I just came from a news conference where Urbana 12 Director Tom Lin was asked to describe the current student generation. I loved his response:
They are soft-hearted, he said, and ready to make a commitment. They want to be challenged, and they respond well to being challenged. And they’re buying a lot of books.
That last comment caught me by surprise — students who live so much in the land of texting and twitter, who read class notes on the Internet and books on their iPhones, are still buying bulky, bound books. How absolutely remarkable.
Here’s something that’s even more remarkable. On Sunday evening, the 16,000 participants at Urbana 12 were asked to put their commitments down on paper – to use pen and ink to record their promises, then hand them in.
Just over 10,000 people responded tangibly.
Here’s a record of the commitments:
96 people decided to become a first-time follower of Jesus.
2,740 recommitted their lives to Jesus.
6,434 committed to inviting a friend who does not follow Jesus to study the Bible.
7,058 committed to serving and learning in a global or cross-cultural setting.
5,744 committed to going on a short-term (less than one year) mission.
3,071 committed to going on a mid-term (one-to-two year) mission.
4,224 committed to investing their lives in long-term (more than two years) mission.
You are probably wondering about the strength of these commitments. I can’t speak for the 10, 000 people who signed cards last night. But I can tell you that 33 years ago I signed my first commitment card at Urbana 79. I wasn’t as courageous as the 4,224 people who committed to serving long-term in missions last night. My commitment was simply to pray about the possibility of living a missional life.
I followed through with my promise to pray. And ever since God has been inviting me into amazing opportunities to serve him, first in journalism and now in student ministry.
Along the way, I’ve learned that making a commitment to God leads to a joyous and full life. I’m thrilled that 10,000 others are moving in the same direction.