Sarah, a new IFI volunteer, felt more alive since becoming an English Conversation Partner to female students from China and Japan. Her world was expanding! God was using her! But Sarah’s church, which had blessed her for years, seemed to be shrinking. She longed to put her new aliveness into her church! Could partnering with IFI do that?
1. Local Vigor for Church Missions
When Russ and Rebecca Sermon (IFI Columbus staff) began attending Radiant Life Church (RLC) in Dublin OH, God gave RLC ideas for working with IFI. For example, when the keynote speaker for RLC’s missions dinner couldn’t come, the Sermons were asked to speak. Later, Russ and Rebecca spoke again in children’s worship, telling how their children have helped welcome internationals to their home, even teaching them about American culture and helping improve their English!
That talk was the ideal lead into the next Boys’ and Girls’ Missions Challenge (BGMC) initiative to get more RLC families involved in missions and to encourage children to give to RLC missionaries’ special needs. “Share Your Lunch” is based on John 6:9-13. This Challenge asks RLC families to invite internationals to their home at least four times this year. Could the Sermons connect them with internationals to invite? Yes, if parents went through IFI’s volunteer training.
That was arranged. BGMC leaders announced the program by sending the children home with paper lunch bags containing a program flyer, Swedish fish candies, and fish crackers. The first hosting was Easter, the next is a summer picnic, the third is a dinner after school starts, and the fourth a dinner in November.
2. Summer Housing for Dorm-less Internationals
A number of international students attend Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) in Delaware OH. Like many small schools, OWU closes their dorms over summer. Every summer, international students who take a summer course or who cannot go home must find other housing. The hospitable people Delaware Bible Church (DBC) decided that hosting these students over the summer at no charge would be a great way to meet students’ need and introduce them to Jesus. Last year, DBC members hosted 25 students for 10 weeks!
3. Monthly Cultural Exchange
Many churches’ small groups participate in IFI’s Conversations, Cultures & Cuisine (CC&C) program. Once a month, they invite internationals to join their group meeting to cook and eat dinner together, talk around the table, play games or do other activities. By incorporating CC&C into group meetings, the hosts met two needs: More lively small group meetings and English help for their new friends.
Partnering with IFI gives church members opportunities to do in-person outreach and attract internationals, bringing new vitality to the church!