In the fall of 2016, Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, PA started a ministry reaching out to internationals in the city. SAMS’ Associate Director, Denise Cox who also attends the church, had been praying all summer about how she could serve the Lord in a new way. She has a heart for international people and has made life-long friendships with those from different countries. God answered her prayer when she saw the bulletin for the new English as a Second Language ministry right at her church!
Denise reached out, encouraging me to join in extending the Good News of Christ through teaching English in the Pittsburgh area. With my background in English education, I felt God calling me to use my teaching skills to minister to others.
Now, two years later, people from all over the globe meet weekly to learn English, some attend a Bible study, and about a dozen attend Alpha where they are learning the basics of Christianity. Some are students at the local universities, others are spouses of students, and some are new citizens looking to learn more. New people who are interested in class come weekly, discovering the classes through word of mouth, or flyers seen in their community. The Lord is bringing people right to the church doorsteps!
Participants are from China, Japan, Indonesia, Montenegro, Brazil, Iran, and France, just to name a few. During Bible studies and classes, I find myself in awe of how different everyone is, yet so much alike. When we come together to study the word, we all are part of the body of Christ. It reminds me of Revelation 7:9:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…
We each have a role to play in the bringing about the Kingdom of God. It has been a blessing for teachers to see some participants come to know the Lord and to witness one young woman being baptized.
Just in the last few years, the international student population has grown to over one million in the U.S. and many of these students are near you! How is your church or community reaching out? Just recently, SAMS Missionary Mary McDonald who has a passion for international students has partnered with Leiton and Lisa Espineli Chinn, Intervarsity’s International Student Ministry global consultants and AGMP Missionary Partners, in starting The Anglican International Student Mission Network (AISMN), a new initiative. Learn more about Mary’s ministry here, and perhaps discover how your church can get involved by attending the first ACMI Conference happening this May 31st!
By Sarah Norris, SAMS Communications Coordinator