Tuscaloosa, AL

A Story of Making Disciples

shared by ZF and RU - These are the stories of God, by the people of God, for the people of God.
ZF: I first heard about International Connect at the Chimes Retreat. This was a weekend retreat where incoming freshmen are introduced to Christian community at UA before classes start. I went to the ministry fair, and my friend seemed super excited about the International Connect table. So, I decided to check it out. I was a little skeptical because I was thinking, “I’m not international. I don’t speak different languages, and I don't know how to interact well with people from different countries and different cultures.”  But when the representatives started talking about it, I felt like this could truly be a way for me to live out the great commission and to play an active role in the church while serving my community.

RU: I actually became involved with International Connect when Zach invited me to one of the events. He had been to a few and told me they were a great way to serve within the church. I had been looking for some ways to share my faith and get plugged into serving, so I decided to tag along with him for the next event.

ZF: During the week before classes started, I received a message saying International Connect needed volunteers to help move furniture for international students who were moving onto campus that weekend, so I decided to give it a shot. My decision to participate in a ministry has never been so rewarding. When I arrived, I was met with so much love and joy. The hard work of moving couches and dressers up many flights of stairs in the Alabama heat could not appear more fun and uplifting than it did that day. Everyone was so willing to serve and so joyful to give their time to help others. I was seeking a true Christian community at UA, and this event introduced me to a community which sought to share the love of Christ with others.

RU: Before coming to college, I had not intentionally sought to share my faith with those around me. This semester was also the first time that I have met and become friends with international students. The Lord has given me the opportunity to make multiple international friends this year, which has helped me grow through stepping outside of my comfort zone. Through these relationships, and others in my life, God has shown me the importance of being bold in my faith and sharing the love of Christ with others through my words and actions.

ZF: Speaking of action, the next international event I went to was a watch party for the first football game. It was the first time I met international students my age that I was able to form meaningful relationships with. At the watch party, we hung out, played a small game of backyard football, and ate some delicious food. But the best part was meeting so many awesome international students. It was so awesome to hear about their experiences in different countries and their transition to America. While hanging out with one of my friends, we started talking about classes and found out that we were in the exact same physics class. We just never knew it! From then on, we sat together and continued to build our friendship, even outside of class.

Through talking to others and reading scripture, it became clear to me that God places us where we are for a reason, and we should use everything we are given, especially our relationships and connections, to glorify God. I realized that it was not a mistake that I was in the same physics class as my friend, and that no one else in the entire world has the same opportunities as I do. Through this realization, I saw God showing me how I could make an impact on this campus for His kingdom. I realized that International Connect was not just about the events, but it was more about sharing God’s love and mercy through the relationships in my life.

RU: God calls us to be witnesses of Christ and His love. Through sharing my faith, I have seen how God simply calls us to be faithful witnesses. He is the One who works to change peoples’ hearts and brings fruit and growth from the seeds planted by His people. God has also shown me the importance of sharing the love of Christ by forming intentional friendships with others. Sharing the gospel is the best way to share the love of Christ with someone, and I have seen the importance of loving people well by forming intentional gospel-centered relationships with them.

ZF: Growing up in a Christian home and school, sharing my faith with others was new to me because most people already looked, acted, and believed the same as myself. I had been developing my relationship with Jesus over several years, and felt it was time to share my hope and joy in Christ with others who had not heard of Him. I’ve been involved with refugee ministries in my hometown, and I had the chance to befriend and love those from different countries. However, I had never stepped out and shared the gospel with them. Coming to college, I knew I wanted that to change. I recognize that Christ calls all of His followers to be a part of His mission, so I decided to trust that I can be a part of His plan.

RU: International Connect has helped me understand the importance and urgency of the gospel. The gospel is the story of how God has redeemed His people through Jesus Christ, His death, and His resurrection. Through International Connect, my eyes have been opened to the needs of the people around me to hear the gospel. Many international students have little to no access to Jesus in their home countries, and I hope to share the love of Christ with those who have never heard of Jesus before. Christ is our only hope.

When sharing my faith with others, I have had to learn to give up more control to the Father. People do not always respond to the gospel in a way that I would like them to. Most of the time, people are not immediately saved the first time they hear the gospel. Through this, the Lord has shown me the importance of being faithful in sharing the love of Christ and trusting that God will work through my efforts and use me as a vessel in His perfect timing.

ZF: As a volunteer with International Connect, I have learned so much more about God and his boundless love. He has a heart for the nations and He desires all people to come to him and to find life in his mercy and salvation. Christianity and the gospel is about so much more than what we see in front of us every day. The church is so much bigger than America. Jesus wants us to share his love with everyone, even if it feels uncomfortable at times. This ministry has helped me grow so much in my faith. Though I am by no means perfect, I am thankful that God has shown me my need for Christ and His purpose for my life to make much of His name as He sustains me by His spirit.