It all began with the visionary pastor and big-hearted people of a small church on the edge of a large university town.  Some church members were faculty at the school, some were students.  All were aware of God’s longing that all nations would experience His love and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  And all realized that the Lord had brought the world to their doorstep!  Pastor Bruce Erickson and his church yearned with God that every international student and scholar from over 100 nations at The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio, would have the opportunity to experience a warm welcome and love through His Son, Jesus.

The people of little Covenant Baptist Church on the northwestern edge of Columbus began with friendship, inviting internationals to their homes and visiting them in their homes.  They ate meals together, went grocery shopping together, celebrated birthdays and holidays together.  Covenant member Elaine Anderson recalls, “There was a ministry at Covenant of reaching out to students at OSU and there was a young single woman coordinating it, but I can’t remember her name.  We befriended a South Korean man back in 1973 and went to his wedding that year.  A couple from South Africa were our next contacts around 1974 until they returned home.  They came back for a visit in 1976…  Pastor Bruce [Erickson] was a forward thinker, and I could see him coming alongside Mabel to encourage her to start the international student ministry (ISM), since there had already been a culture at our church of reaching out to internationals.”