“As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.”—2 Corinthians 9:13 (NLT)
When I think of this verse, I am reminded of the countless volunteers who continue to bless the mission of International Students, Inc. Their incredible generosity not only bridges the gaps between cultures, it furthers the Good News of Jesus Christ!
To honor the more than 24,000 volunteers who selflessly give of themselves to help International Students, Inc., I have been sharing with you a series of blogs to highlight some of their stories.
The following story—our third in the series—features Hope, who lives in Indiana. For more than 20 years, Hope has been reaching out to and helping our students. We’re sure you’ll enjoy her story as much as we do!
Hope, who lives in Indiana with her husband, may be retired, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped working. Hope has been volunteering with International Students, Inc., for more than 20 years. She leads a Sunday morning Bible study during the Sunday School hour at her church. During the week, she holds another Bible study. And when she’s not teaching, Hope runs a furniture ministry; she helps international students be able to furnish their new homes in the US.
“The furniture ministry is just a door that God opened,” she said. “Somebody asked us after we moved into our house: ‘Do you know anybody I could borrow a mattress from?’”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Requests for furniture have been pouring in ever since.
“They would ask for various pieces of furniture,” she said of international students. “And if we didn’t have it, we would put it in the church bulletin. Now it’s to the point where our church family—and some other churches, or even professors from the university—if they get new furniture, they give the old ones to us.”
Several people donate their time and vehicles to help transport the furniture items to the homes of international students. When the students leave the university, they typically return the furniture so that incoming students may use it.
Hope now gets emails from students in several different countries requesting furniture before they even arrive in the US.
Her church and husband “are very supportive.” In addition to people helping load and transport the furniture, a volunteer helps Hope keep the garage full of furniture in order.
Hope enjoys helping others through the furniture ministry and through the Bible studies she leads. The best part about volunteering with International Students, Inc., she said, is that it provides her with a platform to share her faith—even more. For most of the students she works with, it’s the first time they’ve heard the Gospel.
“I enjoy sharing God with them,” she said. She loves seeing “when one of them puts their trust in Jesus.”
Hope has developed many relationships over the years with the international students with whom she interacts. One of the most “joyful” relationships, she said, was with a Chinese student.
“I learned that she went to an American, Evangelical church. She was going to a Bible study there,” Hope said. “I contacted her and we met. I gave her a Chinese/English Bible. She was so excited. She seemed more excited than anybody I’ve ever given one to. She said it was, ‘wonderful,’ because when she attended her Bible studies, she could read Scripture in Chinese and understand it.”
Hope is blessed by the students she meets.
“I learn with them,” she said. “Every Sunday morning I say, ‘We learn from you and you learn from us.’ It’s growing me in my walk.”
To those thinking about volunteering with ISI, Hope says it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
“You can include them in your family and activities,” she said. “If your family is going on a picnic, take them on a picnic. It doesn’t take a lot of money and it doesn’t take a lot of time. When they need a friend, be there.”
Here at ISI, we don’t pressure or try to “convert” anyone. We simply allow the Holy Spirit to work as we share our lives, homes and friendship with international students. When students respond to unconditional love and hospitality, they may choose to hear more about the Truth and ask to learn more about Jesus. We then gladly and graciously invite them to church, a Bible study or offer mentorship as they explore more about the Lord.
For information on how to volunteer with ISI!