‘The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.’ – Psalm 24:1 –
For many years, in God’s sovereign goodness, growing numbers of international students have come to study at Sydney University from less-reached and less-resourced (LRLR) peoples and places. Since 2006, euFOCUS has been a community within the EU, resourced by EU students and staff, seeking to reach these students with the good news of God’s grace to us in Jesus. Now with Australia’s international border closed, some students have not been able to re-enter Australia to continue their studies, while others have had to begin courses online from overseas.
But God’s word crosses borders, where we cannot. With experience from lockdown last year, new euFOCUS Howie (ministry apprentice) Ira has been gathering a small group of international students from Indonesia, China and Iran online, training Chinese student Justin* as a leader in teaching the Bible and pastoral care.
But God’s word crosses borders, where we cannot.
The challenges students face highlight the realities of following Jesus in LRLR places. Reflecting on Chinese students who had gone home for the 2019/2020 summer break but have been unable to return to Sydney, Ira says: ‘People are finding it difficult to to have meaningful fellowship with other Christians in their home country. They don’t seem keen to be going to church in China, because it’s different or because of a difficult family situation. Some students find it difficult to see another Christian.’
This has been another reminder of the challenges international students face returning home, and the challenging need to prepare them to transition well. But under God, Ira says this online group has provided some connections with other Christians: ‘…the Zoom call is a place that they can pray for each other. It has given the opportunity for some pastoral care as students live through family disapproval of the Christian faith, death in the family due to COVID-19 and relationships around marriage as followers of Jesus. It sounds like for some, it’s the only pastoral care they get.’
In God’s grace the group has led to an exciting opportunity. A student from Muslim-majority country Azerbaijan found the group early in the Semester, but after Daylight Saving ended the group time clashed with one of her classes. But trainee leader Justin* has been so keen to help her continue to hear more about Jesus that he’s been meeting with her online with some EU female students, reading the Bible together.
Please pray that God would strengthen Ira in His grace and wisdom to keep caring for and teaching these students from the Bible well. Ira asks that we pray that God would keep working in the student from Azerbaijan, and the four regular students in the group: ‘Justin* our leader (China), Violet* (China), Amanda* (Indonesia), Esther* (Iran). All seem to appreciate the group very much.’
Praise God for His work in and through this group, reaching the LRLR online!
*Students’ names have been changed.
euFOCUS StaffworkerBack to Supporter Updates