What if your willingness to obey God’s calling — no matter how small or big — could change your entire life? The truth is that God often doesn’t give big-picture plans for our lives, with each step mapped out neatly. Most often, he just asks us to follow his voice from day to day and to use the gifts he’s given us to take part in opportunities happening around us. The simple decision to be polite to that stranger in line at the grocery store, pray intentionally for your neighbors or register for a conference could be the very thing God uses to change your life and the lives of generations to come.
That’s exactly what happened in the Stobbe family through the Urbana student missions conference. In 2012, Bethany Stobbe felt called to register for Urbana and attend the five-day event. Among her family members, Bethany was a third-generation attendee of the conference.
It was at Urbana 12 that Bethany sought out different organizations regarding potential job opportunities. She wanted to learn more about missions and organizations that were offering jobs in her field of study — marketing. It was at Urbana, in fact, that she first connected with volunteers from Wycliffe. “We looked and there was one position listed at that time that [the volunteer] emailed to me,” Bethany recalls. “That position didn't fit what I was looking for, but I was glad to know there were jobs that were at least similar to what I wanted to do long-term.”
Bethany’s passions and talents were concentrated in marketing, and though she talked with numerous organizations about opportunities to serve, Wycliffe was still in the back of her mind. “After looking at several websites and organizations [to apply for jobs], I remembered the Wycliffe website,” she says. “There was a post listed there for a position as a marketing coordinator which sounded like a great place for me to start. I applied to that one job, got it, and here I am in Orlando!”
Bethany currently works in the Marketing department at the Wycliffe USA headquarters in Orlando, Florida. There, she has the chance to tell others about all the ways they can support Bible translation.
But God started using Urbana to call the Stobbe family to support missions long before 2012. Bethany’s grandfather, Les, attended the Urbana missions conference in the 1950s, and the experience had a lasting impact on him, too. “We traveled in a bus carrying students from three colleges in Winnipeg and began singing hymns out of the InterVarsity Hymnal,” Les remembers. “I still love those hymns, especially after singing them with 15,000 other students.”
The connections Les made at Urbana eventually led him to work at Moody Press in the 1970s. There, his story converged with Wycliffe, as he had the opportunity to work with many Wycliffe writers, since Moody Press was the unofficial publisher of Wycliffe biographies at the time.
In 1979, Les’ son Gerry attended the conference. “I grew up in a home with a mission focus,” Gerry notes, “but I didn't own it personally until Urbana.” That year, he felt called by God to take a summer missions trip to Vienna. And that summer missions trip eventually led Gerry and his family to support a missionary family — one that they partnered with for over 20 years.
It is amazing how God used Les’ experience at Urbana to increase his heart for missions, trickling down two generations. Growing up in a family that was focused on missions and on following God wherever he led, greatly affected how Les’ son Gerry raised his own daughters — Bethany among them.
God’s next step for your life may or may not be to attend Urbana 18. And that’s okay! But would you take some time to pray for the thousands of young people who will be attending? Pray that they, just like the Stobbes, will be inspired and challenged to participate in the work that God is doing in around the world.
And for those who are feeling God’s tug on their heart at the mention of this five-day conference, it’s not too late to register!