God is at work, both domestically and internationally! Perhaps you feel a pull to work with international students here in the U.S., but are unsure of exactly what that would look like. Below is a small insight into one of the ways in which the gospel is being used tangibly to reach students for Christ from perspective one of our very own RUF-I interns.
“Did you see?! Did you see?!” the boy excitedly exclaimed to his friend. “I just converted!”
Just minutes before, this ecstatic boy, who couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old, had taken a vow of faith in front of hundreds of his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters. His mother was a recent convert to Islam, and it was his turn to declare his allegiance. He vowed to worship Allah alone for the rest of his days and to follow the teachings of Muhammad, Allah’s messenger, to the best of his ability. His confession was greeted with joyful cheers and hugs as his brothers welcomed him into the community of faith.
As I witnessed these events from the back of the Mosque, my heart broke. It broke for the little boy. It broke for my Muslim friend that had invited me to the event. And it broke for the whole community of Muslims that were gathered in front of me.
Experiences like this are the reason that I have loved my job with RUF-I. I’ve not only been able to learn so much about our students’ religions through conversations, but I’ve also been able to witness their attempts to live out those beliefs. As I watch my students “grow” deeper and deeper into these hollow beliefs, the Lord has been giving me a more compassionate heart as I desperately long for them to recognize the truth of the Gospel.
Jim (the name I’ve given to my friend who invited me to the mosque) popped into the picture last year when he randomly signed up to attend one of our events. No staff invited him. No staff even knew who he was. He simply heard about our event on social media and showed up. And I am forever grateful that he did. Since that weekend, Jim has become one of my best friends. He is the sweetest guy you will ever meet (I’m talking like Mr. Rogers’ level sweetness), and one of the most faithful friends.
Jim and I have been through a lot together this year. We’ve spent hours together playing sports with friends, attending weekend retreats, meeting regularly for lunches, and conversing about life and spirituality. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of our times together, there is one “hang sesh” in particular that sticks out above the others as my favorite. As we walked the sidewalks of campus, he shared about his recent struggles concerning the nature and claims of Jesus. He explained that, growing up as a Muslim, he’s always heard that Jesus was a prophet and messenger from God, nothing more. In fact, to claim that Jesus is anything more than that in his country is blasphemous and could get him into serious trouble. Through his involvement with RUF-I and relationships with other Christians, Jim’s worldview has been challenged for the first time. He’s been confronted with a different Jesus. A Jesus who made extreme claims about Himself and His identity. A Jesus whose life, death, and resurrection hold a tremendous amount of historical and logical evidence. And a Jesus who is powerful enough to save people from their sin. Mixed with the teachings from his upbringing, all of this has left him in a state of confusion and curiosity.
Alhough Jim is still wrestling through these things, and likely will continue to wrestle for months to come, I trust that the Lord will continue to challenge Jim, revealing Himself to him and drawing him into a relationship with Himself in His perfect timing. In the meantime, I consider it a great privilege to witness God so clearly at work in Jim’s life.
My relationship with Jim perfectly sums up my life as an intern with RUF International. Welcoming the nations, exploring the Gospel with them, and watching the Lord work in unbelievable ways as He fulfills His promise to gather people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation into His family.