Merry Christmas! Thank you all so much for your prayers and support!
We have had the privilege over the last few months to have many interactions with international students and their families!
Derick was able to help organize "Thanksgiving dinner in an American home" between several host families from our church and students at the University of Arkansas! Jill's family opened their home to several students and their families, and we had nearly 20 guests from several different countries (mostly Muslim families)! Derick is currently working to arrange the same thing for Christmas with any students who will be in the area for the holidays.
One of the Ph.D students from an Arab country brought her husband and child. Her husband seems very open to the gospel and even said if they were going to be in the area longer that he would've loved to visit our church! Jill's family's pastor was also able to talk with him a lot on Thanksgiving and even took him hunting the next morning! We are praying for him as Derick and others continue to befriend him that God will save his soul. Our goal is that, through these host home - international student matches, many relationships would begin that would extend beyond a one-time holiday experience.
Jill and the boys have been able to be a part of a weekly Arab ladies English class, with Muslim ladies from several different countries (Iraq, Palestine, Saudi Arabia & Albania). Every week the ladies meet at a friend's home where they learn to make an American dish, eat together, then read a Bible story and discuss the English language, before hearing from a speaker on a topic of life (e.g. marriage, pregnancy, etc.).
On Black Friday, we were doing some shopping and saw a of couple ladies wearing burkas, so Jill stopped to ask them where they were from and invited them to the Bible study. They came that week, and one of the ladies brought some traditional tea and treats to share. When asked if they had ever read a story from the Bible, both ladies said they had not. We are praying they will return to more Bible studies. One of the ladies said she and her husband would be excited to come to our home for dinner after her husband's finals are finished.
Israel and Sam are doing well now after both having had colds the last couple weeks. We are enjoying being close to both of our families for this season and are grateful for Cross Church School of Ministry right here in our area that we get to serve with during the next year!
Thank you to all of those who have prayed with us and given support toward our fundraising goal! We are so grateful! In addition to helping start the International Student Ministry through Cross Church's College ministry (C3), Derick has been working hard to keep up with class assignments through the School of Ministry and has finished two of the five-week seminary classes, totaling six credit hours (during the next year he will get about twenty-seven hours!).
Prayer requests & praises:
• Pray for continued opportunities to share our faith and for souls to be saved and disciples made!
• Pray for our Arab friends.
• Pray for "Home for the Holidays" Christmas dinner in an American home—for God to bring the right students and host families.
• Pray for a Japanese student who lost his mom and recently moved to the States.
• Pray for continued health during flu season.
• Praise God for the connections that have been made with international students and their families!
Derick with a couple Nepali friends he met at an international festival. He has enjoyed practicing his Nepali language skills.
Sam's baby dedication at church
One of our Fall family photos
Jill and Israel with one of our Muslim friends at Thanksgiving dinner