Over the past several years, First Church families have become Friendship Partners with over 80 international students attending the University of Texas at Dallas. Although the Friendship Partner program technically ends when the students graduate, many friendships continue long after graduation. Here’s an update on some of the students that have been involved with our church.
James Zhang was friendship partners with Steve Childress, and he often played with the orchestra at First Church. He is now a doctoral student in accounting studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It was there that he became a Christian and was baptized. Steve Childress flew to Tampa to celebrate with James at his baptism. James shares,
“My faith in God originated in the “sowers” in Dallas, and every Christian I met in Dallas inspired me to get closer to God. The faith has been further developed with the guidance from the “reapers” in Tampa, and has led me to become a Christian. Therefore, even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
Now I am at the University of South Florida, continuing my doctoral in accounting studies. I am really thankful that God has already designed a plan for my life as a knowledge giver and idea developer in teaching and research. I will keep on praying to God for adding my faith with stronger faith and training me to be a stronger soldier in the Kingdom of God.”
Sophie Li’s friendship partner was Nickie Kan Lac. She recently married Samuel Wu, and they attend the The Village Church’s Plano campus and serve with their home group. Sophie shares: “Everything has been blessed by God. I got a new job, working for a supply chain management solution provider company, I feel grateful every day, because I know God provides it while I don’t deserve it.”
Sophie has been going to Bible Study Fellowship since last year. “I’m going to continue this class, and my goal is to at least go through 7 years study. It’s a great class with a lot of resources to study God’s words. For a young and new Christian like me, it’s a very valuable opportunity. Life is busy but enjoyable. Our challenges are to equip ourselves with God’s words and finding out more opportunities to serve God.”
Blaire Guo is Sarah Bales’ friendship partner. She says, “I believe the Lord did a great job in my life. I feel so grateful to meet friends all over the world and have my American partnership family. I thank God I got a good job in a company with constant learning environment.” Blaire also shared a favorite verse, Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
This year, there are more international students who would like to have a friendship partner than ever before. If you want to be involved, there are many ways to get plugged in with UTD’s international students and show God’s love.
1) Got stuff? Do you have extra furniture, bedding or pots and pans and more that could help an international student get their dorm or apartment set up? Garage Giveaway is Saturday, August 29 and Ray Cotton, with International Students, Inc., would love to take your donations. firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Got a car? Could you help welcome a student with a ride from the airport to UTD? Airport Pick Up – will be starting in August. For more information contact John Anderson at email@example.com
3) Got an extra room? Students sometimes need Temporary Housing when they first come to the university. If you have an extra room and would be willing to be a first stop for a student’s college journey, you can contact John Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that there are some other student organizations that help with rides and rooms. One of the biggest needs is for American friendship partners.
4) Got a little time? Have you seen international students visiting our church and are wondering…what is this “Friendship Partner Ministry” is all about? Demystify the mystery. Come find out more about the Friendship Partner Program in an information session, fellowship and food to find out more. Please email Mary Beth Goodrich at email@example.com or call her at 214-282-2156 if you would like to join one of two sessions to learn a bit more:
- Lunch, fellowship and information session on Sunday. August 23, 12:00pm – 1:30pm right after church
- Dinner, fellowship and information session on Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 6:30pm – 8:00pm.