“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?!
Dr. Yaw Perbi