Tuesday, December 29, 2009

At Urbana 09

I'm at the Urbana 09 student missions convention in St. Louis, and there's a lot of great stuff going on both in the program and in the bookstore. If you want to watch, you can see many of the plenary sessions online at the free webcast page of the Urbana 09 website. Check out the amazing 15-minute Welcome to Urbana tap dance/spoken word presentation of John 1, Ruth Padilla DeBorst's talk on the movement of peoples, York Moore's abolitionist testimony, the Rahab dramatic monologue and the video clips on the state of Christianity and on human trafficking. Powerful, moving stuff.

My job this Urbana, as at previous conventions in 03 and 06, is to manage the book info booths in our bookstore. That means I roam the floor in a bright orange Home Depot-like vest answering questions and helping people find the books they're looking for (and didn't know they were looking for). We get questions like "Do you have books by Paul Bunyan?" or "What is the best book ever?" or "Um, I have a friend who is wondering if you have any books about how to meet girls." What's always so exciting is to see hundreds and thousands of college students with armfuls of IVP books. Urbana delegates are some of the most motivated, activist, missional, globally minded Christians, and it's fun to see them recommending books to one another and hear them talk about how certain books have changed their lives.

New this year is that we're having author signings in the bookstore and author interviews at our morning bookstore team meetings. Yesterday we heard from Julie Clawson, author of Everyday Justice, and this morning we chatted with Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor, authors of Global Mission Handbook. So far we've had signings with Scott Bessenecker (How to Inherit the Earth), Andy Marin (Love Is an Orientation), and we just had huge crowds for Shane Claiborne (Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers) and John Perkins (Welcoming Justice).

One of the featured books of the day is James Choung's True Story, and as they were making the book plug from the platform, James overheard a student telling her friend, "I reconverted to Christianity because of that book!" James told her, "I wrote that book!" And I was encouraged to hear that this book that I had acquired and edited had been helpful to her and many others in their spiritual journeys. Much of my work is with manuscripts and Word docs as books are being developed, so it's fun to come to conventions like these and see how our books are changing the lives of real readers.


Unknown said...

I love the jacket cover of your book. I am working on my own suburban manuscript and have enjoyed reading your work. On one hand I feel so blessed to live in the suburbs of Chicago, or as you call it, the land of plenty. On the other hand I don't think that I have ever felt so alone and unsuccessful. I'm trying to make sense of the disparity.

Warm Regards,

Denise Burks


Jeff and Kristin said...

Hey Al,

Just found your blog through David Fitch's (my pastor) blog www.reclaimingthemission.com. Just wanted to say hello.

Jeff Andrews
Former Augie IV student under Dan Stirratt