The 2021 school year has started with hope. Despite continued restrictions, we saw new students arriving and the restart (or reimagining) of so many International Student Ministries programs!
That’s not to say that ministry didn’t continue throughout the pandemic. Some programs were transformed into online formats and smaller gatherings, while new needs also became apparent and ISMC workers and partner churches rose to the challenge. Whether ministry took the form of care packages to meet physical needs or individual phone calls and Zoom gatherings to meet emotional and spiritual needs, God’s love was being extended to international students. The other day, I heard an encouraging story from one of our Hamilton team members that illustrates how familiar and new ministry programs have blended to reach around the world. A graduate student had been attending an ISMC Bible study. As ministry shifted online, the student’s wife, who couldn’t be in Canada with her husband, was able to join the study! Similarly, ISMC Vancouver has started reaching out to students both locally and internationally through their Zoom conversation club. God has provided fascinating opportunities for outreach and discipleship even at the height of COVID restrictions.
That said, we are excited to see face-to-face ministry resume in some capacity at campuses across the country to engage the many students God is bringing to Canada! Students like Michael, who approach the Christian faith out of curiosity and a desire to learn about Canadian culture. They give us opportunities to sow seeds and build relationships.
It has become abundantly clear that international student ministry happens in the context of relationships. We see God using ISMC programs such as FOCUS Clubs, ESL programs, Discovery Bible Studies, Friends for Dinner and Friendship Partners to initiate relationships between international students and Canadians. It is within these relationships that students are introduced to the people of God and to the person and teachings of Christ. While building relationships with Canadians is a heart desire of so many students who come to Canada, our heart’s desire is that they will also have the opportunity to build a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey of speaking into the lives of international students! Your gifts and prayers make it possible for ISMC to continue ministering on campuses across the country. Learn more ways to get involved at ismc.ca/get-involved.