"They were completely amazed and said again and again, 'Everything He does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak," –Mark 7:37 (NLT)
Here at International Students, Inc., we have been so incredibly humbled by the more than 60 years of service from staff members and volunteers. We wanted to take some time to share with you our eventful and blessed beginnings to highlight how God has been changing hearts and minds through ISI since 1953.
Today's installment is the second story in this series. (Click here to read the first installment.):
A year after Betsy Guffey joined International Students, Inc. at its Philadelphia headquarters, the ministry made a big move—to Washington, D.C.
"It was a natural move," Betsy said of the 1954 transition. "We rented a floor of the building used by Billy Graham Films and Youth for Christ, right on Connecticut Avenue. We had a great outreach."
ISI staff developed good relationships with the military, diplomats, World Bank staff, several international organizations and local international students. The only problem with this: There was no one to coordinate all this activity.
"My roommate and I remembered that a year earlier we met Hal Guffey, a midshipman at the US Naval Academy," she said. "Hal later went to Vanderbilt in Nashville as our key contact person there."
Betsy and her roommate convinced ISI Founder Bob Finley to invite Hal to join the Washington, D.C. staff. Not only did Hal accept, the man had already trained himself for the work ahead.
"Hal showed up in an old car the next day with a couple boxes of books, a suitcase of old clothes, and no support," Betsy remembers, saying he was "ready to work." ISI staff members found him a roll-away bed. He lived in the office.
"That was convenient since all the office staff did bookkeeping and all the usual paper trail work during the daytime," Betsy said. At night and on the weekends they "metamorphosed" into field staff.
Around that time, new staff members Zulay and Sheila Hargreaves started a ministry to Latin Americans; staffers Ted and Leona Choy started one for Chinese students.
"It was a good time and a fruitful outreach for us all," Betsy said. Hal was then sent to Boston to work for ISI.
But he decided he wanted to take Betsy with him. So the couple "squeezed in a wedding" between Christmas and January 19, which was the staff conference.
"Nothing could stand in the way of staff conference," Betsy shared. "It was our favorite event of the year—kind of like Christmas when 'the family' comes home."
Before the newlyweds left for their new home in Boston, Bob told Betsy some surprising news. Because ISI didn't have any contacts in the Boston area yet, he told Betsy she would need to speak in churches, and to women's groups.
"Me?" she thought.
"I was ready to get an annulment!" she joked. "But the day that we left for Boston, in my devotions, Mark 7:37 spoke to me: 'He has done all things well. He makes even the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak!"
God miraculously provided for her and her new husband, she said. He supplied them with an apartment, a car and even an office with a secretary. God also blessed the Guffeys with "families and ministry opportunities that were amazing." But after two years, the couple was transferred back to the headquarters in D.C.
Please join us next week as we glean more insight from Betsy Guffey, regarding ISI's exciting first years. This will include ISI's move from D.C. to Colorado Springs!
For more information
Read the first installment of ISI's history series here.
(link to previous week's blog)
Read a season's greeting letter from the Guffeys.
Learn more about the History of International Students, Inc. from a 1962 brochure.
Read a letter of encouragement from previous International Students, Inc. President, Bob Finley.
Learn how to reach the world from your doorstep!