The Vision Conference is a 5-day journey for international college students and their American friends, hosted by Bridges International. We gather daily for energetic meetings with live music and engaging speakers to investigate life’s deepest questions. Together, with the Bible as our guide, we will explore what it means to Belong in relationship with God and other people. We will also discover a new American city through touring and fun activities. Vision is a great place to make new friends and deepen current friendships. Join us in Austin, Texas from December 28, 2015 – January 1, 2016! Check out the teaser video (left) for this year and an informational overview video about Vision (right).
During the conference you’ll hear from great speakers to help you think, learn, and grow. We choose the speakers carefully to make sure you’ll enjoy the experience. Take a look at this year’s speaker.
Main SpeakerAndy Atkins was the national director of Agapé UK for 5 years and is now the Agapé StudentLife leader in Cambridge, England. He has done graduate studies at Ridley Hall at Cambridge University. He and his wife Tiff have four beautiful daughters and a son who just got married. Andy has lived in the UK and Russia. He travels around the world speaking to university students.
The main sessions of the conference will be filled with worship music from a live band. The songs that we will learn and sing together have deep meaning and timeless truths.
Worship LeaderClayton Ring is a singer/songwriter based in Austin, TX. Taking inspiration from his late grandfather, a country western recording artist, Clayton started writing and performing at the age of 16. His uplifting lyrics, matched with a soulful blend of folk and acoustic-based americana, has appealed to listeners all of the world. Clayton serves as a worship leader at his local church and continues to perform internationally with the Austin Sound Exchange.
Here’s a basic schedule of the conference. You’ll experience a good mix of content, tourism, and free time to connect with friends.
Seminars give you the chance to learn more about things you’re interested in. We always have a great variety of topics to choose from. Check out our topics, descriptions, and presenters below!
Understanding the Three Great Branches of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant
Does the vast array of Christians groups mystify you? Do the differences between Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals and Anglicans bewilder you? Come and gain insight into the beliefs that all Christians share in common and discover areas in which they differ.
Presenter: Kevin Niemann, M.A., Covenant Theological Seminary
Faith in the Workplace
Have you wondered if following Jesus is possible in the marketplace? How does your faith shape your future in academics or industry? Come learn from an international panel of leaders who are following Christ and excelling in their professions.
Presenters: Dan Purvis, Founder/CEO of Velentium; Dr. Eric Howard, Founder/CEO of Opsci; Ed Wu, Founder/CEO of Premier Education Partners
Family Relationships: Developing Healthy Habits with Parents
Family is very important to Chinese people. We know our parents love us, and we love them too! But, there are times we feel hurt and disappointed by our family – whether or not they intend. Understand your family dynamic and relationship patterns. Learn how to honor and enjoy your family relationships in a healthy way.
Agnes Wang, M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary
Agnes Wang, M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary
If God... Why Evil?
Everyone has faced or will face tragedy or suffering in their own lives and the lives of people they love, and we know there are evil people in the world who do horrendous things. Why would God allow such a thing? Surely an all-loving God would put a stop to the evil in the world! Come hear why followers of Jesus believe the existence of moral evil is not only compatible with the Biblical God, but, in fact, is evidence for His existence!
Presenter: Ben Buehler, Bridges Staff – Ball State University
Is Jesus God?
Is Jesus God? This is a bold claim that Christians throughout history believed to be true. In this seminar we will examine the claim that Jesus is God from both a historical and Biblical perspective.
Presenter: Jordan Merkle, Bridges Team Leader – Denver
Marriage and Dating: What's Friendship Got to Do With It?
Finding a spouse and developing a good marriage is exciting, but cultural habits, family expectations, and personal history can make it challenging. What can we learn about dating and marriage from the Bible and recent research, and what does friendship have to do with it? Whether you’re single and ready to mingle, engaged or married, or just happily content, join us for a conversation about everyone’s favorite topic!
Presenters: Kerby and Meagin Goff, Bridges Team Leaders – Austin
Problems with People? Learning Biblical Principles for Solving Conflicts and Restoring Peace
Family, roommates, and friends are some of the best things in life, however there will be times when we have problems with each other and need to work through them. The Bible has some helpful insight and wisdom about what to do. Come learn what creates conflict between people, practice helpful communication skills, and role play different ways to solve a simple conflict.
Presenter: Jane Fox, Approved Mediator, State of Kansas
Science, Faith & Belief in God? Can You Have both? Do They Work Together in the Modern World?
The modern university teaches students that science in many ways excludes or eliminates religious belief. Come hear a world-renowned scientist speak about some of the issues of science and belief in God. Many well known scientists in history had a strong belief in God and for good reasons. Dr. Marks’ seminar will address this and how science and faith really can work together.
Presenter: Dr. Robert J. Marks II, Distinguished Professor, Baylor University
Exploring a Mystery... What Do Companies Look for in New Employees?
Have you wondered what a business will look for when hiring new employees? How do you present yourself to the best advantage? Let’s pull back the curtain and discuss the answers to these and other questions about the process of finding a job and getting a position offer!
Presenter: Tom C. Harrison, Region Human Resources Manager – Europe, Exxon Mobil Corporation
God's Plan for Justice
In the Bible, God says a lot about the problem of injustice in the world. Come learn about God’s plan for justice, and how we can apply these principles to the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Presenter: Lizzy Ganssle, Bridges & IJM Staff – Boston
Returnee Expectations: Obstacles and Opportunities at Home
Reverse culture shock can make going home a very uncomfortable transition. Family and friends may not relate to your experience. You may face unique challenges at work. You may have a different spiritual environment than in America. Whether for short or long term, how do you thrive – and not just survive – when you return home?
Presenter: Agnes Wang, M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary
适应了美国的文化再次回到自己的文化中会让你回到家乡后有一个很难的过渡期，家人和朋友可能 不会对我们的经历感同身受，你也许在工作中会面临很特殊的挑战，也许你的属灵氛围和在美国相比也特别不一样。无论是短期或是长期，当你回到家乡，你怎么过 一个丰盛的人生而不仅仅只是活着？
Presenter: Agnes Wang, M.A., Reformed Theological Seminary
What does it look like to trust God in difficult seasons of life? How do I trust Him with the things that matter most to me? And how can I know that His best is truly better than my version of best? Come learn about trusting God in the midst of unmet desires and present disappointment.
Presenter: Ana Schrader, Bridges Staff – University of Illinois
Understanding Christian Theism
Who is God according to Christianity, and why should I believe in him? We’ll explore the character of God and why Christian theism makes sense of the world in which we live.
Presenter: Davy Chu, M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary
'Some Leaders are Born Women' - A Conversation on Women in Leadership
Sixty percent of the world’s university graduates are women, and women lead at all levels, up to the highest. The chancellor of Germany, the head of the IMF, and the CEO’s of IBM and Lockheed Martin are all women. Still, there have been unique challenges and persistent obstacles to women as they pursue opportunities in business, education, and the social sector. Join us to hear one woman’s story about the challenges she’s faced and the lessons she’s learned in the process.
Presenter: Paula Wendling, CPA, Managing Member of Flieller, Kruger, Skelton & Plyler, PLLC
The secret is out. Everyone who visits Austin these days leaves with something great to say. They can’t stop talking about the legendary live music, burgeoning restaurant scene and unique culture. And a list of other things that you just have to experience for yourself to truly understand what makes Austin so Austin. The rest of the country has already taken notice. And it’s time you did, too. Find out more at the official Austin Tourism Website
On December 31 you will have some unique opportunities to take some special tours. Check out your options below!
Option 1: Austin’s Historical and Cultural Attractions
Come see why Texans are so proud of their state through touring the Texas Capitol building (taller than the U.S. Capitol in DC!), UT Austin’s gorgeous campus, and the Texas State History Museum just north of the hotel. Not to mention, you’ll love viewing the historic architecture along your route.
Where: Texas State History Museum, State Capitol, University of Texas at Austin
Duration: 1+ hours, depending on your group’s preference
Transportation: Walking, beginning 15 minutes north of the hotel
Cost: Capitol and UT Austin are free, museum admissions vary in price
Registration: No registration necessary.
***Make reservations in advance for Capitol tours greater than 10 people through the Texas State Capitol website
Option 2: Inner Space Cavern Adventure
Explore an ancient, beautifully preserved cave just outside of Austin! Rediscovered in 1963, the Inner Space Cavern has since been known for housing the skeletons of various Ice-Age animals and offering exciting tours for people of all ages. We’ll be following a lighted path through various rooms of the cavern, discovering cave paintings and admiring the details of creation. You won’t regret including this prehistoric piece of Texas history in your touring schedule for the day!
Where: Inner Space Cavern, Georgetown, TX: innerspacecavern.com
Duration: Tours last around 1 hour, plan for a total of 2.5-3 hours with travel
Transportation: Buses will leave Austin at 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:00pm. Return trips will also depart every 30 minutes starting at 3:00.
Registration: Online signup and pre-payment is required. Click here. Space is limited, so first come, first serve!
***Wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes. The cave is warm and humid, so wear appropriate clothing, and if you have asthma or another medical condition, consider carefully if this tour is right for you. No food, drink, candy, gum, backpacks, wheelchairs, strollers, or tripods allowed in the cave.
Option 3: “Keep Bridges Weird” Photo Hunt
Feeling ready for some friendly competition? Follow our map to encounter some of Austin’s most famous (and strange!) tourist attractions in and around South Congress. Your group will experience the vintage art, uncommon shops, and unique food that make Austin “weird” and enjoy the chance to submit your photos for fabulous prizes!
Where: South Congress, Austin, TX
Duration: 1.5 hours or more, depending on your group’s preference
Transportation: Walking tour, just south of the hotel
Registration: No registration necessary. Click here for an electronic map to help you find all the interesting locations, and don’t forget to submit photos to #KeepBridgesWeird. If you have a red lanyard you can submit photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
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