Welcoming the Nations
Dear Friends and Family;
Our welcome dinner on August 26th was a huge success. Although the number of new international students was lower than usual, we had a tremendous overall turnout of over 200 guests. Our team of volunteers did a superb job of inviting students from both the University of South Alabama and the University of Mobile. We were able to get a food waiver which enabled us to solicit local ethnic restaurants including the Yak (Nepali), Cuisine of India and Hart's Fried Chicken for donations. We also had several families and friends donate food from home too! The idea behind this welcome dinner is to create an atmosphere of welcome! This year I felt inspired to have the Mobile City Council President to officially welcome the new students. Gina Gregory did a great job of speaking to the students about the ever growing presence of global industry in our region. Our faculty advisor, Dr. Zohair Hussain interviewed Mary and I about the vision of Friends of Internationals and noted the tremendous growth of the ministry over our 19 years of involvement.
In addition to delicious food we had a mix of music, dance and gifts to help welcome the students. Katleho (S. African) and Kayleb (Malawian) and two friends from the community shared a traditional Nigerian dance. Anna and George shared a swing dance that represented American culture. Richie Bennyson led the Friends of Internationals Worship team performed through a mix of popular and Christian songs including the famous Alabama song, "Sweet Home Alabama". We gave out several gifts to new students including FOI T-Shirts and gifts cards in a lucky drawing. If I had to use a single word to describe the atmosphere of the evening it would be joy. There was a real sense of joy that permeated the evening from beginning to end. In fact it was difficult to actually end the evening as a large number of students just spontaneously began to dance together to different music that they were familiar with. Thank you so much for praying for this ministry. It's not easy to put together a large gathering with students from various nations and cultural and religious backgrounds. But God drew people together in a marvelous way.
Empowering Future Leaders Globally
Just last evening we gathered with several of our student leaders over a lasagna dinner. I shared our heart to empower the student themselves to use their God given gifting to represent God's love on the campus of USA and then beyond into their own vision for life. We have these students for a brief window of time. As Mary and I get older our vision is shifting more to empowering and cheering on these young people to do the work of the ministry. We will continue to direct and lead FOI but in a strategically different manner. We will be supporting these young people and urging them onward even now to reach out to the ever growing international community here in our area. We are not just impacting students. We are seeing international families seeking out the ministry of FOI as a way to find loving and welcoming community. Just this past weekend our own local church (Mars Hill) hosted a Labor Day Family Picnic. We invited students and international families and we had a huge response of people who otherwise probably would not attend a local church gathering. People are hungry for genuine and loving community. This semester we have several key events that will continue to gather and by God's grace grow our international family of friends! Right now we are preparing for an "Indian Night", "Venezuelan Night", "Japanese Night" and a special weekend retreat in October that will focus on a Biblical vision for relationships! Please pray for our hearts to be tender to the leading of the Holy Spirit in all these meetings and plans. We need God's wisdom now more than ever!
Thank you for praying and giving;
Jim and Mary
If you would like to financially support ministry of Friends of Internationals you can give by writing a check to IGO (enclose a note for Mather Support) and send to P.O. Box 1008, Semmes, Alabama 36575 You can also give online to support the Mather family at www.igoministries.org