Tuesday, 24 August 2021
In Australia, we have many least reached people groups living amongst us. To faithfully reach these people groups in our own backyard, SIM Australia has developed a local ministry called ‘Across’. Across facilitates mission workers within Australia to reach communities that are yet to hear the Gospel, such as migrants and international university students.
James, an Across mission worker, is reaching out to international students through a university club that is run by Christians. This club is for international students regardless of their faith background and provides the opportunity for students to receive social, physical, emotional and spiritual support. James said, “Loving people with the love of Jesus often breaks down assumptions and the barriers that prevented them from really hearing the Gospel in the first place.”
As well as meeting once a week, the students connect in an online group and over planned activities through the semester. James added, “It is also a context where we can invite people to church events and Bible studies.”
Below, you can read how one member of the group, Jane*, was able to receive emotional support.
Jane, an international student at a university in Adelaide, was overjoyed to finally complete her Master’s degree. It was a challenging year for her after classes had been moved online due to COVID-19. Now, she looked forward to her graduation ceremony that would take place just before she returned to her home country, Myanmar.
Due to the pandemic, the normal graduation celebrations were restricted. International students now had to collect their certificate in smaller groups, followed by a quick individual photo. Due to an unfortunate mix-up from the university, Jane didn’t receive the notification about the ceremony so she missed the occasion. Jane had to come in by herself and collect her certificate on another date. She was glad to collect her certificate, however, she also experienced a sense of hollowness and disappointment at not being able to celebrate the milestone with others.
The university club organised a celebration at a park for all the graduating students that were part of the group. The team organised a barbeque and then after the meal, they gave gifts to each of the graduating students. The graduating students also shared stories about their time in Adelaide.
After collecting her gift, Jane began to cry as she shared her story. Jane opened up about the mix-up with the graduation ceremony notification and the loneliness she felt when collecting her certificate. She shared how thankful she was for the group, the barbeque and the chance to celebrate her efforts with other students. Jane explained that she could now leave Adelaide with a sense of completeness. The bittersweet moment now for Jane was leaving a loving community where she had built some friendships and felt a sense of belonging.
Do you want to financially partner with Across? Visit sim.org.au/across
Please pray for Jane as she returns back to Myanmar as the country is very different to when she left.
*Name changed to protect identity
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