International Student Ministry Testimony
(Some thoughts by Cathy Ballew)
Become a friend to a foreign student and Christ can ignite a spark in their world!
Right now, I am not able to be a missionary overseas. But I can be a friend to a student here in my own city and perhaps touch their lives with Christ’s love, therefore igniting the domino effect in that student’s life as he/she lives here or goes back to their home country. These students are coming to our cities! They are coming to our schools! They desire to have an “American Friendship Partner”. The least I can do is be their friend.
God is sending many of these countries’ brightest and most hopeful leaders of the future to our universities to learn. What will they learn about us as Americans? What will they see? Will they see that we were too busy to take time for them? Will they see that we didn’t care? Will we show them His love? At a point in their lives when they are very vulnerable, (in a foreign land away from their families and friends), They are more open to learning new things and perhaps hearing the gospel for the first time.
How can you help? You can touch one life at a time for Christ by being a friend to an international student. You can take Christ to the “nations” by showing His love to one student. You may not speak their language or understand their culture. You may not know exactly what to do or say when you meet them for the first time. But they will know that you care about them and that you took the time to be their friend.
When I met Hongping Pan from China for the first time, her English was hard to understand. I didn’t speak her language and we were just trying to find things we could talk about and both understand. She told me she was married and that her daughter was 2 years old and back in China with her grandparents and father while she studied in America. I thought I misunderstood her at first. Her little girl (2 years old) back in China while she was here? She showed me a picture of her daughter and I showed her one of my son, who was the same age at that time. “Oh, how hard that must be to be so far away from her!” I said. And her tears began to fall as did mine. I don’t know if she understood my words, but she understood my tears. We were her friendship partners for several years and were able to get to know her whole family. We still keep in contact with her through the internet and she even took my CD for Mothers (Builders of His Kingdom) back to China. Her sister, who worked for a radio station there hoped to play some of the songs on the station.
Since 2000, we have had friends from China, Taiwan, and Africa. I have been blessed immensely by participating in the international student ministry at UTD. I have learned so much about other cultures, languages, and traditions. These students love being a part of a family when they are here without their own. They enjoy being with kids, even if they are as crazy as mine. Be a friend for a semester…and you have a friend for a lifetime! To me, it is a gift straight from the hand of my loving Father who knew that I greatly desire to work in missions. He delivered the mission field to my doorstep. All I have to do is answer the door.
Thank you, Lord!