Word from the President—Dr. Yaw Perbi
“Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him [his grandchildren] to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:18-19, NIV
The number of wedding invitations I have received from our international alumni within and outside of Canada this year alone has been astounding. Literally from coast to coast in Canada, Preeti from India ties the knot in Kamloops, British Columbia while Animah from Ghana is getting married in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Meanwhile, across the globe, Manuel from Mexico says “I do” this spring in Latin America while my favourite French girl, Julie, does same in Europe over the summer! And these are but a few of our international students and alumni getting married these days, not to mention those bearing children of their own.
This exciting phenomenon has made me begin to think a bit differently about the breadth, depth and length of the impact of the mission of ISMC. Quite often when we fondly speak of the work of ISMC to empower international students to impact the world through Jesus Christ, the tendency is to think broadly in terms of nations. These marriage and child-bearing scenarios, however, are a pleasant yet stark reminder that this work also deeply affects generations. This is wide and deep impact.
Cyrus and Abigail in London, Ontario come to mind. Both came to know the Lord in Canada. The last time I saw them, they had both returned from China where they had led both sets of parents to the Lord. Guess what? They got married last year and just had a beautiful baby. How profound is the chain reaction in reaching an international student for Christ? Not just international but intergenerational!
I think of our ministry in Edmonton, which typically has some two to three hundred people out every Friday with an intergenerational FOCUS comprising students/scholars, a class for their children and another one for grandparents. Speak of generational impact! Right there you have three generations—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, if you like—being impacted with the Gospel.
Indeed when God called Abraham he saw beyond an individual. In Abraham he saw a nation (Israel), then all nations and several generations. When God gave Abraham the mandate of blessing the nations (Genesis 12:1-3), he also had in mind how this calling will trickle down to the generations of his children and grandchildren (Genesis 18:18-19). So must we see beyond one international student/scholars to nations and several generations touched and transformed.
Some of this year’s weddings, I’m glad I can attend; for others, I regrettably cannot; but for all of them, I rejoice in the Lord and encourage you to do same, rejoice! For as we all sow into this ministry with Christ’s love—from time, energy and expertise to prayers and finances—may we be greatly inspired that the students/scholars we empower today with hospitality and friendship, discipleship and leadership, end up not just possessing the gates of nations but even altering genes of generations for Jesus Christ! Not to speak of the ethereal and eternal impact. Who won’t say “yes” and “amen” to such a call?!
Sharing from Alex Akrofi Yeboah, City Representative, ISMC St. John’s,
ISMC’s vision is to empower international students to impact the world through Jesus Christ. We do this through discipleship workshops, internship programs, and leadership seminars. Our purpose is to see international students equipped with godly leadership skills so they can make a godly impact wherever the Lord leads after their journey in Canada.
A recent leadership seminar, Raising Emerging Leaders for Global Impact, was organized by Memorial University’s FOCUS Club. It provided an environment where international students could be inspired, equipped, and connected with influential leaders to spark ethical and positive leadership at home, in the workplace, and in their communities. About 35 students from twelve countries attended.
During the seminar, ISMC President, Dr. Yaw Perbi, described a leader as an individual who inspires and influences people towards achieving a particular goal. He encouraged international students to aspire to their potential so they could make meaningful and positive contributions in their fields of endeavour.
Seminar participants were invited to join the FOCUS Club. Through the club’s weekly Bible studies and social activities, students can explore the Christian faith, develop Bible based leadership skills, and grow to become godly leaders who will impact the world. Imagine how the world would be if these students became fully devoted followers of Jesus, ministering to those God placed in their lives, be it in Canada or their home country.
Sharing from Ron and Sherry Krestinski, City Lead, ISMC Abbotsford
Life in a foreign country far from home and family is a huge struggle for international students. Faced with loneliness and homesickness, many of these young individuals desperately long for strong friendships and a home away from home. This opens a wide door of opportunity for Christians to reach these internationals.
Jesus calls us to welcome foreigners and share His love. This has been an essential focus for our ministry at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. We aim to love international students, be part of their life and family in Canada, and minister to them through friendship and Christian lifestyle.
Recently, two Chinese students Mike* and Eva* from our U-Talk English conversation club asked us to help them plan a Canadian Christian wedding. “And would you stand up for us as witnesses?” While that was a high honor, we were especially excited for the opportunity to share the Christian faith.
At the wedding, we gave them what we consider our greatest gift of love—the Bible. It was a moment we will never forget. Mike, a Chinese Muslim, deeply touched by our love, became open to learn about God’s love and guidance in their marriage. Eva is eager to understand more about the Bible and attends church with us regularly.
Five days after the wedding, Mike went back to China to work and Eva stayed in Abbotsford to continue her studies at UFV. They will reunite this summer and start life together in Canada. We look forward to deepening our friendship with them.
Please pray for their salvation.
Testimony of Alex Li, former international student in Edmonton
When I was in university, studying English was intensive. I learned Bible stories by reading English literature, but looked at them as part of English culture, not as a set of beliefs. And yes, I celebrated Christmas, but did not think beyond the gift giving. God tried to speak to me, but I did not open my heart to listen.
On my first weekend in Canada, I went to a church alone. I was curious and desired to be immersed in the language and culture. I met friends there and was invited to join activities in the church.
As I read the Bible more often, it was sometimes a storybook, especially the New Testament. Today, if someone asks which Bible story I like to share, I mention Zacchaeus, the tax collector who had to climb a tree to see Jesus. His story stirred me—why was he so anxious to see Jesus? Was He a light and flame in his life? I asked myself, where is the flame in my life? Do I have one hidden in my heart? I had no answer.
For me, the Bible also served as a counselling book, giving me comfort because it reminded me to focus regularly on love and goodness so negative thoughts would not darken my mind. Even today, the happiness and peace I receive from the Bible keeps me reading it.
I was still outside the door. Because I did not even realize there was a door I should enter, there was no difference in my spiritual life.
I started attending church regularly on Sundays, and studied the Bible at the International Christian Fellowship. My understanding of the Bible began to change and God’s plan and purpose became clear. I saw that He loved me and wanted me to experience peace and an eternal fulfilling life. But I knew I was a sinner.
I learned that every problem in my life came from my sin and that God gave me a will and freedom to choose. One choice was to take the bridge to God—Jesus Christ. I was told He died for me and paid the penalty for my sin, bridging the gap between God and me. It was for me His blood flowed from His body, so my sins could be cleansed. The gift, I was told, was there if I wanted to take take it. The price had already been paid for me.
My Bible teachers told me that to accept this precious gift, a simple prayer to accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour was enough. But I was doubtful. Is it really that simple?
My doubts persisted until one class when we talked about Jesus and the criminals who were crucified beside Him. It became plain it is never too late to be saved. The criminal who confessed he was a sinner said, “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.” Then he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. That was his way of accepting Him. Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23).
The answer was sure and free of doubt. I was convinced that just by saying a simple prayer and accepting Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I would be saved. One night, I said such a prayer to confess my sins and accept Him as Saviour. I felt nothing holding me back and I accepted God’s free gift!
I have since publicly declared my faith in Jesus Christ through baptism and I seek to embrace this new life by saying no to sin and yes to my Savior. Getting baptized was a special day because I was letting everyone know I will continue to live for my Savior.
I thank the Lord for everyone He used on my journey to Him!
Sharing from Rhonda Berkhiem, Lead Pastor, Life Design Foursquare Church
In January 2016, the Life Design Foursquare Church sensed the Lord calling us to transition to a house church model of ministry with a focus on hospitality and community building. After much deliberation, we stopped renting a school gym and packed ourselves into the living room of my condo. For the next two months we prayed for direction. At our mid-March AGM, we came to an agreement on the ministry’s vision and mission. The next day we received an offer to rent what we now call Life Design House, just blocks from the Douglas College campus in New Westminster, BC.
We moved into the house in May and started a weekly community supper in June as a way to meet neighbors and explore what biblical hospitality could look like in our modern-day context. In July, I met Edward Hum, ISMC’s FOCUS Club director at Douglas College. I discovered we share a vision of building community through hospitality and love. This led to a wonderful partnership which has brought a new dynamic to our church community and the Douglas College FOCUS Club.
Life Design House has become a community hub for college students and alumni, neighbors, and our church. We host weekly community suppers, life groups, and prayer nights. We have also hosted cooking exchanges, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas Eve dinners with a candlelight service, as well as games/karaoke nights.
Since opening our front door six months ago, we have seen amazing things happen through salvation decisions, baptisms, and many divine appointments! Jesus has been teaching us how much can be accomplished together for His kingdom by simply allowing the power of His love to flow through us as a community. We are thankful for our partnership with Edward and the FOCUS family and look forward to all God has for us in 2017!
Published on the February 2017 issue of Doorways
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