When Lily* came to Canada to start her social media management program, there were many unknowns. What would Ontario be like? Would she fit in at Niagara College? Would she keep up with her classwork? Would she be lonely? And, perhaps most importantly, would she find other Christians to encourage her in her faith?
Lily was brought up in an Indian Christian family, and while she grew up in the Middle East, this was her first time far from home all alone. She wanted to find friends who would mutually build each other up in Christ.
“Well, our God knows what He is doing,” says Lily. “He would never allow me to be stranded here. He brought me a Christian friend named Ryanna within a week of my arrival in Canada.” Ryanna is the ISMC campus coordinator on the Welland Campus of Niagara College.
Lily started attending church and Bible study with Ryanna and other ISMC staff and volunteers. More than that, she developed a relationship with them. “These beautiful souls have taken good care of me and wrapped me with the love of Christ,” says Lily. “I am being mentored in my day-to-day spiritual life. I have the freedom to open up my life, both ups and downs, without being judged by them. They accept me for all that I am and guide me to go through it all with the Word of God.”
“Lily is hungry for God’s Word,” Ryanna affirms, “She learns something from every Bible study or church service she attends. I encourage her when she gets discouraged and we pray together when she is feeling down or needs an answer to prayer.” Through it all, Ryanna sees Lily reaching out to others, even those who seem to be on the edges of the social group.
Lily continues to invest herself in opportunities to grow spiritually. She attended an international student retreat, where she had opportunity to learn, worship, listen to the Holy Spirit, and meet other international students who likewise desire to pursue a Christ-centered life. As she continues her studies, we pray that Lily will also keep growing in her walk with the Lord.
*Names changed to maintain confidentiality
Check out Ryanna’s ministry profile.
We had a retreat for our Christian international students where we trained them and inspired them to share the gospel with their peers and be on mission with us. We showed them how to lead a discovery Bible study and we shared different gospel presentations that they can use to share with others.
– Ryanna (Niagara Region, ON)
We’ve just begun to go through the book ‘Surprise the World!’ with a small group of Christian international students. I’m praying this will really help the students begin to put little habits in their lives that will lead to more ‘missional’ living.
– Erica (London, ON)
We disciple Christian students in the same way we have prepared our own children to be hospitable, to sacrifice comfort sometimes, when other students are in need.
– Skye (Vancouver, BC)
I’ve discovered men from various cultures have a hard time having a deeper conversation eye-to-eye because it’s just too abrupt, but in a kitchen chopping vegetables or on a park bench looking out at the sea, they will ask the most deep, probing questions, profoundly transformational questions that they would never ask face to face.
– Daniel (Victoria, BC)
Over the years, those who I naturally connect with have been young Christians. I’m like a big sister to them. We meet for prayer and encouragement; we talk. Sometimes I feel like I’m a relationship mentor when they go through relationship issues. God always gives me the right words to say.
– Syncia (Montreal, QC)
So often, it’s just developing relationships and being available to talk when questions come up. Sometimes it’s in person, sometimes it’s a WhatsApp or Facebook message late at night – then you pray for the right words and hope you can navigate distance and culture.
– Michele (Kamloops, BC)