Operation Friendship :

SophiaFor me, cross cultural ministry has been about extending a hand of friendship and love to International Students studying at the Newcastle University to help them adjust to their new life while they are on the Central Coast. I have been doing this with ‘Operation Friendship’ for close to a year now. Being from Asia myself, and having been a student when I first arrived, I know what it is like to face cultural barriers, racism and learning challenges in a foreign land.

When my church first considered establishing this ministry with the University, I felt that God wanted me to volunteer. I feel that God has always been with me on this. As a person I am a little reserved, and I found it challenging reaching out to strangers this way. But, God gave me the courage to pursue and strike up a friendship, even though it was one sided for a time. My student and I now share joy and genuine love. Through her, I have come to know 7 other international students at the Ourimbah campus and 2 from Newcastle. Occasionally I bring students to our church and the student that I am teamed up with meets us for dinner on a weekly basis. We also try to include her in whatever we do on weekends. As yet, my student doesn’t know God, but whenever we have our meal, we pray, and she is now happy to join in and be included. We believe that God’s seed is being planted here.

My whole family enjoys meeting the students and we have been enriched by their culture and their outlook on life. Something like this can never be bought, and I can only encourage others to open their homes and hearts. The rewards both ways are plentiful.

I feel that God has blessed me so richly in all that I have. I take none of it for granted and I know that in opening our home and family to others, God will use this welcoming ministry to work His ways.