Urbana 2012”. I can confidently say that nether you or I could have guessed or seen any of this coming or happening except for God almighty himself.
 The reason I can say that confidently is this person happens to be me David Blanchard age 29 and a University Student at Tyndale. The moment I accepted God into my life that night that I was going to kill my self, I knew that God would make changes in me that would mold me into the person he wish’s me to become. I just didn’t think that it would require me to leave my homeland to see what options he has for me; neither did I think I would enjoy it at all. I figured I would be shy and very closed minded knowing what I knew of what I wanted to be, but then again I should have known better with having God as the captain of this vessel sailing between the shores.
It has been 1 day since we have arrived into Saint Louis, Missouri meaning 1 day of seminars and interactions with individuals from all over the world. We begun our day with studying a part of the Gospel of Luke to going into the Dome where 10.000+ Individuals came together to go even further into the chapter, to singing together as ONE in worshipping OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. It was a very powerful moment for me this morning and to know that a huge portion of these individuals have come from secular university’s where they can’t worship God every day like I can at Tyndale. I can’t even begin to think of how they feel not being able to worship their God or let alone getting to meet him. From that we all went to Lunch before we all broke up and went to our own little Tracks and for me I had chosen “Poverty and Justice: Connecting God with Gods heart for the poor and the work of Love and Justice” after all I know from personnel experience. I also happen to be a Staff Member with “Light Patrol, Youth Unlimited (Youth for Christ), in which we work out of a 30 foot Motor Home and drive around the downtown bring hope to the hopeless.
The thing that begun to tear at my heart is during my entire time hear in St Louis so far is that I have not seen one person sleeping on the streets like I would in the Toronto and that begins to make me think “ How are the homeless treated here?” “What do they do with the homeless when events like this happen?” I can ask many more questions about the homeless here. Perhaps that could be the reason in which God has brought me here to Urbana 2012, all I can do is have an open mind and listen to God’s voice and direction. I know that God wants me to learn more about the Human Trafficking Victims and that is why I will be attending another session on Sunday for that. Of course I will be attending other workshops from here to that time, but I know that with God being the Captain of this vessel there is no dry land for this to run ashore, until then I will keep on sailing just like the song states: “And I will sail my Vessel, Tell the river runs dry” (Song: I will Sail my Vessel-Unknown Artist)
So bring on the Good Stuff Lord Jesus I want some of everything, don’t be to easy on me just because of my age. I want to give my life to over and over again and serve you in what ever way you have planned for me, I am your vessel in which is in your steering hands.
David Blanchard – University Student, BA in Biblical Studies and Theology – Youth Ministry

First Impressions

28 Dec

I had to comment on what just happened. I am not talking about the flashy lights, or the big band, but rather the overwhelming feeling that everybody in that dome came to worship Jesus.

I arrived in St. Louis around noon and had some time to take in the city before the session started. Our beloved Tyndale students didn’t arrive until much later, due to their bus being delayed at the border for 6 hours! However, we all arrived and got checked into the hotel and registered at the conference. We all have nice name tags and blue wristbands. It was about what I expected. Then we walked into the dome where the main sessions were and I was immediately overwhelmed by not only the amount of people but also the flashiness of everything. The sound system alone looks like it cost a good chunk of change, not too mention the lights. And then the band came out and opened us in a time of worship through music. They were big and loud and well timed. I knew about 1 song before they got to Revelation Song, and this is when it all changed in my head. They started singing Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty in 4 different languages, French, Spanish, Cantonese and English. It was amazing! Hearing the voices of people from around the world singing the praise of Revelation, a song we are told the heavenly beings sing without ceasing. It was incredible. If they wanted to make a good first impression, they did it! I was floored by this and loved every minute that came afterwards, from the drama to the wonderful exposition of Luke 4:14-30 by an African preacher named Calisto. They set the tone well and didn’t look back.

I am excited for what’s to come for our students, and for myself. It will be an adventure for sure and I eagerly await every minute of it!

James Brooks – Coordinator: Intercultural Initiatives

Expectancy or Expectation?

26 Dec
It’s my second time going to Urbana and to be honest, I am even more grateful that I have the chance to go because last Wed. I was in a horrible car accident.  Our car was going straight through an intersection through a green turning into yellow light, and cars across from us were trying to turn left.  One of them didn’t look before they turned and hit us almost head on.  The shock was crazy and my face slammed into the air bag (Thank God for air bags!) Thank God no one was seriously hurt.
My friend Gilman told me, there must be a reason why God saved your life from the car crash, because it could have been much worse.  I remember my journey to Urbana in ’09, I felt called to go to Quebec for missions and when I did go, I felt God calling me to become a pastor in Montreal.  Now I am going to Urbana again to learn from the pastors track and see how God wants me to motivate other people to go on missions, and how I can equip people for ministry and evangelism.  God must have saved me from the car crash because He still has a calling for me.  I’m sure He has a calling for you too, and maybe you will find it at Urbana just like I did.
Another thing that another friend told me was that going to Urbana you can either have expectations or expectancy.  Expectations means you are expecting God to reveal Himself in a particular way according to your liking or your assumptions.  That is not the way to go.  Expectancy is better. Expectancy is being open to God.  Whatever way God uses to speak to you, you are open.  So I am going to Urbana not with high expectations but with expectancy.
I am excited because I know God will do amazing things and speak to a lot of us.  I am excited to learn and grow and be further motivated to serve God.  I know Urbana is not magic so I cannot be transformed without personal effort of my own as well as dependence upon God.  It’s not like automatically I will be motivated to read the Bible more but it has to do with my own attitude and lifestyle changes as well.
I pray for all of us as we go to Urbana to appreciate this opportunity and ask God to help us be open to Him.
Martine Lee – Seminary Student, Graduate Diploma

Lighting the Torch

13 Dec

There is not anything that has struck me as hard as disappointment has in my life. From early on in my teenage life I set high goals, named achievements I wanted to achieve and listed countless desirables that I wanted to have. At a young age, I actually knew who I wanted to be—anything better than those who I was surrounded by. I wanted to taste success and grow into someone who could be respected. Ultimately, my disappointment existed because my efforts had nothing to do with God and the plans that He had.

I put myself out there in high school, I auditioned, I applied, I sang, I registered for this and that and did what I could to be active and involved, to be creative and to take on leadership roles. As a first year Biblical Studies and Theology major at Tyndale University in Toronto, I reflect back to my high school days where I worked hard at becoming what? A Christ figure? I don’t think so. As a Christian, if there is vanity as you strive for success, God will not honor your efforts. So what did I really gain in high school? I suppose I discovered what it meant to be persistent, but eventually lost the drive and passion that I originally had. I was rejected, tried, mocked, and abandoned in those years by friends and even teachers. I tried so hard at being the best version of myself that I could be. I was not trying to be like Jesus—although I told people that I was. I wanted to be a leader and was more interested in that then being a follower of Christ.

During the final years of high school, the Lord started impressing on my heart of the desperation of the broken and lost lives around the world. He began to break my heart for people and caused me to focus my eyes on where His heart was—the poor, the sick, and the widowed. What could I do though? I could pray. Still, I felt anger build up inside of me at the injustice I saw around the world and how complacent many Christians around the world were.

If God has given you an idea of your calling, or a picture of who he created you to be, follow through with it. It is not about you. In fact, your life and all of creation has not come into existence so that you can find satisfaction in your own fruitless pursuits. The purpose of life is centralized on glorifying God and is revolved around establishing and maintaining relationship a relationship with Him. He is calling you to do great things, to be influential for His cause.

From what I have learned about the conference, Urbana harbours the importance of spreading the Gospel and participating in missions. It is at functions like this where God gives us tools and methods of doing what he has set out for us.

It is clear that God is calling us to be set apart from those who are satisfied with living a non-extraordinary life, people who are comfortable with the madness of the world. He is calling us to rise up as soldiers in his army to fight darkness, battle poverty, and to teach the world His methods and his love and mercy.

I consider myself to be a fighter; however I have never been in an actual fist fight. I want to defend the weak and fight things like human trafficking in any way that I can. Through Tyndale, I found out of a global missions outreach opportunity to volunteer for 3 weeks in India to work alongside those caught up in sex and drug trafficking. A few days ago I found out that I was accepted to be a part of the team to go. How awesome is God!? I suppose it takes faith and willingness! I choose to live an extraordinary life as I let God take me where He wants, even if it means placing me in a battle between light and darkness.

In preparation for the Conference that is thirteen days away, I continue to pray that God will lead me in the right direction at Urbana; that I will attend the right seminars; and meet the right people.

A couple of seminars that I intend on taking include: ‘Discerning the Missionary Call’, ‘Cross-Cultural Mission as Crucible for Spiritual Transformation’, and ‘Connecting with God’s Heart for the Poor, the Work of Love and Justice’. I think that this conference will light a torch. Torches provide light in dark places. Think about the role that you play as a Christian and your responsibility to destroy acts of destruction in the world and how effective you can be if you just allow yourself to burn with passion for God and His people. That is what matters. I want to have more fire within me. Thankfully I have learned to torch my past disappointments and fears. Can you do that too? Or will you allow yourself to crumble under pressure of becoming something more. Lead people to God, heal the sick, and defend the weak. God is our supplier for everything—so what is there to be fearful of? Nothing.

What do I want to do with the information I gain from Urbana? Truthfully, I am letting God put me where He wants. I really do not know what I will be doing in my ministry career. I just know that Urbana will help set me in the right direction, and help me to be more of the person God created me to me.

I expect God’s presence to be at Urbana, I expect to meet many people and establish new friendships with them. I anticipate a new perspective of being a Christian, and potentially working as a pastor and missionary. I expect to be blown away. I expect to add a ton of new dreams and goals—yet I won’t go about it like I did in high school, I will do it for God’s glory and not my own. I will light up darkness with the love and hope that God brings.

Melanie Otto – University College Student, BA in Biblical Studies and Theology

Getting Ready

10 Dec

It has been exciting to assist our students get ready for Urbana 12.  So many Tyndale staff and faculty have been praying for this group.  Continue to pray for them as they are in the midst of exams pre-Urbana.  The Urbana site provides some good preparation material for Urbana to which was can all avail ourselves –

Dr. Daniel L. Wong

Tyndale goes to Urbana

4 Dec

Hey all, thanks for checking out the blog! This is a space where staff and students will come and share their Urbana12 experiences before, during, and after Urbana. We are excited to be going this year and taking along at least 23 students! Please be in prayer with us as there is still a lot to do between now and then. Also be sure to check back here frequently and read new stories and things that are happening in the lives of our staff and students as we prepare.

Thank you