Good Evening North Central!
This week I am highlighting Global Connections, an awesome organization that works with international students, staff, and visiting scholars at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. Global Connections is run by Craig and Carleen Olive, two members of our church. Their passion and love for reaching international students has helped to mobilize many people to overseas work or to serve as welcomers for internationals.
Global Connections is a ministry to international students that exists to mobilize, train, and encourage local followers of Jesus to help international students have an opportunity to be invited into a relationship with Christ while being encouraged to follow Him themselves. Global Connections has many programs in place to provide opportunities to engage internationals such as English Conversation Groups, an American Friendship program, and Bible Discussion Groups for the spiritually interested, to name a few of the things they do. In essence, Global Connections trains volunteers to show friendship to internationals by welcoming them, connecting with them relationally, and serving their needs.
One of the neat ways that God has used this ministry is through the students at UF and Santa Fe that have volunteered with Global Connections. God used their time with the ministry to give them a vision for reaching internationals, and now many of them are still reaching out cross culturally, even though their geographic location has changed! On the other side of things, God has used this ministry to engage people with the Gospel who otherwise might not ever hear it. Recently, Craig and Carleen had a Persian couple over for dinner and during that time they were reflecting on their experiences when they first arrived in Gainesville. The wife had come alone initially, and Allison Privette picked her up and hosted for a time. Later on the wife joined one of the friendship groups that was hosted by a couple from another church and has developed a close friendship with the wife. As a result of these interactions, both she and her husband have a very positive view of Christians. What an awesome example of teamwork among the body of Christ!
There are so many ways to engage in reaching International Students alongside Global Connections. About 80% of international students, by the time they leave America, have never seen the inside of an American home. With Fall approaching, there are many who will be coming to Gainesville in need love, friendship, and the Gospel. If you would like to partner with Global Connections, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are in need of friendship partners, home stays, airport pickup, and other transportation for incoming internationals!
As always, prayer is a HUGE way you can support this ministry. Please pray for the online Bible studies that they have with internationals that they have going on right now. Pray for a hunger to seek God and make Jesus their Savior in the hearts of those in these studies. Pray for the internationals coming in the Fall. Pray that they would be curious about the Gospel and that many would become believers and eventually return to their home countries as laborers for Christ. Pray for Craig and Carleen as they lead this ministry, and for God to provide the financial support needed as well as the laborers needed!