For international students attending the University of South Alabama summertime is a mixed bag of classes, study and work. We still have a good number of students here in Mobile, so we choose to continue to minister through the summer terms and even begin preparation for the fall. This week we took a number of students to the beautiful scenery of the Pier in Fairhope, Alabama. We had a great turnout on a very hot and humid evening! God has made us of us we deep relational needs. Try to imagine being separated from family and friends for years at a time....what would that feel like emotionally? Loneliness is very tough to deal with over time. Our ministry seeks to communicate and meet various needs that will help people experience God's love and more fully embrace the gospel.Over the course of a few hours of hanging out together sharing food, conversation and great scenery we saw relationships forming, deepening and granting opportunity of overcoming loneliness and isolation for so many. Christian writer Dallas Willard said it so well, “The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.”
Our vision at Friends of Internationals is to help create opportunities for God's people to use the ordinary rhythms of life to welcome and love international students, refugees and others struggling to connect relationally with God and people. We need your prayers to be sensitive to how to do that in ever more challenging environment of fear and anxiety. Satan seeks to separate, isolate and destroy people. God seeks to place the lonely in families! (Psalm 68:6)
Special Prayer Focus
As we continue to experience global terror and political upheaval I think it would be wise for Christians to really pray about the conditions of our own hearts and minds. The change in our lives can almost be imperceptible and not easily discerned...perhaps a change in our commitment to a certain ministry or relationship. We often react to stress and perceived danger or uncertainty with some version of what is known as the 'fight or flight' response. Here are Jesus words of warning from Matthew 24:12, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."
As we prepare for a special outreach later in July we are calling, "Christmas in July" we are asking you to pray for our team for God's ideas on how to minister through our various activities and relationships. When I was a child, our cousins in Connecticut would invite us to their home in the summer to help us celebrate Christmas together since they could not visit us in December. We loved the idea of celebrating the joy of Christmas twice a year and the warm weather and swimming in their pool didn't hurt at all! In seeking to communicate the message of Jesus across cultures, we have to be creative and often 'out of the box'. Pray for God's grace to be revealed as we have some fun and also share the true meaning of Christ in this outreach to international students!
Fall Semester Welcome Dinner
On July 9th, 1998 our family drove into Mobile, Alabama to begin ministering as directors of Friends of Internationals. Almost immediately, we faced immense challenges that would test our faith. Mary developed a kidney stone requiring an emergency procedure. Mary's mom came to help us and collapsed from an allergic reaction that almost caused her to stop breathing. A few weeks later we were to host our first welcome dinner without the money we needed and very little idea of how to do the ministry. We needed God desperately and we knew it....and now all these years later we have not moved far from that realization. We need God desperately to help us to minister to these wonderful students in need of God's love. Make no mistake.....we still realize that apart from God's sustaining grace and power, we cannot do the ministry of Friends of Internationals. On August 26th we will host our annual welcome dinner and we are asking for your continued generosity in both prayer and financial gifts to enable us to continue to serve the nations represented. Who knows who God will bring to our doorstep? We wait with expectancy and great faith. God will do marvelous things! Thank you for standing with us all these years! We are so deeply grateful!
In Christ love;
Jim and Mary