“And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it.” Matthew 24:14 (NLT)
We are so fortunate at International Students, Inc., to have so many dedicated volunteers who help carry out our mission to help spread the Good News. Across the country, there are more than 24,000 people who continually support what we do by reaching out and befriending international students in their respective communities.
To honor these incredible volunteers, I have been sharing a series of blogs that highlight some of their stories. Today’s story features Phil, a Southern California dad who says working with international students is “enriching and enjoyable.” Phil first volunteered with International Students, Inc. in the 1980s and 1990s. He returned a few years ago after a family trip reminded him of the value of interacting with other cultures.
We hope you enjoy this amazing story as much as we do!”
Phil and his family decided to make the world their classroom—literally. Five years ago, Phil and his wife, along with their two children—then in junior high—took a trip around the world. They toured 33 countries. As a home-school family, visiting other cultures and participating in numerous service projects gave new meaning to the term “hands-on learning.” It also inspired ongoing volunteer involvement with International Students, Inc.
The journey around the globe was the “catalyst,” he said, to get involved with International Students, Inc. After the family returned home, Phil and his wife began volunteering.
“We were hoping that our kids would as well, but we didn’t require it,” he said. “One and then another just committed themselves to it. I think maybe that trip around the world helped a lot. We’re really excited that exposure to other cultures now has given them an opportunity to serve.”
Both children continued volunteering through high school. The youngest, a senior in high school, still volunteers. The international students, Phil said, really enjoy interacting with high school students.
In addition to developing authentic friendships with international students, Phil and his family also support a myriad of other activities. The family belongs to a group of about 20 dedicated volunteers in the Southern California area. The group serves students who study English at an English language school on a university campus.
“We hold a weekly English conversation café, which is actually sponsored by the language school,” Phil explained. “They are very grateful that our group takes that on.”
The volunteer group also organizes monthly events, like game nights, Christmas parties and Thanksgiving dinners in their homes, and other activities.
“We also do, twice a month, a dinner-discussion evening,” Phil said. “That’s where we get a smaller group—by personal friendship invitation only—for a free meal at one of our homes.”
This sort of interaction is such a blessing to international students. Many of those who choose to study in the US never even see the inside of an American home.
Volunteering with International Students, Inc., Phil said, allows believers to live out Jesus’ calling to “make disciples of all nations.”
“I’ve seen followers of Jesus fulfill this mandate by either going overseas as a missionary, or by supporting missionaries,” he said. “Another very effective way is to reach out to them when they come to our country.”
Helping and supporting international students just takes a willingness to be a good friend, he said.
“It’s relatively easy if you have a heart for it,” Phil explained. All you’ve got to do is become an authentic friend and invite them along to the normal things that you do with your own friends. In fact, I find, more than my non-Christian American friends, the internationals tend to be more open to the truths of Christ.”
Volunteering with international students has also blessed Phil—tremendously.
“I like doing what God has called me to do,” he said. “It’s very enjoyable and enriching to make friends in other cultures—to learn from them. For [those] who respond to the Gospel, it’s also very fulfilling to see God working in their lives.”