“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT).
It’s no secret that today’s best and brightest travel great distances seeking truth, wisdom and knowledge. Many of them even become influential world leaders. And because of God’s unfailing love for us and the dedication of my International Students, Inc. colleagues and volunteers, many of these international students continue finding far more than they expected.
What I am talking about here surpasses the quest for knowledge or world-class pedagogy. I am referring to the inimitable encounter with the Son of God.
Last year, with the help of more than 23,000 volunteers and a staff of 380-plus, our ISI team members initiated relationships with nearly 70,000 international students, with over 9,200 decisions for Christ.
One of our staff members shared with us an incredible salvation story that occurred after three years of ministering to one particular student. I want to share this beautiful testimony as a reminder that sometimes it can take time, a long time, for people to come to know Jesus as their Lord. But, every interaction with an international student is an opportunity to plant seeds of hope in the lives of these future leaders!
This staff member writes:
“We count it as precious every student who comes to salvation during his or her time with us, but if we had to pick one whose salvation stands out, we might choose Erica. The process took about three years, and if you wonder why it took so long, I’d have to point to the many hurts Erica had suffered at the hands of ‘friends.’ She no longer believed people anymore. It took time to win her trust, but once she got there, the transformation seemed instantaneous! Today, in Japan, Erica gives back by sacrificially loving those who aren’t always easy to love or relate to—the youth who attend the Sunday school classes she teaches at her church each week. Because of Erica’s investment and commitment, kids are giving their lives to Jesus! Every Christmas we receive a card from Erica with these special words: ‘Thank you. If it wasn’t for you and ICF, I never would have come to know the Lord.’ Those years of investments paid off! Erica serves as a stellar example of why we do what we do. Not only did she overcome great obstacles to accept salvation, but she has returned home to live out her own ministry calling in Japan.”
Friend, the fruits of your labor, no matter how insignificant they may seem in your eyes, can be monumental in the lives of the students we are blessed to serve! Their first glimpse of Him and His compassion is the unusually genuine smile and handshake of an International Students, Inc. family member. They begin to hear Him in that person’s warm voice asking if they need help, or have anywhere to hang out that Friday night. Along the way, that voice will complete the introduction by sharing the truth about Jesus Christ.
In closing, I want to leave you with a passage from Ecclesiastes reminding us about His sovereignty in our lives even when we are not able to fully see it in the moment: “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has placed eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end,” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT).
For More Information
Learn more about reaching out to international students.