John Horn’s interview with Rose Bear from First Southern Baptist Church, Terre Haute
John: How did God lead you to get involved with international students and refugee ministries?
Rose: When I first came to Terre Haute I started a program with the help of our church to minister to the wives of international students at ISU. After doing this ministry for 6 years, one of our ISU BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) students went to Thailand as a summer missionary, and came back excited about reaching international students on our campus. Since then BCM has had conversational English groups and done other projects to reach international students.
Concerning Afghan refugee ministry, when I saw the images a year and a half ago of people fleeing their country to find a new home in America, I was heartbroken and began to pray. I contacted NAMB and talked to a resettlement worker and was told that the closest Afghan refugees would be to us would probably be Chicago. But the burden did not go away, and I kept praying. Eight months later I learned from some former BCM students that several Afghan families were coming to Terre Haute. Through that connection I was able to start helping them with English classes. I was able to collect some household items, and another former BCM student joined me in collecting toys and books for the children. Recently, I’ve visited in some of their homes, and had the opportunity to pray with one family.
John: Why do these kinds of ministries matter?
Rose: Some may think internationals and refugees are a small part of our Hoosier population and ask why we should get involved in ministering to them. Many internationals and refugees have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Many have never even known a Christian. To reach them, we face none of the hardships an international missionary would face; we only have to reach out to the mission field that God has brought to us. Most international students will return home, and refugees may relocate. The time to reach them is now in this God-given time. Jesus challenges His followers in Matthew 25:31-46 to serve the hungry, the stranger, and those who need clothes—and He says, “Whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” For Jesus, these kinds of ministry were not just a good idea, but a priority!
John: How can SCBI churches get involved in ministering to internationals and refugees?
Rose: If God gives you a passion for serving these people, start praying! The Evil One doesn’t want us to reach them, so we will only be effective in spiritual warfare when we pray. Trust God to open doors. Be committed to reaching your neighbors from other countries for the long-term even if you don’t see immediate results (this is not a ministry for believers who just want to share the 4 Spiritual Laws one time and never go back again). Ask God to open your eyes to creative ways to minister. Holidays (especially Christmas!) are a great opportunity to invite internationals and refugees into your home (most have never set foot in an American home.) Volunteer to be a friendship family if your school or community has such a program. Consider renting a room to an international who wants to live with an American family. Connect with other believers who have a heart for internationals, and don’t try to do it all by yourself. You can contact me at email@example.com or Dennis Runner in West Lafayette at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and resources.
John: SCBI desires to connect with churches for advancing God’s Kingdom. We appreciate the great ministries of Rose and Dennis who are partnering with others to reach international persons in their communities, and we pray that you’ll ask God to show you how can get involved locally this year!