During Christy’s first weeks at Princeton, a classmate invited him to a prayer meeting of the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship (PEF), held in a dormitory room. Donald Fullerton, an alumnus from the class of 1912, taught the PEF Bible class on Sunday afternoons and invested greatly in Christy’s life. The men in PEF recruited Christy to help distribute copies of the Gospel of John to the entire freshman class. Christy was embarrassed at first, since the recipients were his own classmates. However, he would later be grateful that he had persisted in the work. Twenty-six of his classmates were to die in World War II.
Also during his freshman year at Princeton, he was introduced to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). Stacey Woods, the first secretary-general of InterVarsity/USA, went to great lengths to share his vision for student evangelism with Christy, recognizing his Christian maturity and potential.
Launching the First Urbana Missions Conference
An influential IVCF board member had been urging Stacey to find someone from an Ivy League college to serve on staff. In September 1943, Christy became that person. He initially joined as a part-time staffer, working with InterVarsity on weekends while still a student at Princeton. During his initial years, he was responsible for visiting college campuses throughout New York and New England. His task was simply to pass along his passion for missions to college students.
In 1944 Christy attended a Student Volunteer Movement (SVM) convention in Wooster, Ohio; John R. Mott’s address left a lasting imprint on young Christy. Mott concluded his talk by saying, “Young people, to find Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord is the most important thing you can do.” Mott’s testimony and message—his heart seemingly broken over the lack of spiritual vitality in SVM— sowed seeds for a new missions conference within Christy’s mind.
Christy traveled throughout the United States and Canada for two years, planting his passion for missions within other college students. Finally, on Friday, December 27, 1946, the first IVCF missions conference began. Approximately fifty-two denominations were represented by 576 students from 151 colleges, universities, and seminaries. Long after the conference concluded on January 2, Stacey Woods noted that more than half of the participants had indeed gone to the foreign mission field (including Jim Elliot, David Howard, and Ralph Winter), with the other half actively supporting missions from home.
The triennial Urbana missions conference continues to this day. It has grown to become the largest student missions conference in the world; through it, God has challenged more than 250,000 participants with the responsibility and privilege of taking part in world missions.
Next page »