In 1981, I was a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin Madison, majoring in chemical engineering. As a Christian, I longed to be used by God, so attended the Urbana missions conference with joy and anticipation. What would God do?
With many friends from my college campus, we drove down to Champagne/Urbana, Illinois. I went expectantly. I walked the hall of missionaries with interest, sang as we worshipped, listened to the messages, and networked in my free time. I loved the conference.
God changed me in two specific ways that week. First was through a challenge from one of the speakers to befriend International students; specifically, we should pray for one new international friendship. This was a challenge to my predominantly White upbringing in a small Midwestern city.
Second, God seemed to be leading me to change majors. I didn’t feel chemical engineering suited my passion to work with people, so I prayed. That week, while eating lunch, an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship staff worker struck up a conversation with me and we discussed my search for a new major. He told me about his wife, who was a mother and a nurse. He thought that nursing was a very versatile major: “You could be a missionary nurse and you could also have a major suited to motherhood and family life. After all, everyone gets sick. Nurses are needed!”
Upon returning to campus, I prayed to meet an international student. And God answered! Within days, I met an Iranian woman and we became friends. Soon I developed many international friends, broadening my life and worldview.
Continuing to pray, I applied for nursing school and graduated with a BSN. Since then, I’ve seen God use me as a blessing to others as a nurse, mother, and volunteer with Nurses Christian Fellowship. And God continues to lead me! Recently I started a new position as a provisional nurse staff minister with NCF.
Today, I recall how God used Urbana to shape me, expand my worldview, and further my call as a nurse. May he continue to guide all of us at Urbana 2022, molding us into his vessels for noble use.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Colleen Christenson, BSN, RN, serves as a provisional nurse staff minister with Nurses Christian Fellowship. She’s been married for 36 years and has 2 daughters.
The Urbana Student Missions Conference, December 28-31 in Indianapolis, IN, is a milestone moment. It’s a sacred space for vibrant, multicultural worship, dynamic Bible teachings, and eye-opening testimonies from the global Church. It’s a space for whole-life, whole-world discipleship — discovering how God is calling us to use our gifts and passions in his global mission. Register here.