By Rachel Tidwell
Jono was hanging around the outskirts of the Wycliffe booth at Urbana ‘09*, and I honestly remember thinking that he didn’t look that interested in stopping to talk about Bible translation. Regardless, I decided to try to pull him in and engage him. As I began the conversation, I quickly learned that he was an aviation management major in college, and was attending Urbana trying to figure out if there was ANY way that he could use that degree in missions. As he was walking around the exhibit hall, numerous exhibitors kept pointing him to Wycliffe, an organization he had really never heard about. He decided to drop by our exhibit.
I told him about JAARS, one of the Wycliffe partner organizations that provides technical support services, including aviation. I slowly watched his demeanor change from skeptical to animated. I shared how JAARS is an integral part of the bigger picture of Wycliffe and our heart for languages and Bible translation, and he practically beamed with excitement.
He interrupted me and said, “You are never going to believe this. I speak six languages and have a genuine love for learning languages. It comes pretty easily to me AND my mom is a translator at our home church in Aruba, so I totally get what you are saying about heart languages!” We were both floored at the connection. He went on to share that the night before he stopped by the Wycliffe booth, he was talking to his roommate and feeling pretty dejected. He said that he had been convinced that missions was what he was called to but he didn’t think that aviation management could be used in missions. He was preparing himself for the fact that he might have to tell his parents that all the money they put into his education was a waste, because he wasn’t going to be able to use that degree on the mission field where God was calling him. Jono became really excited when another colleague and I shared about aviation opportunities with Wycliffe.
As we continued to talk about where God might be leading him, he became pretty convinced that Wycliffe is the answer. I asked him where he went to school, only to be amazed again at the connections God continued to make between Jono and our ministry. As a student at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla., he is close enough to our Orlando offices that he’ll be able to come visit and check out aviation opportunities and Bible translation. Jono is not only majoring in aviation management, but also taking courses in music, and he seemed interested in the idea of ethnomusicology, the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts, and how Wycliffe believes in reaching people with the Gospel through multiple forms of culture.
My conversation with Jono gave me goose bumps and my new friend literally jumped with excitement. It was clear that the Holy Spirit was present in our conversation and as we prayed together before he walked away, I was reminded of something: Jono left our booth with a clarity he did not have when he came and I know that isn’t due to anything I said or did, but simply because God is moving here at Urbana.
God is calling students to Him and revealing plans for them that He has already prepared. Wycliffe is excited to be a part of Urbana this year.
URBANA is the 22nd student missions conference presented by Intervarsity Fellowship, drawing students from across North America and Europe to St. Louis this week. For more information on Wycliffe’s participation at the event, visit http://facebook.com/WycliffeURBANA09.
To read another Wycliffe team member’s account of his time at URBANA, click here.