Heading to Urbana 15

Faith Today Senior Editor Karen Stiller is a big fan of the Urbana Student Missions_DSC4649 Conference. She recently blogged about why she is keen on seeing 2,500 Canadians attend the five-day conference in St. Louis, MO., this December: 

“In 1993 my husband Brent and I travelled to Urbana, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s student mission conference that happens in the snowy days between Christmas and New Year’s every three years…

“We pledged, back then, that when we had kids the right age (grade 12 and university/college), we would make sure they got there. And we have. Three years ago our oldest son made it there. And came back refreshed and challenged. This coming year, Urbana 2015, he will go again along with his younger sister, in her grade 12 year. In three years we will make the trek again with our youngest.

That’s how good it is….”

Visit the Faith Today Blog to read more about Karen’s perspective on Urbana and discover why the magazine is underwriting the cost of the conference for a student! 

Paddling a River for Ontario Pioneer

Originally posted on Ontario Pioneer Camp’s ‘On the Shores Blog’ – July 10, 2015.


On July 26, Ontario Pioneer Camp alumnus Ronn Bagge will begin a 100-mile canoe trip down the Missinaibi River between Peterbell and Mattice in Northern Ontario. Along the way, he’ll navigate 20 sets of rapids and portage 10 times. As he sets out on the trip, Ronn is issuing a challenge to other OPC Alumni – make a donation to OPC inspired by his paddling adventure. An anonymous donor has agreed to match each donation. All the funds will go to support general needs at the camp. To make your donation, click here.

At the end of the trip, Ronn will update the blog. Here are his thoughts on why he undertaking this challenge.

All aboard for OPC

In 1966, at the age of eight, I boarded a train in Chicago and set out for Ontario Pioneer Camp. The next year, my Dad and I flew in his small Cessna to the Muskoka Airport (CYQA) so I could return to OPC. I couldn’t wait to go back to Boys’ Camp and to get back in a canoe.

Ronn BaggCamp became a staple of my summers. I was a Counselor in Training (CIT) in 1973 under Cobber and learned how to lead a small group Bible Study as well as the importance of personal Quiet Time. That summer, our CIT canoe trip was led by Larry Offner, now OPC Alumni Director and a good friend.

Between 1974 and 1979 I was a camp chalet leader, learning spiritual and leadership lessons that remain with me to this day. OPC gave me skills and role models who made faith in Jesus Christ the most important thing in my life. The leaders who taught me remain role models today.

Important Lesson

While at OPC, I paddled on many canoe trips. One trip in particular stands out to me. I was 11 years old and we were paddling the Muskoka River when we ran into trouble. I still remember David Guest and I singing God is our Refuge to power us through the rough waters. I’ve carried that lesson with me ever since.

In 1998 I founded YQA Capital Management (named for the Muskoka Airport!), a Wheaton, Illinois company.

Ronn Bagge

Giving Back

This summer, I am taking time away from work to enjoy a challenging paddle and raise money for the camp that has meant so much to me through the years.

I’ll fly, once again, to the Muskoka Airport, looking down from the air on OPC, the former Bagge Farm and Port Sydney. Then I’ll start my canoe trip with the Missinaibi Headwaters Outfitters. We expect to reach Mattice by August 2.

My goal, in addition to paddling a river that drops 300 feet in elevation, is to raise funds for OPC. Gifts will honour the memory of Allan E. and Lois L. Bagge, who had the vision to first send me to Ontario Pioneer Camp.

To make a donation to the Ontario Pioneer Camp Ronn Bagge Challenge, click here.

Short-term mission a Camino pilgrimage

Written by Steve Colby, Director of Missions for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.

I can’t say I was an overwhelming blessing on my first mission trip. In fact, I can say withsteve Colby lost some certainty that I was hopeless in Spanish, susceptible to stomach problems, but completely enamored with Mexico. My habit in communicating was to nod and smile and be affirming, even if I didn’t know what was being said, or being asked. One night I discovered I had unwittingly agreed to speak to the Presbyterian women’s society on the subject of sex! We enthusiastically led children’s programs and vacation Bible schools, but carrying out simple tasks – like laundry – was beyond us. The ladies would watch us lamely try and then insist on washing clothes for us. Coming to serve, we got out served. Royally out served. What is a short term mission really? What if we stripped away our need to get something done, and focused instead on how God is discipling us through the process? What if short-term missions were really pilgrimages, the beginning of a life lived in mission?

Discipleship as a Camino

Thousands of pilgrims each year walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostelle. The walkers say the crucial thing is to pay attention to God and how He is shaping you through the experience. Many take with them a question they are wrestling with or a challenge they are facing in their day to day life. Walking with God, doing His Camino, provides a spaciousness and focus to stay present to God.

Short-term missions have been a Camino for me of my discipleship. I have walked along the Camino in the Yucatan and grown taller – literally – as I found the heavy mud added layer upon layer to the bottom of my shoes. As I’ve walked with friends in unfamiliar places and enjoyed the hospitality of new friends, God has grown my sense of gratitude and perspective to be a global Christian. Through these experiences God has also challenged me. My pride and selfishness emerge in those dissonant moments, and I find, like I do on so many hikes, that I need to repent, make a U-turn, and get on the right path again.

Keep your feet moving

The short-term mission experience should be a journey in our discipleship. If we are going only for what we can do, or what we can add or say, then we are susceptible to believing ourselves too important, too integral, as If God cannot do anything without us. Short-term mission opens our eyes to God’s work in another context: it is not about the four weeks in which we change the world. It is about the four weeks in which God’s work in the world changes us. Getting a taste of God’s global work not only changes us, it makes us long for this food always. Walking along this Camino is the beginning of our life as a mission pilgrim. The aim of the pilgrim is to keep moving towards God’s kingdom, not to put up one’s feet and pack away the memories like old photos.

My Camino in missions has led me back to Mexico many times, as well as to many other places. I became conversant in Spanish and my stomach adjusted to the food quite well, (even now my mouth waters at the thought of my host’s cooking – que sabroso!). And yet, I still find I can’t avoid confusing situations and misunderstandings (although I’m happy to say I have not been invited back to speak on sex). I still find I need to keep learning, growing, and making U-turns to get back on His right path.

(Reposted from Mission Pilgrims blog from 5/23/2015)

Interested in exploring mission opportunities for your life? Join 16,000 other curious pilgrims at Urbana 15.