What Revelation Revealed to Students at Urbana18
Behold, the lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered!
These were words sung this past week by the 10,000 participants of Urbana18. They were among the words discussed and pondered every morning as those participants gathered in communities of 300, 400 and 500 to study Revelation.
A large group of more than 260 Canadian students and 40 InterVarsity staff formed one of those communities. Coming into the week, they experienced uncertainty, bringing in a variety of preconceptions about the book.
“I think I was mostly nervous about how to approach it,” said Rachel Gaynor, a student leader at InterVarsity’s group at Martin Grove High School in Toronto and a member of Urbana’s Canadian Student Leadership Track (CSLT). “There’s so much going on in the book, so many symbols. I felt very overwhelmed by it as an individual.”
“Coming into Urbana, I really wanted to spend time in the word,” said Richelle Ho, a student leader at the University of Calgary and another member of CSLT, “especially with Revelation. It’s always been rather difficult and traumatic for me to read.”
During the inductive-style bible studies facilitated at Urbana, students broke into groups of seven or eight and took time to read over the passage for that day, formulating their own questions and observations. They shared their thoughts with their small groups before joining together as a large group to work through their questions.
According to the students, one of the best things about the Revelation studies was the opportunity to study with hundreds of other students.
“I think it’s good that CSLT has been a big group,” said Richelle. “When we study the Bible at school, it’s in much smaller groups. But in that dynamic [at Urbana], everyone can find something new, and when there’s more people, there are more ideas that can be shared.”
“I benefitted from the communal studying of Revelation,” said Rachel, “from how many cultures have been represented this week and how many people from all over the world have poured their insight into these passages. I think it’s given me a lot more confidence in my interpretation of [Revelation], and a lot more passion about [its] messages.”
As students grappled with their own struggles with faith in light of Revelation, they received an invitation from Jesus to commit their whole lives to following him. In Revelation they met the Jesus who is the lion of Judah – strong and victorious over the gravest of troubles. But they also discovered this same Jesus is the lamb who suffered for the world, paving the way for all peoples to receive the living water he offers free of charge. This Jesus gave them a message of hope in suffering through Revelation, that he sees and knows their troubles and that he has already overcome all that hinders them. Students left with a new hope that they can remain faithful despite the barriers they face because King Jesus is on the throne – he has won.
Students are heading home with new ideas about the glory and love of Jesus. They’re going back with greater enthusiasm and insight into how to share the Bible with their friends at school. Please pray that they would have ample time to rest and soak in the themes they’ve learned about through Urbana. Pray also that they would courageously take the next steps they sensed God inviting them to take as they leave Urbana and go back to their schools, neighbourhoods, friendships and families.