Reaching out at SIUe
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. — Matt. 28:19-20
“Go here!” is the International Student Ministry (ISM) motto. It’s an invitation for congregations to help reach international students at our colleges and universities.
The ISM at Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville (SIUe) began in 2017, with the support of Southern Illinois District congregations. It is part of the LCMS U campus-ministry outreach of Trinity Lutheran Ministries, Edwardsville, under the care of Rev. John Shank, Trinity senior pastor. The coordinator of this outreach is Bessie Fick, who has served in campus outreach to international students for 20 years in Iowa, Wisconsin and now Illinois. This is a ministry of friendship and hospitality that seeks to bring the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to those coming to SIUe from many nations.
International students have many needs. Members of Trinity and other district congregations have provided household items and furniture for students who arrive here with only suitcases. Electronic equipment has been provided for students who have had to go virtual with classes because of COVID. Steve Brockmeyer has been invaluable in setting up devices for students to use. Members have supported ISM with prayer, and Southern Illinois District congregations have given financial support.
God has provided ISM with many opportunities to speak to students about His love for them. One family was receiving baptism instruction from us via Zoom. When they had to transfer to another university, we connected them with the campus pastor and instruction has continued.
We have brought God’s comfort to families who have lost loved ones to COVID in their home countries and were not able to grieve together with their families overseas. We have prayed together and networked with students who have lost jobs and internships because of COVID.
Activities have been restricted to small groups of no more than four students. Despite these limits, we have kept up conversations and prayers. We pray that the Holy Spirit will open students’ hearts to receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.
We are thankful for Southern Illinois congregations’ prayers, financial support and volunteer work.
If you are interested in learning more, ISM would be glad to speak to your congregation or Bible-study group. Contact Pastor Shank at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bessie at Bessie.Fick@yahoo.com.