Lonely international student finds hope in the gospel

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Chunhua’s* knowledge of the Bible was spotty at best. As a little child in China, she remembered her mother talking about Christianity, but she had no grasp of what it meant to have a relationship with God. This all changed when she came to Canada as an international student.

The experience of living in a foreign country was one she had looked forward to for years. But when the excitement and novelty wore off, Chunhua found adjusting to the new culture and language difficult. She was lonely, having never been away from her parents before.

It was at this critical juncture of her life that she met a group of exuberant Christian young people who ran a ministry on campus for people like her. They were about bringing college students together in meaningful and supportive friendships, all the while introducing them to the message of the Bible. As part of their get-togethers, they would show the Videobook of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus and they invited Chunhua to join them.

At first, Chunhua hestitated to commit, but the friendliness and sincerity of her new friends finally won her over. She started watching the DVD series together with other international students. She loved what she learned.

Chunhua discovered that, as a result of what Jesus did on the cross, she could have a relationship with God as her kind and good Father. This meant everything to this young girl living alone in a foreign country.

She shared after: “I have been able to establish a more solid understanding about the Bible and Christian belief. The DVD filled the gaps in my knowledge framework about the Bible and helped make sense to me of how the world operates.”

Speaking of the video sessions, she says, “Without it, there would have been no possibility for me to start seeking Christ and establish my own belief.” Now, as a result of the welcoming friendship of her Christian friends and their faithful witness, she understands and believes the gospel.

What a testimony to the great opportunity we have to reach into the lives of international students and immigrants! If you want more ideas of how to do so, as well as other testimonies, check out our full-length article How GoodSeed tools can help you reach International Students.

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

A school assignment turns into a time of rejoicing

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Peter and Louise Johnson* have lived in the same neighbourhood for almost two decades. And right next door to them has always been the same older couple, Bill and Mary Robinson. Over the years, the neighbourly relationship between the two couples has developed into a deep friendship. In many ways, they consider each other just like family.

The Johnsons knew from early on that their friends were not believers. Over time, Bill and Mary revealed that while they had grown up in ultra-religious homes, at some point they’d left church life due to “the bitter taste that had been left in their mouths.” Though this experience was now part of their history, the Robinsons maintained the “good works for Heaven” mentality that they’d been steeped in. The Johnsons longed to see these dear ones come to know the Saviour.

When Mary had a heart attack years before, the Johnsons had taken the opportunity to share the gospel. However, they quickly realized that while a seed may have been planted, nothing had changed regarding the Robinson’s views on the Bible.

What was obvious to Peter and Louise, however, was that their friends were searching. Bill was a big reader and often his books were of a religious nature relating somehow to Jesus or the Bible. Usually they were books off the New York Times Best Sellers and not necessarily biblically sound, but he seemed to have maintained an interest in spiritual things, despite his aversion to church.

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This study brought it all together!

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It is always such an encouragement to hear how believers are strengthened in their faith and understanding of the Bible through chronological resources. Janie’s* testimony is an example of this. She was a participant in a recent Worldview Rethink study led by two of our staff and wrote the following email to express her thanks.

It is with great pleasure that I look back to our study, By This Name… Raised in the church, my whole life revolved around Christian activities. I was well taught all the Old Testament stories, believed in the authenticity of the Bible, had accepted Jesus as my Saviour, and knew the presence of God in my life.

There were years when I did not live my faith, and was ashamed of my behavior, but I was never ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Never did I feel abandoned by God, rather that I had abandoned Him, or tried to. We know how He draws us back.

I entered this study with many precious gems of Biblical knowledge knocking around loose in my head. This study brought them together as gems in a single piece, pointing our way to eternity.

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The right key

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“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9 NIV).

It was one of those days that are irrevocably engraved on his memory, and the small details remain vivid to this day. He can still remember the fresh autumn air on his face, and walking across the field with his two children. It was a warm fall day, a beautiful Sunday… until the mobile phone began to ring in his pocket.

“Tomasz*, please come home!” The voice of his wife sounded strange.

“Has something happened?”

“Just come home, please! Immediately!”

When Tomasz looked into his wife’s face a short time later, he knew something terrible had happened.

“Please call your parents in Poland. Let them tell you. It’s about your brother.”

A despair spread over Tomasz when he heard about the house fire. Then came the crushing realization that his brother had likely died in the flames.

Any remnant of hope was crushed when, a few days later, the police identified his brother as a victim of the fire. In a moment, a life had been extinguished. The life of his only brother.

Until then, Tomasz had lived a traditionally religious life. He knew that God was the supreme authority in a person’s life. Accordingly, he endeavoured to be a man of good deeds. He prayed, revered the saints and visited the church–all in an effort to please God. But the sudden death of his brother highlighted the transient nature of life. Tomasz felt a yearning to change the way he was living.

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From a muddy pond to pure, life-giving water

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Many, these days, seem to borrow religious ideas from a variety of sources. Claude* was one such individual.

In his mid-fifties, Claude was very religious. While he identified himself with a traditional church, he had gleaned so much of his thinking from other religions that his views were very muddled and hardly representative of his own church’s belief system.

He had become especially interested in the Eastern practices of yoga, chakra, astral voyage and so forth, as well as in the occult. His driving desire was to find that which was true. So his search continued.

A naturally curious individual, Claude was happy to learn more about religion when given the opportunity to study the Bible. He and Henri began their sessions, reading By This Name together and progressing through the Bible’s message in a way that was organized and clear.

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Seeing the Holy Spirit at Work is Extraordinary!

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Have you ever prayed for months and years for the salvation of a particular person? Sometimes it’s easy to become discouraged and wonder if it’s any use.

Carole* was an older woman and an unbeliever. However, she had a sister and a daughter who had been praying faithfully for her salvation for a long time. Would the time ever come when their loved one believed the good news of the gospel?

One day Lily approached Carole, offering to do a Bible study with her. The book they would read together was called By This Name, and it would give Carole a clear understanding of the Bible’s message. Carole agreed.

The two women met once a week for 15 weeks. Lily related, “It was such an extraordinary experience to see the work of the Holy Spirit before my very eyes.”

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It has given me the ability to defend my faith

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bible_college1“It helped me see all of the connections of the Bible more clearly so that I can be confident and equipped to share my faith with others.”

This was one of the comments received from students at a Bible institute in Ontario this past fall. GoodSeed staff members John Cross and Troy Johnstone were there to teach through By This Name as part of the students’ year of Bible studies. Over five days they taught a total of 24 hours, giving the young people the big-picture view of the Old and New Testaments, showing how God created templates in the Old that Jesus fulfilled in the New. We are grateful to this school for the opportunity to share with these young people who have given a year of their lives for Bible instruction.

One student, just 10 months earlier, had been begging for cash on the side of the street to support his drug habit. After checking into rehab he was given a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, which was instrumental in him coming to understand the gospel. Now he is taking this year to study God’s Word as he prepares for a totally different life!

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Any sign of religious belief was a sign of weakness

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A photo by saeed mhmdi. unsplash.com/photos/azbZUNpu1AgIf you met Adrien* today, you would never guess that just a few short years ago, he was an atheist who battled inner loneliness and emptiness. All you will see is a fulfilled father and husband, who is now a missionary along with his family. How did this transformation occur?

Adrien grew up in Quebec, going to church on Christmas and Easter but it was by more by obligation than by choice. Early in his teenage years, he totally rejected the idea of God and came to despise religion. He turned to science for an explanation of the world and for the purpose of life. “I was an atheist and I was strong about it. Religious people were fools in my eyes.”

After he finished his education, he joined the military. During his basic training, he became friends with Roy, a guy in his platoon. They ended up getting stationed on the same base. At this point in his life, Adrien had everything the world had to offer—a good job and lots of money. However, he was lonely and empty inside.

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The Murphys: Journeying towards the truth together

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couple-1363959_1280Kent’s story: I now know there’s significantly more to life

Kent was raised in a small town in the heartland of the United States. Growing up, he went to church most weeks, attended the local Vacation Bible School each summer and was generally a good church boy.

As a teenager, he got a part-time job which often required him to work on the weekends. His church attendance fell off till he only darkened the doors for an occasional Easter or Christmas service.

For the next 15 years or so, Kent found himself chasing the next promotion, the next pay raise, the next pursuit, too busy to spend much time thinking about spiritual matters.

But then something happened that became a turning point in Kent’s life. A question was raised by his grandfather in the midst of a seemingly mundane conversation. Kent’s grandmother had passed away not long before, so Kent was checking in with his grandpa, chatting about the usual things: hunting, fishing, gardening, cars. But then Kent’s grandpa got real quiet and turned to him, “Do you think I’ll go to Heaven when I die?”

Just picturing the scene still brings a rush of emotion for Kent. At the time, the question completely stunned him, as he had never discussed religious matters with his grandpa before. “I wasn’t really sure how to answer the question,” he shares, “but it is a conversation I’ve thought about literally every day since then.”

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We need to convey more of the gospel story

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man_with_bibleDerek* was just a young associate pastor starting his first job at a church when he crossed paths with Nick. Derek’s zeal for sharing the gospel had led him to hand out numerous tracts and speak to many people about God’s love in sending Jesus to earth to die for them. His presentation of the gospel generally started with the cross. But with Nick, Derek suddenly found himself needing to shift gears in his approach. Here was a guy who literally knew nothing about the Bible. Nick didn’t even know the difference between Jesus and Moses!

It was at this point that Derek realised that he would be unable to simply tell Nick about the cross and expect Nick to understand the gospel sufficiently to put his faith in Christ. So, as the two young men began meeting together for lunches at a restaurant, Derek began telling Nick the story of the Bible, starting in Genesis. As they progressed, Derek used napkins to draw illustrations of key concepts and events of the Old Testament.

“After several weeks we finally arrived at Jesus,” Derek later wrote. “The Sunday following our final meeting, Nick came to my office after church because he was ready to trust Christ. I’ll never forget seeing him drop to his knees, confess his sin, and claim Christ as his sufficient substitute. When he stood up he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘The robes of Jesus righteousness have just been placed around my shoulders.’

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