Anyele and I sharing a meal last August in Lille with Julie (from France) and her fiancée who is ori
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
Sharing from Yoori Shen, Campus Director, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
My life in Canada began as a 17-year-old student from South Korea; today, I am a fulltime ISMC staff member reaching the nations! As I look back, I see an amazing story of God’s leadership in my life as an international student.
The first step was, of course, the most important: accepting Christ as my savior while in college. I began volunteering with ISMC in 2011, was accepted as an intern student the following year, and became an associate staff member in 2013.
I am passionate about being a campus missionary—building friendships and discipling students. Having been an international student myself, I understand the struggles of newly arrived students. I will never forget being invited to a church where I was deeply moved by their love and hospitality. Knowing I am forgiven to forgive and blessed to be a blessing, changed my life. Rather than live for my own good and success, it is my desire to commit my life to God’s plan.
I met my husband David at Simon Fraser University’s FOCUS Club, where we serve. Because we live on campus, we can reach students during the week through Bible study groups and gatherings at our place.
David and I attend the New Westminster Christian Reformed Church where I serve as a pastoral elder and part of their international student fellowship leadership team.
Please pray for us and the international students we influence, that we may continue be God’s channel of love to neighbors and community.
“Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4, NIV
God put a BIG dream in our hearts: that by 2023, every international student in Canada will have the opportunity to be loved and led by ISMC or our partners. To this end, nearly four years ago we established a strategy to grow wide from 2013 to 2016 and then go deep from 2016 to 2019.
Our going wide phase meant gains in staff, cities, and multitudes of students being impacted. Our city directors and the national leadership team have identified six elements for the going deep phase.
Deeper Discipleship—this starts with our personal spiritual and emotional health as staff, and includes solid discipleship training so we can disciple our students better than we do today.
Richer Resourcing—quality support in people, technology, literature/multimedia, training and other resources to get the job of reaching the nations done well.
Conscious Consolidation—intentionality regarding significant staff engagement, healthy organizational culture, and unity nationally as well as solidification of local ministries.
Reasonable Recruitment—meaningful and strategic recruiting that results in at least one new career, one associate staff, and double the volunteers in each city over the next three years.
Serious Succession Planning—no one, no matter how well intentioned and dedicated, can serve ISMC forever, so we should be earnest and thoughtful about replacing ourselves.
Avant-garde Catalyst—that all the above will put us in good stead to be cutting edge agents who precipitate and accelerate international student ministries by envisioning, encouraging and equipping the wider body of Christ to reach the nations at their doorsteps knowing full well we cannot reap the entire harvest ourselves.
The quest for emotionally healthy leadership (through deeper discipleship, as stated above) will be a major focus of ISMC’s biennial national staff conference this summer. Jesus invites us to launch into the deep and let down our nets to catch the 400,000 international students in Canada for Him. Will you please journey with us, investing prayer and resources to get us there?
Staff and students at Missons Fest Vancouver
Every year, mission weekends are organized across Canada to tell of God’s amazing work through global and local ministries.
ISMC participates in these weekends because we hear and see God moving in the lives of international students and want to share this exciting news. If you have a heart for international students, visit us at a mission fest and see what we are up to.
Where we are going
Where we’ve been
“From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take.” 1 Chronicles 12:32, NLT
October 9, 2016. Seattle, Washington. A brown skinned young lady rushes toward my wife and me, beside herself with joy and exclaiming, “Uncle Bakht Singh, Uncle Bakht Singh!”
“What is going on?” I wondered, bracing for one of God’s frequent pleasant surprises.
It was a joy to be invited to Seattle Missions Fest early last month to serve as a keynote speaker on their insightful theme, Global Disruption: Problem or Opportunity? How appropriate, considering the present, unprecedented global movement of people—voluntarily and forcibly—be they economic migrants, refugees from war and terrorism, or international students. There are more people on the move than ever in world history: 245 million of them crossing international borders, including over five million international students. That is a wave!
Why? Because God is on the move! Paul’s message on Mars Hill makes clear the sovereignty of God in determining the eras of history and the locations of people. God makes and moves in waves so His people get to spread His fame (Acts 8:4) while others get to know His name (Acts 17:26-27).
We cannot create these waves but can learn to surf them as God makes them. As a mission agency, we feel honored that God would open our eyes to see His latest wave. We are learning to surf it. Welcome to the new era of mission where globalization has so shrunk time and space that international student ministry is not local, not global, but glocal. Small local action in any Canadian city can have huge global ramifications through a ripple effect.
For a perfect example of surfs and ripples, consider the young lady I mentioned earlier.
Her name is Lima. When she saw a slide of Bakht Singh, a Sikh international student who was transformed by the love of Winnipeg’s John and Edith Hayward, Lima couldn’t believe her eyes. That young man, Bakht Singh, returned to India to disciple her parents, marry them, commission them for ministry among university students in India, and dedicate her (Lima) as a baby.Lima’s father later became an international student in the U.S. where she was raised. She served as a missionary in China and now serves the Lord with her Chinese husband and three children among low income families and refugees in the U.S.
The pebble was dropped in Canada, rippled to India, returned to the U.S., spread to India and China, just reconnected to Canada and . . . who knows what and where next?
May we understand the times we live in, learn to surf God’s waves, and allow Him to use us to cause glocal ripples from where we work and live to the ends of the earth!
Sharing from John Cuddeford, Campus Director, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Among the stories of international students impacting the world through Jesus Christ, I share that of Wing (name changed), a Ph.D. student from China who attended the FOCUS Club at the University of British Columbia.
Wing recalls, “I heard a voice inside saying ‘Why don’t you become a Christian?’ Until then, a different question was there: ‘Why should I become a Christian?’ I knew this was God speaking.”
Wing’s face beamed as she told us how she gave her life to Christ. Soon after, in the cold December waters of Vancouver’s English Bay, she was baptized.
When I met her in Beijing a few months later, Wing shared how God answered our prayers for the defense of her thesis on feminism. Before coming to Vancouver and joining the FOCUS Club, she had been frustrated by her inability to complete a crucial chapter of her dissertation. It was on the nature of men and women and how this contributes to a proper view of the potential and dignity of women. However, once Wing became a Christian and read Genesis 2 and 3, she was able to finalize the writing, using the creation story. Wing knew she was taking a huge risk in using the Bible as support, but God honored her faith and courage with a successful defense.
Wing’s dream had been to teach in a large university where she could inspire the next generation, particularly young women, to become all they hoped to be. In China, the competition for such jobs is fierce. Once again, we rejoiced together as God answered our prayers—Wing is teaching and reaching hundreds of students at a prestigious university. As a Christian, she is living out her dream and impacting the world—not for herself and not for her university or family, but for Jesus Christ!
Wing’s story is one of many about international students coming to the Lord in Canada before returning home, carrying the light of Christ to shine into the lives of many.
Published on the November 2016 issue of Doorways
Published Newfoundland and Labrador
Published a post on International Student Ministries Canada
Joined the community of President's Circle (Dr. Yaw Perbi's Support)
Published National Staff Conference 2017
Joined the community of Logos Hope Vision Trip
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