Well, it is that time of the year again. Students, including many from around the world, are beginning to arrive in the Bryan-College Station community in preparation for the start of the fall 2011 school year at Texas A&M University.
Apartment complexes that have been near empty all summer are being re-populated with students, the streets are getting more congested with traffic, and the languages being heard at local grocery and retail stores are becoming more diverse. It really is exciting.
With the start of the school year, opportunity for ministry to and the sharing of Christ with students (which never ceases) begins to multiply.
There are several ways in which my wife and I are going to be involved in ministry with students as the semester begins and continues into the fall.
~ friendship and service ~
This past Sunday we helped unload furniture and household items at a local Bible church for a “giveaway” on August 20. Couches, kitchen tables, dishes, utensils, pots and pans, beds and desks that have been collected for months will be given to in-coming international students. When these students arrive in our community, one of the first things they have to do is get established in their apartments and homes. This not only means finding housing, it means filling their residences with the necessary furniture and household items required for daily living. As the students come to the church facility to pick out goods, we have the opportunity to express that love of God in very real and tangible ways – the meeting of their household needs. Relationships with students that may last for years are established at the “giveaway.” We always pray that these relationships will allow us many opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them and their families and to see many come to faith in Christ as their Savior.
This year, we will again have the opportunity to be involved in the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE) interviews that are conducted regularly on the campus of TAMU. International students who want to work as Teaching Assistants in their departments must go through the ELPE process in order to obtain employment. During the ELPE interview process, we meet many wonderful men and women from the “nations” of the world. We often are able to share our names and contact information with them, offering to serve them in any way that we can as they are getting established and settled in the community.
New international student check-in is scheduled for August 16-18 at TAMU. I have volunteered at check-in in the past and will do so again this year. These are great opportunities to serve the University as a volunteer. It is an even greater opportunity to meet and serve new students. Whether greeting students at the front desk or copying their passport and other papers, there is always an opportunity to speak a word of welcome to the students and engage them in conversation, however brief it may be.
We will volunteer at the household goods and furniture giveaway on the 2oth. On that day hundreds of new students will walk through the doors of the church facility to obtain free couches, tables, beds, dishes, cookware, and other items for the setting up of their new homes for their time of study at Texas A&M. Volunteers will assist our new friends in getting their items back to their apartments and houses, conversations will be engaged in along the way, and relationships will begin to be established. As relationships are built, the Lord eventually gives us and others the opportunity to introduce Jesus Chris to our ew friends.
~ reach students … disciple the “nations” ~
We will continue, under the banner of “International Bible Fellowship,” with our Saturday evening pot-luck meal and English Bible study times at our house. These evenings have always been a great time to fellowship around a meal, build relationships, and practice our English language reading, listening, and comprehension skills as we read and discuss portions of a simplified version of the Bible. Using the Bible as our reading text gives us the opportunity to introduce the Bible to students who may never have even seen a Bible and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. And, we always try to incorporate fun activities such as game nights and Saturday field trips to local places of interest into the life of this Saturday night group.
(Note: International Bible Fellowship (IBF) was a University recognized student organization from 1999 to 2005. We are currently in the process of re-constituting as a recognized organization.)
With respect to the Saturday night activity, this Sunday a Korean professor is going to introduce me to five new Korean families who have expressed to a Korean professor their interest in being a part of our pot-luck meal and Bible study group.
In conclusion, I am thankful to the Lord that we live in Bryan-College Station, Texas, the home of the Texas A&M University. A&M is world-class university to which the future leaders of the “nations” come to study. While the men and women of the world are in our communities, we have the opportunity to meet and serve them in the Name of Jesus Christ. We are privileged to see many of them come to faith in Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, to grow in their faith, and to commit themselves to His service.
We praise the Lord for these opportunities. Please pray that He will use us to bring glory to Himself as we reach out to, serve, and share Christ with international students this year.
If you are an international student – enrolling for your first semester at A&M or continuing your studies or research here – and there is any way that we can serve you, please contact me by leaving a comment and your contact information in the comment section of this post. I will get in touch with you as soon as I can.
~ ibf welcomes the “nations” to tamu ~