UPDATE | We’ve rescheduled our Chili Cook-Off for Wednesday, March 5 at 6 pm in our Fellowship Hall. Due to the past few weeks of bad weather and canceled classes at MUSC, the International Student Program recommended that we give their students a few more weeks to sign up for this event. Rather than hosting a smaller number of students this year, we thought it would be best to give them some more time to get their tickets and encourage more internationals to come. And as a bonus, we get more time to polish our chili-cooking skills! We’re sorry for the last-minute change, and we appreciate your flexibility and continued love for these internationals! May the Lord bless our extra two weeks of preparation for this event!
$5,300 That’s about the going rate for a short-term international mission trip to East Asia.
$15 That’s about the going rate for a trip downtown and a pot of chili in order to meet students from East Asia and the rest of the world.
Both trips are strategic in terms of helping reach the nations with the Gospel. But believe me, it’s a whole lot easier to pack up a pot of chili than international luggage. Rather than each of us going through the process of going to the world (not to mention trying to have a ministry once we’re there), why not reach the world in our own backyard?
When we build connections and friendships with international students living in our backyard, we obey God’s command in Leviticus 19:33-34. “When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
On Wednesday, February 19 at 6 pm Redeemer once again has the incredible opportunity to host international students from MUSC for our annual chili cook-off and social dance. This event is attended by dozens of international students and their families and is a key opportunity for us to make relational connections that could change the world.
The benefits of hosting international students at the chili cook-off goes well beyond the event itself. It’s actually one part of a whole ministry that is reaching out to and sharing the Gospel with internationals at MUSC. The chili cook-off is like the wide part of a funnel that leads to deeper friendships and spiritual conversations through our on-campus English conversation group and one-on-one meetings.
We don’t have to worry about how to share the gospel or even how to discuss spiritual matters. Not at this event. Eventually sharing Christ with international students requires a great deal of trust and friendship. This event will help us with both.
Perhaps the number one hesitation for us as we begin to think about reaching out to internationals is that it might be awkward. We might not understand their accent or might not know anything about their culture. We may struggle to relate to their world as students or wonder why they stand so close when talking with us.
So what do we do when faced with an awkward situation or someone we can’t very well understand? Quite simply, with love and compassion, we can learn to embrace the awkwardness. Not avoid it, not find someone easier to talk to. Embrace the awkwardness. Find some common ground—music, interests, food, sports, literature—and enjoy making a new friend.
Believe me, our love and intentionality doesn’t go unnoticed:
“I really want to say thank you for all the people involved in the international student ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Your love and caring for internationals students is so meaningful to all of us who came from other countries…Thank you so much for helping us to get used to American culture and be friends with us…I feel Redeemer Presbyterian Church is like a big family and no matter who you are you are fully accepted in this big family, which is truly amazing and only God can make this happen…I am so happy that I can be part of [Redeemer] right now, and I am looking forward to learning more of God’s love in this place for the coming years.” –Cynthia Li