These were my words in 2001 to Paul Maxwell, then ISMC president, when Heather and I joined the organization in Kamloops. I had hesitation and anticipation. Now, 20 years later, we are still with ISMC.
We came to ISMC from a mission and pastoral background. Though lacking university training, we had experience in cross cultural ministry and hospitality; Heather had international cooking skills. These assets attracted students to Jesus, as most of them weren’t necessarily looking for academic prowess, but instead for friendships and hospitality.
Hundreds of international students come to university in Kamloops from countries closed to traditional missionary outreach. The world was on our doorstep and most churches were unaware of the opportunity. With the confirmation of our church elders and at the invitation of the mission, we were willing to build a ministry reaching international students in Kamloops.
Some ministry highlights:
The day my closest friend from China, Rocky, was baptized. After three years of praying and showing God’s love, which included going to China to visit his family with him, Rocky gave his life to Christ. Over 100 attended his baptism and heard his testimony.
Our first (of three) international friends tour in 2008 began in Kamloops and saw us take a vanload of international students on a two-week trip across Western Canada to share in churches and FOCUS Clubs. A life-changing experience for many!
Moving to Vancouver in 2010 had challenges: a high cost of living, and deciding where to begin. So many colleges and universities! But God provided a three bedroom house with a big yard for an extremely low price. Then He began raising leaders, volunteers, and students to lead the work at Simon Fraser, Douglas College, UBC, and Langara, replacing Heather and me. Annual fundraisers and speaking in churches brought many new partnerships.
Nothing happens without prayer and God’s Holy Spirit. Taking students with me to give testimonies in meetings provides powerful examples of God at work. Asking Christians to cook, drive, or even host a student for dinner demonstrates how anyone can be involved. Forming partnerships with churches motivates involvement. When foreign missions start in our backyard, we impact the world.
Last year was challenging with COVID restrictions, so instead of hosting student groups, we (with the help of a donor) gave 90 gift packages to lonely and isolated students. About 20 of the gifts included 20 hand made scarfs and home made Christmas cookies. For many, it was their first Christmas gift while in a foreign land. God’s love is not restricted or limited!
Galatians 6:9 says we should not become weary in doing good, “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Yes, results take time. We need to lay good foundations, persevere, learn from others, and keep planting seeds. One day there will be a great harvest if we pray and do not give up.
Bert & Heather Kamphuis
Consultants, ISMC Vancouver