Jay & Kelley Reapsome- serving with CRU/Bridges International at Penn State
As we shiver and shovel our way through winter here in State College, God is warming the hearts of many students with the truth of His Word. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, 27 staff and students from Penn State joined over 600 students from across the US in Daytona, FL for our annual Bridges International Vision conference. God drew students from 75 nations with varying religious backgrounds from atheist to Christian.
Mary, a Chinese visiting scholar at Penn State, posed some probing questions about the Bible, Jesus and God to one of our seasoned, veteran staff from her culture. Phillip (our Bridges staff member) engaged with her in a spiritual conversation while on a sightseeing trip. Like many of the conferees Mary was eager to learn more about what a difference knowing and following God could make in her personal life and her society. Phillip shared with her the claims of Christ and explained how they related to her culture.
Two weeks after returning to Penn State, Mary wrote a note to Sue, a staff member with another ministry that works with us in reaching international students, and explained that she had put her faith in Christ as her Savior. Praise God for His work in building His kingdom among the international students here at Penn State and for allowing us to be a part of His life saving work!
Ten years ago, Jim, a Chinese visiting scholar, attended Penn State for 6 months. During that time a staff couple, Ben and Cathy, with another campus ministry invited Jim to stay with them for two weeks before he returned to China. Ben and Cathy gave Jim a Bible and started studying it with him. Jim recently returned to Penn State to finish some work for his professor here.
A few weeks ago, I began to meet with Jim to help him with his English. When I asked him about his interest in studying the Bible together he enthusiastically replied, “Yes, as much as I can until I return to China in June.”
Jim’s wife is with him this time and is also studying the Bible for the first time with a staff woman here at Penn State. Please pray for Jim and his wife to understand their need for Christ and for their hearts to be humble and open towards God!
On March 13th, we will take a group of students to visit Washington, DC and Philadelphia for three days. We will stay with host families in both cities during this trip. In the past, these families have seized the opportunity to turn the conversations to God and the Bible and often share their testimonies. Please ask God to bring 20 students whose hearts He has prepared as good soil for planting the seed of the Gospel!
This is also a great opportunity to build relationships with some students we have recently met and have spiritual conversations while we travel! Also, please pray for good weather and travel safety. We have had our share of winter storms causing treacherous road conditions for travel over the past few weeks. Please pray too for good conversations and wisdom for the right words to say as we interact and build friendships with these students.
Thanks again for all you are doing to help take the Gospel to many students who have never heard before and others like Mary who have heard, but still have many questions!
Until the whole world knows,
It has felt like an exceptionally long 6 weeks since I wrestled with writing to you about our tragic loss of Christopher. Thank you so much for your generous outpouring of love and concern for Lacey and us since that time. We are sustained by the Lord and have appreciated your prayers on our behalf.
I am amazed at how steadily Lacey and Jay go on with their lives, walking by faith and persevering through these difficult weeks. Jay has continued his normal schedule while adding trips to Harrisburg to help Lacey. Lacey has had a great deal of extra work due to the many changes she has needed to make almost immediately. She has now completed her last day of work at her church and is on a trip abroad to explore our old stomping grounds, hike, ski and relax/restore. Please join us in praying that her needs will all be met by the Lord during this time; that she will be refreshed and healed.
Some of us are having sleep issues, which makes focus and attention challenging. As one of the sufferers, I am thankful that our teammate, Dawn, has been willing to complete this semester with the older girls I have been discipling; Holly, Xin and Suchi. The undergrads are plenty for me to keep up with at the moment, and they will still be here in the future, Lord willing. My days feel much more manageable now!! We all continue to need Christ’s healing from our loss.
Two weeks ago was Spring Break for Penn State. Jay and some colleagues took 23 students on a trip to Washington DC, Philadelphia and the Harrisburg Capitol. They had great conversations with the (mostly new to us) students. While in DC, a former CRU staff friend led tours of historic sites and provided great input on the Christian Foundations of our country’s history. Staying with Christian host families proved once again to be a highlight for our students. Desire, a visiting scholar from Benin, Africa, said that his experience with the host families was one of the best parts of his visit to America. He also claimed that it changed his view of Americans. Before, he thought that Americans were all like those he has seen in American movies and TV shows.
Desire came to faith in Christ while in high school through a friend who took him to church near his home. His wife is also a believer who suffered beating by her father, a follower of one of their traditional national animistreligions. She remained faithful to attending church and following Christ and has now seen her father change and led some of her younger brothers to faith in Christ.
Please pray as we seek to follow up with Desire and other students (an atheist woman from the Ukraine, a Muslim woman from Iran, a Muslim man from Burkina Faso and several Atheists from China) who God allowed us to connect with through our Spring Break trip. Also, please pray for our Talent Show outreach on April 4th. We invite any international student to perform their talent (auditions required) at our talent show and we invited all of the international students at Penn State that have e-mail addresses for (about 2,000) to attend the event. During the event we invite them to join a Bible study or meet with us to discuss the true meaning of Christianity. Pray that many will attend and that we will be able to follow up with 50 or more.
Thanks again for making many sacrifices to partner with us to take the Gospel to students from nations around the world who study at Penn State!