Jay & Kelley Reapsome - serving with CRU/Bridges International at Penn State
(Newsletter from Jay)
As we disciple young Christian international students we find there are several things that hinder them from making time to seek the Lord and have fellowship with believers. There are three main categories for these distractions: academics (being the top of your class and getting more degrees), career (beefing up your resume, finding a good internship, developing their network among the right people and securing a high paying job) and social life (hanging out with peers and experiencing more of the American student social life).
Many times we see Satan using these earthly goals to distract our students from pursuing God. The spiritual battle for their hearts brings regular attacks on their faith and knowledge of God, Jesus and the Bible. Please pray with us for God to put a hunger in their hearts to know Him more and invest their lives in things that are eternal! Even in the midst of these struggles we’re encouraged by the steps some students are taking to initiate spiritual conversations with other international students. Pray for them to draw strength from God to follow His will even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.
The Lord has given us channels to make a connection with students through Bible studies or English lessons (200 students involved). However, there are still thousands with whom we have few opportunities to make significant contact. Most commonly these are students from Muslim and Hindu backgrounds.
Our demonstration wedding on Oct. 16th, is one way God has given us to build a bridge with these students. There were over 100 students who attended this event. Most were Chinese, but there were a few students from Arabic nations and even more Indian students attending who heard the testimony of both the bride and groom (American newlyweds). Some students indicated they would like to meet with us to find out more about our group. Please pray for friendships to be established during follow-up connections and for the Lord to open doors for the Gospel.
As we continue to build relationships with the students the Lord led us this semester, we see the Spirit of God moving in their hearts. There are five young Chinese students in my investigative Bible studies. Tim, Jim, Jared, David and Stewart are all eager to learn about Jesus and what it means to be a Christian.
After our second lesson in the book of Genesis David asked these questions, “Why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden if He wanted people to have continued fellowship with Him?” and “Since God can forgive anyone, why doesn’t He forgive everyone? Then no one would need to die?” God is drawing David to Himself through His Word.
Both Tim and Jim have shared that they want to believe, but they don’t think they know enough about God, Jesus and the Bible to believe yet. Please ask God to help these students to understand more about Him, Jesus and the Christian life as they study the Bible each week! I believe they are growing closer to having saving faith.
We are so grateful to the Lord for you and your involvement with us as we reach students for Christ! We would not be able to take the Gospel to students who have never heard without you!
Until the whole world knows,
(Newsletter from Kelley)
Hello Dear Ones!
I hope you are having a wonderful autumn as richly colored leaves declare the glory of God. We have had an unusually warm season and it is so inspiring to be out on campus enjoying the warm air, sunshine, green grass, colorful leaves and blue sky. (Reminds me of Cali this time of year.) Penn State is beautiful and the landscaping department has done a wonderful job of providing plants and trees to give delight through all the seasons. Every day on campus is an enjoyable gift of beauty for me.
Being able to enjoy the weather while also seeing the Lord work in student’s lives has been fun too. Since August I have been happy to have dozens of great conversations with new students while also continuing to disciple the women God has raised up over the last couple of years. In an effort to protect their privacy, the stories I share will be a bit ‘generic’. To God be the glory for the prayers He is answering!
Kelsey, an undergrad from Nigeria, has spent most of her life in the UK with her family (only ages 8-11 in Nigeria). Also from a ‘strongly traditional’ background, she told me she wanted to begin to study the Bible. Of course, the first step in this process was to share the Gospel with her. As we walked through the Gospel it was obvious her eyes were being opened to understand that no amount of ‘good works’ could bridge the gap between a Holy God and her personal sin. Her questions and comments confirmed her understanding and she did not hesitate to say this was the first time she really understood why Jesus had to die. She also immediately and with certainty expressed her faith in Christ’s death on the cross for her sin, receiving His free gift of forgiveness and new spiritual life in Christ! (New Life in September! Angels celebrating!)
Pam saw our club on-line and asked one of our staff for a ride to our Bridges Community Fellowship Night (which we host in our home on Saturdays.) Pam had a Christian roommate in her home country who didn’t explain her faith or invite her to Bible studies, even though Pam was interested. Pam finally learned why. It seems her roommate was being watched by government officials b/c she came from a well-known Christian family in her home (EAsian) province. When Pam came to the US she was involved in Christian clubs but says she still didn’t understand what it meant to be a Christian. When I shared the Gospel with her she said, “I have heard each of these things separately, but never in such a clear way to understand what it means to put my faith in Christ and His death as the payment for my sins. Yes, I now understand and am ready to make this decision today.” (New Life in October! Angels rejoicing!)
Emily, from the Middle East, asked to meet together for ‘coffee’ and talk about our Christian club. As we talked through the photographs of the ‘heart mirror’ outreach tool it became clear that she has a firm belief in a personal God, but rejected the faith of her homeland due to the events which have been unfolding thyere. Her distrust of Islam and fear for herself and her family was palpable. She expressed her interest in Jesus and wanted to know how faith in Jesus was ‘different’ from the Koran. This opened up the opportunity to share that Christians believe Jesus is God’s Son (not just a prophet) who was sent to pay for sin. This led to an almost complete Gospel presentation (without offering the opportunity to express faith, which she was not ready to do.) Emily was clearly moved and interested to know more. We continue to interact.
Several young women from East Asia have had the opportunity to study here in America at Christian High Schools while living with Christian host families. Some of them have put their faith in Christ, others have not. Some of these freshmen women attend our weekly community times where we have dinner, worship, Bible Study and fellowship. Please pray for decisions!
There are more stories but no more room! I hope you are encouraged by these examples of how God is working to reveal Himself to students I am privileged to be meeting with here at Penn State. Even while He is revealing Himself to these younger women I see Him also raising up ‘disciples’, the older students who are beginning to care for one another and grow as a community. To God be the glory!
Please pray for the continued growth of these young believers, that their hunger to grow would overcome their sense of being overwhelmed by their school work. Please pray that we become a hospitable and loving community of believers who enjoy and love God with our hearts and lives every single day. I have been asking the Lord for miracles as He helps me take increasing steps of faith as a light and voice for Him. It is a privilege to see how God has worked to prepare hearts and allowed me to share His Gospel with those who have been ready to respond.
In the midst of some health concerns (spiritual-battle distractions) I am reminded that GOD IS AT WORK REVEALING HIMSELF, preparing hearts of students to want to know Him. My simple part is to be yielded, dependent and available to meet and share with those in whom He is working. Thank you for making this possible!
Jay & Kelley Reapsome, Cru/Bridges International
1359 Deerfield Dr, State College, PA 16803