Urbana directory Jim Tebbe had opened the convention a few nights earlier with a challenge for us to seek God and have Him shape the direction for our lives. I remember Jim Tebbe announcing that 144 countries were represented there that night. Surely Rev 7:9-10’s reference about a great multitude of every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne, this had to be what the writer John had envisioned.
We walk up to the hotel ballroom and we hear a loud chorus behind shut doors. The door opens slightly as a few people trickle in and out and it is clear the walls and doors are insulated. We chat with a few people outside that we recognize from the small group on wednesday night. One girl was there at Urbana back in ’06. David starts talking about his military stories to a few friends and since I’ve heard a few of them, I head in a little earlier to grab a seat.
I get a glimpse at the gathering here tonight. it’s HUGE. what the heck?! It is freaking hot in this room. This place is packed! The room probably sits a good 300-400 people and there is definitely a lot of people here. A glance around the room and it is as culturally diverse a group as I’ve ever seen. America, Europe, South America, Afria, Asia, Australia…almost all the continents are represented here tonight. The worship reaches a feverish tone and the energy is indescribable. But before I know it, it’s midnight and we sing the Lord’s prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
Brothers and sisters who have never met before embrace, wish each other well, and pray for one another. I am dumbfounded at the moment.
In the face of a global financial crisis, deteriorating families, and a cancerous materialism, these are bleak times and many are looking towards better days. The void and longing these people face can only be met by an all fulfilling God. It is the prayer of some in this room that in this new year the people in Shanghai will learn and accept a Savior that brings new life.