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From Shared Meals to Beautiful Friendships

February 10, 2022 | 0 Comments

For the past several years, our church has partnered with International Student Ministries by hosting monthly International FOCUS Dinners. Students are invited to the church for a potluck meal, and what started with just a few tables has grown to our auditorium full. It’s been pretty exciting.

It’s provided our church family with an excellent opportunity to get to know these students, to hear their struggles of living in a new country, to laugh together about putting ketchup on potato chips and milk in bags. But also to celebrate their victories and to know how we can better pray for them.

Many of the students are not followers of Jesus, but I have yet to meet one who wasn’t open to us praying for them. And the reality of it is, these conversations and prayers wouldn’t have taken place apart from these FOCUS Dinners. So I thank God for the simple act of sharing a meal together to develop friendships with students from all over the world. It’s not uncommon to hear the students say that this is the first time that they’ve had a meal with a Canadian. This is a great opportunity we have to share the love of Christ with these students through this act of hospitality.

One of the beautiful results of these dinners has been friendships that have resulted between those in our church and international students. We’ve had the privilege of helping them with everything from rides to speaking English to invitations to spend Christmas together. As a church, we’re also involved in the Friends for Dinner initiative where families open their homes to students for special holiday meals. Sharing meals around the holidays like Easter and Christmas provides a natural opportunity to talk about what we are really celebrating.

So I love the opportunity that we as a church family have been given of coming alongside international students and loving them in the name of Jesus. I thank God for the doors that He has opened for us to be able to share, in relationship, the gospel of Jesus Christ with students who have never heard it before because they come from countries that are closed to the gospel. So I thank God for the partnership that our church has with International Student Ministries, that through this we are able to participate in the work that God is doing in drawing the nations to Himself. And that, I think, is pretty exciting.

Mark Farrow
Lead Pastor
Stoney Creek Baptist Church