Life in Indiana is going well, but still trying to get use to the temperature of early winter. We have already experienced the tornado sirens going off, to blustering winds, to a day of snow already! And we are only in the first full week of December!
I know, I know.....it will only get worse (weather wise!)
Other than the weather, our greatest challenges have been learning our way around and getting to know people. We have had some great opportunities to meet people representing different areas of our ministry. We have met with folks from the State convention, other ministry leaders, pastors, and of course international students. Arriving here in the area at the end of the semester appears to be to our advantage (thanks to the Lord!) because it is giving us a chance to get to learn our "environment" first before offering our "services." The other awesome thing is how God has sounded the trumpet of our arrival based on His reputation of providing us a house. We have people coming up to us, when they find out our name, and say, "I heard about how God got you here!" We are constantly reminding our family and those who we meet that this is ALL God's doing! He gets the credit!
Now we are getting settled in, trying to get adjusted, but also, earnestly seeking the Lord to see where He is working and to join Him. We know without a shadow of a doubt that we are to be here! It is now praying for discernment and wisdom in daily decision making for our home and ministry. Please continue to pray for us!
I'm here at a double conference in Columbia, SC. The first conference was High Impact. It was hosted by our mission board, North American Mission Board, and attended by NAMB missionaries and Baptist state missionaries who all work with international students. The second conference is a national conference for all Christians who work with international students. It doesn't matter what organization, church, denomination, or even volunteers. The only criteria is that you are a Christian.
I have been excited about attending these conferences because of their importance and wealth of information. Some of the discussions and sessions were going to be very important for the ministry that God has called us to.
Well, as of Friday, my brain is already full! :-) I still have another 2 full days of sessions and speakers to attend.
The greatest thing that I have learned so far is the need to be a learner! I had a lot of questions before I came. I desire to make as few mistakes as possible when our ministry officially starts. However, I have been learning that EVERY ministry is different because every campus is different or has different dynamics. So, the challenge is to learn and be willing to fail in order to learn. I am thankful for those who have gone before me in international student ministry (especially, those who have taken the time to impart their wisdom to me and pray for my family and I!).
God has a lot of work to do in my life, but above all, I'm just thankful that He is already at work!
There are times when you would think, "OK, enough already!" As I am beginning to approach 40, I think to myself, "OK, the brain is full!"However, I am constantly coming to the understanding that I will be learning for a long time! I enjoy experiencing new things, but there is a temptation to wonder if I have learned enough?
God is a gracious God! To stop learning is to disengage from what is going on around us. Life is always bringing about new challenges, people from different lands, new jobs, different ideas and philosophies, etc. The question that we are left with: what are we going to do with it?
With international student ministries, we are presented with people from countries from all over the world, those people come from different backgrounds from those different countries, with different family dynamics, and so on. The greatest thing that we can express to people who decide to participate with us is to look at each student as an individual. Yes, they may look different and talk different than us, but they are still people. Although they may look at things differently, we ALL still have same basic needs, and an ultimate eternal need.
The next time you have an opportunity to talk with someone from another country, take the time to find out more about them and who they really are. You will be amazed! Don't be conceited about your way being the only way. As followers of Christ, your world, your country, your state, your city is NOT your home, we are just "passing through." Be more concerned about who you are in Christ, than who you are as an earthly citizen (because it is temporary anyway). I try to imagine, what would it be like for me and my family to live in that country?
Just think about it .
Dennis Runner- a witness, a follower, a student, and a lump of clay in the hands of my God and Savior.