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Asian Students Seek Unity in Christ

Every three years InterVarsity Christian Fellowship sponsors the Urbana Conference, a gathering that challenges university students to get involved in world evangelization. About 16,000 students from around the world attended the 2009 conference.

After the main session each evening, students would leave the larger conference auditorium to meet in smaller groups for prayer and reflection. In one of the banquet halls, there was a small group comprised of Chinese students, another group of Taiwanese students, and another group of students from Hong Kong. Large dividers stood between the three. These walls were important, because historically these three peoples have "harbored bitterness and animosity toward one another." They felt it was best to pray and worship each with their own people.

But as the Chinese students were praying one night, they told their leader they wanted to invite the other countries to join them. When the Taiwanese students received the invitation, they prayed and sang a little while, and then they opened up the wall divider. It wasn't too much longer before the students from Hong Kong pulled back their divider, and some 80 students mingled together.

"In Christ, we are all one family," said one leader. "And [Christ] breaks down political boundaries. In Christ, we have the desire to make the first steps to connect."

The Taiwanese students asked the students from China and Hong Kong to lead them in worship. The next night, they invited the Korean and Japanese groups to join them, nations which also had experienced fierce animosity. The leader told them, "We are living out what we have learned this week in John: This is 'God with us.'" One girl from China said, "It was a really moving time. This kind of thing would not happen in another situation."

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