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It’s an exciting time for ISMC GTA (Greater Toronto Area). New associate staff are entering this field of over six million, with about 50,000 international students attending its many colleges and universities.
All growth needs a catalyst and ours was a series of initiatives led by Alexander Best, ISMC’s acting GTA director and executive director of the Lausanne Movement. These endeavors focused on welcoming and connecting with international students at their primary point of entry: Pearson International Airport.
Earlier last year, we tested WelcomeRide, a free airport ride program. And in early January, we set up a student welcome booth called WelcomeAirport.
It wasn’t hard to see God’s favour on these projects! Pearson’s chaplain helped us get a booth permit and the administration waived the required booth fees—all of that on extremely short notice. We were thrilled that God provided eleven volunteers who served ten hours in this fruitful ministry! Praise God with us for His favour and provision!
Ours was a simple emphasis—to make incoming students feel welcome, loved, and cared for. Over the course of the day we interacted closely with more than 30 incoming students, and referred 13 to Christian groups on campus.
A Mexican student asked about transportation so we introduced him to the public transit system and offered him a bus ticket. We spent an hour chatting while he waited for his bus. He later wrote:
“Thank you very much for all your help! No one believed I made it all the way to the university with public transit. I wanna invite you for a meal as an appreciation for the help you gave me when I needed it most!”
What a joy to welcome and interact with newly arrived students! Our prayer? That these connections will develop into meaningful friendships that lead these students to Christ.
Through the WelcomeRide and WelcomeAirport programs, ISMC GTA has facilitated the development of more than 75 supporters for ongoing ISMC work across 50+ organizations. We hope to mobilize more churches and volunteers across the city to welcome the massive influx of students that occurs every fall.
These are exciting times in the GTA, and we sincerely solicit your prayers and support!