It is undoubtedly one of my favorite days of the year. Every August our church invites all new international students to come chose from a variety of household goods and furniture to set up their new American homes.
Since this is our eleventh year reaching out to students in this way, we have learned a lot about organizing and working together. There was a spirit of calm and joy amongst the workers, which included several church members and many from nearby churches. At the staff meeting beforehand, our youth pastor set the tone for the day. He encouraged us to keep our eyes on Jesus and the Gospel. If we keep our eyes on Him and what He’s done for us, it’s hard to be afraid of or intimidated by people. By 1:30 the auditorium was packed, 213 students in all, with several students left standing. There were 23 countries represented:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
I met people from Sudan, Romania, China, Taiwan, Togo, and Eritrea. A Romania girl seemed flustered as she waited for her ride home. When I asked if I could help her, she said she wanted to say thank you to everyone, but she didn’t know how she could do so. Several students were speechless, never having witnessed something like this before.
We are not doing this because we are nice people. God has given so much to us, so we are thrilled to share God’s blessings with others. It’s all about God working through us, and we pray that He shines through, so they see Him, not us!
Students are given the opportunity to sign up for English classes, conversational English partners, Bible studies, and they can request transportation to church services and activities. Following the Giveaway, our assistant pastor informed us that 142 students requested a conversational English partner. The Giveaway is just the beginning, and we rely on God to provide time and energy for our church members to develop friendships with all of the students opening their hearts to us.
It is so exciting to see students who were new to our church a year or two ago now welcoming new students. One of our Campus Bible Fellowship missionaries now has the privilege to minister to the second generation, children of students she worked with years ago.
One woman took me aside and confided, “I bought a Bible.” After she described it, with her eyes sparkling, I gave her my name and told her that I would love to be her conversational English partner. I am so looking forward to getting to know this beautiful young woman, as well as others I met today.