I would like to share a little bit about my new branch of ministry I’m serving in this year. It’s called IFC, short for International Friendship Connection. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a group specially tailored for international students on campus at my university. The big kick-off is the hay ride at a farm 10 minutes north of town. Instead of a weekly meeting like Salt, there is Fusion once a month that coincides with FISH dinner (Friday International Student Hospitality) at another local church, and instead of connection groups on campus and in apartments, there is family group each week at somebody’s house (generally a married couple opens their home). Additionally, there’s English club and conversation partners.
Sounds like quite the list, huh? It is. I tend to jump into things with two feet, so I am currently helping plan lessons for English club, attending family group, part of the drama team for Fusion, and going to leader meetings with some amazing women who are like-minded and involved in the same ministry.
So far what I have learned is that more people need to get involved. IFC is a magnet for people like me who tend to do too much, but I am slowly getting better at saying yes or no to things. I am NOT leading English club this semester. They wanted me to, and I declined, although I don’t mind coming up with lessons (it’s good practice for my major), and I did a little plug for it at the IFC leader meeting. For the hayride I helped put up flyers in certain buildings on campus, invited people, and signed up to help set up and serve food at the event. To be honest, I was a little nervous about the event itself because I’m not overly fond of large crowds, but I love serving food and just serving others. The weekend really tested that in me because I ended up helping clean-up too, for a grand total of 11 hours over labor day weekend. I was utterly exhausted and behind in homework.
On top of this, I had 1 meeting and 2 rehearsals for the drama skit, and was in charge of figuring out a video for it. I got that worked out (thank God for google earth), and had no problem memorizing a few lines. Again, I love doing drama and I’m happy to help. Then I was called to be early to fusion to help set up, and at that point I was feeling stressed. My schedule was really tight, so I barely made it on time, and we hadn’t had a chance to do a tech check for the video so I spent some time assuring drama mates that it would be all right, meanwhile praying that it would be so. It was 🙂
Fusion went well, but I was simply tired. I wondered if this is how the entire year would be. I was thinking about going home. Finally, sitting down for snacks, I met two women who were sitting with Ashley, one of my family group leaders, and she said the two were to join our group. I got to know them a little bit, and I think Ashley went off to do something, but we were sitting there and I was telling them what family group was like since they asked and then one of them, out of nowhere asks, “Why do you believe in God?”
I. Was. Floored.
What followed was a genuine conversation. Suddenly, I wasn’t tired anymore. I found myself genuinely sharing many things about my relationship with God, and how He has revealed himself to me in my life. We sat there talking for over an hour and were nearly the last to leave. How AWESOME that these two women were so curious, so eager to hear about God!
I went to my car, giddy with sharing. THIS is why I wanted to do IFC in the first place- many internationals are ready to hear about God, but have no one to tell them.
Last night was the first family group, and it went really well. I brought a salad (forgetting that many internationals have no concept of salads) and came armed with an icebreaker game as was requested of me. That’s another thing- you absolutely have to contribute in order to be a part of family group. They really need you, even if you’re not technically leading the group. Anyway, it went really well.
I have to confess that I was glad I’m not in charge of leading it because I feel as though I’m very much a young one at international ministry. My teacher and international tutoring skills definitely paid off, and I was glad to be helping with something that I feel God has made me for. We made a list of questions about God they had, and we’ll be working through it this semester. It was so sweet to see all the kinds of questions they had while knowing that we didn’t have to have all of the answers instantly- we will get there together.
In leader connection group on Sunday, we talked about how answered prayer is sometimes the most obvious example of God working in our lives that internationals can see. We prayed and took prayer requests at family group, and I was compelled to be transparent and share how I’m praying for my father’s job situation and his badly broken toe. It was strange, but I was suddenly overwhelmed with compassion for my dad. I just kept thinking, maybe God will answer it, not only so my daddy is reminded of God’s love, but so that God may be glorified in the internationals seeing it answered. I guess I had almost resigned myself to that situation being the way it was, but I don’t think that’s what God calls us to do.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7
Oh, the things I forget or settle for in this life sometimes. Anyway, I am excited to see what else God has planned this year, and how He will continue to amaze and inspire me in all things. Hope you all are having a great week!