May devotions

Please enjoy the Daily Devotions for May.
Each day, a new devotion will be listed at the top of this page.


To view previous month: April


May 31

Recently, I have grown more and more aware of just how cluttered my life has become. Not too long ago, we moved my mother into assisted living, and then my husband’s parents out of the home they had lived in for almost 60 years! Being from “that generation,” they saved everything and we’ve had to cull through four previous generations of “stuff!”

It made me pause to think. What are we doing with all this “stuff?” In Hebrews, we are admonished to “throw off everything that hinders.” How much does our “stuff” hinder our effective running? I don’t remember seeing any Olympians carting baggage onto the track. They have pretty much stripped down to become as aerodynamic as possible.

This summer, we watched the Gettysburg 150th anniversary reenactment. More than 25,000 (re-en)actors played out those three dramatic days in our country’s history. As we traversed the “stage,” we chatted with an authentic-looking Confederate soldier who literally had his whole life around him; ready to roll up and sling on his back when he heard the battle cry. He treasured the few things he called his own, including some “new” shoes stolen from a Union supply wagon, a canteen, and the one item every soldier in the Civil War carried -- a Bible. We heard countless stories that reminded us of how Christianity played such a large part in everyone’s life in those days.

In Luke, when Jesus sent the twelve disciples out to preach the Kingdom of God and He healed the sick. He told them “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” With all that fresh in my mind, I am going to spend the next few weeks taking another crack at reducing the clutter in my own life. Not only does the physical clutter drag me down, but the technological clutter of cell phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. all distract my ability to find quiet in the Lord, and to hear and obey His voice.


I pray that you are able to get away from all the “stuff” cluttering your life and to shut off all the distractions of this world, to hear Jesus leading you. Let us march boldly into the battlefield as our Commander leads us, fighting with His power, and unburdened by what has hindered us in the past.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Submitted by: Natasha, Massachusetts

May 30

In our ministry, we invite international students to spend Friday nights in our homes to enjoy fun and fellowship, as well as the opportunity to be exposed to God’s Word. We lead off the evening by thanking God for the food, telling them why we traditionally do that. This helps them see our allegiance to Jesus.

After the meal, we have group introductions, a fun activity like a game or music, and announcements, before breaking up in two separate groups. They can choose between an English discussion group about a relevant topic for new English speakers, and an M:28 discovery Bible study group that provides an opportunity for those open to spiritual things to discover God. Afterwards, we have dessert and hang out until the students feel like going home. Often someone plays the piano or a guitar, and people sit around talking and catching up on life.

Recently, on a typical Friday night, we busily prepared the meal as 30-40 students arrived. Abed, an Arabic student happened to sit down next to a bookshelf filled with a variety of books including commentaries, atlases, books about Japan, China, baseball, etc. But, what caught Abed’s eye that night was a group of books written in Arabic. He picked one up, opened it and started reading. Drawn in, he continued reading the book throughout dinner. This guy is usually the most gregarious, social person in the group, so when the time came for us to gather for the evening’s activities and he asked if he could go into the bedroom and continue reading, I had to do a double take! My first inclination was to keep him “with the group,” but seeing that in his hands he held the Bible in Arabic, I agreed. He read until the night ended! What a powerful book!

I had recently learned from another Arabic friend that many Muslims do not read (biblical) literature in their own language because they are afraid it has been corrupted either in transmission or translation. He told me that in the Quran book of Surah, the Muslim prophet Mohammed speaks well of the “former books” and attributes these books as revealed by the one God, Allah. But many students apparently don’t even know of the existence of these “books” in their own language.

Now that Abed had one of the “former” books in his hands, he didn’t want to let it go. He read words he had never before seen or known about in Arabic. At the end of the night, when he asked if he could take the Arabic Bible home with him, I quickly agreed. What a vivid example of the true power of the word of God Word! 


Do we too often try to “dress up” the message of the Bible to make it more compelling or attractive to non-believers? Do we feel it necessary to come up with a “carrot” or “hook” to draw students to Jesus? When God speaks through His word and opens eyes and ears to His message, that’s all it takes!

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Submitted by: Roy, Texas

May 29
A globe-spanning conversion


Sometimes, a person is not led to Christ by a single witness encounter or even a single person. Occasionally, it takes a number of people over spans of time, even on different continents, to help break through the resistance of a skeptical heart. This is a great testimony to the incredible persistence of a loving God to reach all people.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 Submitted by: source withheld

May 28
Blessed To Be A Blessing


My first week in Seattle, I attended a fellowship program for international scholars like myself. I heard about an opportunity to volunteer at a downtown café for the homeless and recovering addicts. I knew that Americans promote volunteerism and I wanted to know what made it such a big deal. As a dentist in a southern city of China, I had volunteered my time to give exams and provide oral healthcare knowledge for those living in poverty, but most people don’t reach outside their comfort zones to volunteer.

I only knew that the people at the café couldn’t pay their bills, had drug or alcohol abuse problems, or criminal records, so I have to admit, I felt a little afraid and nervous at first. I didn’t know what kind of people I would encounter. I joined about 20 other volunteers preparing food in the kitchen, putting it on plates, and supplying drinks. All the volunteers offered enthusiastic service. It didn’t take long for the experience to put a face on my own prejudice. For most of my life I have always avoided homeless people, mostly out of fear. But the people that I met in that café changed me.

Volunteering there began opening my heart. I talked with a man for several minutes and suddenly saw him in a new light. These individuals are real, ordinary people—stuck in hard places. Some might not have homes to go to, some struggle with addictions or a mental illness, many don’t have jobs. But they don’t fit the stereotype I’ve read about the homeless and downtrodden in the newspaper.

Volunteering changed me. All it really takes is a willing heart. Any time we use our God-given abilities to help others, we fulfill God’s calling on our lives. In reflection, I’m pretty sure I benefited just as much from volunteering as those I helped, if not more. I learned consideration for others. It opened my eyes and heart to realize that God sees us all equally and does not judge us by our position. That helped me develop compassion. Volunteering took me outside myself, and gave me a heart for others. I am so grateful for the opportunity to play a small part in helping make someone’s world a little better.


We get caught up in our own worlds too often, forgetting that many people out there live lives so much more challenging than ours. Take the focus off yourself and reach out into the community around you. You will find yourself blessed far more than you ever expected.


Matthew 6:2
When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.

Submitted by: Stew, Washington

May 27
He Knows My Name

When I first began working with international students at my church, a very shy and quiet young man from Eastern Asia attended every meeting and activity we sponsored. Because we routinely had about 20 students, and he didn’t take center stage, it took me a while to notice and meet him. But one day, when Christine, a new volunteer came to her first meeting, Peleg immediately bonded with the self-described grandmother-figure. Christine seemed to help Peleg cope with loneliness for his family back home.

None of us had ever heard the name Peleg before and when we wondered out loud about it, he told us he had made the name up. But Christine pulled out her Bible and went straight to the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke where she showed Peleg that his “made-up name” showed up as one of the ancestors of Jesus!

This intrigued Peleg and he wanted to learn more about the Bible and Jesus. One day, while attending a discussion group led by Christine, Peleg blurted out, “I’m not good enough to be saved!” Christine waited until after the discussion group had ended and everyone was getting dessert to talk one-on-one with him about his fears. Soon, Peleg had tears streaming down his face, and he invited Jesus into his heart! Even after he moved away, Peleg continued to turn to Christine for guidance with his Christian walk.

I learned that everything in the Bible could be used to reach the unsaved! I will never doubt the genealogies again, as I got to see first-hand how reading his own “made-up name” written in the Bible inspired Peleg to try to learn more about this book. And in turn, he found salvation!


Even the most boring and tedious sections of the Bible can speak into hearts. Let us never skip over portions of the Scripture because we don’t think they apply or are appropriate. May we keep our ears open to hear what God says to us each time we read His word.

II Timothy 3: 16-17
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Submitted by: Vicky, California

May 26
Hope And Joy

Mohammed came from North Africa from a Muslim background. He was married to Maly from Southeast Asia who came from a Buddhist background. They met as undergraduate students in Canada, and French is their common language! They requested a Friendship Partner family when they arrived at their new school.

God drew the families together, and at Easter Maly asked, “Is Easter a religious holiday, or is it just something for kids?”  Spiritual discussions began.

After graduation, Mohammed took a job with a bank in Canada. The friendship with their Friendship Partners continued even over the distance. However, once their first child was born, spiritual interest seemed to grow. Eventually, they asked about the meaning of baptism and Christianity. 

The Friendship Partners sent a Jesus video to their friends. That was all that Maly needed to make a decision to trust Christ. Mohammed had more questions. After weekly phone meetings to discuss the Scriptures, Mohammed also made a decision to trust Christ. He shared the following in an email to his friends.

“Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. The desire of my heart is to live my life for You. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Please bless me and protect me. Teach me to pray. Guide me. Increase my faith. I praise You now for giving me a new life, a new beginning. Lead my family and I to a good church where we can learn Your word and the Father’s will, where we can fellowship with Christians and grow in our knowledge of You. Please bless my wife and our son. Please bless our friend who guided my family and I to your door. Please bless his wife and their children. Love to all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

“It’s a new beginning for all the family,” he continued in his email to his friends. “I am so happy... I wish we could be close to you and your family to celebrate.”


Often, it takes years for truth to penetrate hearts. God works in His way and in His time to change lives.


Matthew 5:14a, 16
You are the light of the world! Let you good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. 

Submitted by: Teri, Arizona

May 25
Walking in Community

Every time we do an M:28 Discovery Bible Study, I learn something new about the elegance in the simplicity of its design. A few years ago, our family had the privilege of doing an M:28 Bible study with a young unbelieving family from a Central Asian Republic, formerly in the Soviet Union.

They had two daughters close in age to our daughter. At first, their girls hardly spoke English. After meeting together for a while, our three girls had become the best of friends, as if they had known each other all their lives. During the M:28 Discovery studies, our daughter saw it as her responsibility to be a “missionary” to the girls while they played. She invited them to our church’s children’s program and when the older daughter became a lover of Jesus, we rejoiced.

Our two sons, adolescents at the time, regularly participated in our M:28 study and took their turns facilitating like the rest of us. Every week the facilitator asks the same questions designed to help people learn the DNA of being a community that discovers God together and loves one another, like a church. The first three questions are, “What are you thankful for this week,” “What is stressing you out,” and “How can this group help you?” This encourages the group to share at a heart level from the beginning.

One specific week, Michael and Kate shared that her stipend for participating in the special U.S. government program for scholars wasn’t enough to cover the expenses for their whole family. They had decided that Michael, a former Internet company executive, needed to get a job. However, with limited English, this could prove challenging. In addition, as part of her program of study, Kate had to find an internship nearby, as they only had one car. After they shared this, we all determined to pray for them and keep an eye out for opportunities that might fit their needs.

The next week, our friends reported to the study with glowing news. Michael had gotten a job at McDonalds and his earnings would cover the gap in their needs. And, Kate had procured an internship at the city government, within walking distance from their apartment. Wow! God is so good!

After this, our Bible study became more important to them. They wanted to get to know this God that helped them so much. Before long, Michael showed his “God awareness” when he responded to a decision they had to make by saying, “We should think about how God would want us to act.”


Our sovereign God truly wants people to know Him. He looks for opportunities to make Himself known through the people and circumstances around us. He shows His power and authority by doing miraculous things and answering our prayers. When we are in community, we have so many more opportunities to witness Him in action!

Acts 2:46-47
They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity  – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Submitted by: Roy, Texas

May 24
A Weekend to Remember

I only met and interacted with Aaron over a weekend retreat in early May. As one of about 30 students, he had the opportunity to spend quality time participating in events and discussions designed to really provoke thought, encourage bonding and sharing and invite reflection. The students that participate in these retreats generally seem to get past the superficial pretty quickly. They usually get a lot out of both listening to what others share, and opening up themselves. Besides that, they always like the activities!

We parted ways after the retreat with Aaron going back to finish the semester at his university and me returning to my home and ministry work. But one day not too much later, I received this text message from Aaron: "Hey Matt. I'm leaving Oregon. Thanks for being part of this amazing journey of mine. It has been so great knowing you. I'm a better person because of this trip. Take care and if you ever visit overseas, please let me know."

Even though the retreat was really the only interaction I had with Aaron, it seemed to have made an impact on his life. I pray that as he moves on to the next chapter of his life, the things he takes away from this one will continue to influence his heart and soul.


Since international students are at a particularly vulnerable place in their lives when they come to the United States, they often take risks and open up to things they might never consider back in their home countries. You never know how moments or brief, intense experiences might change their lives.

Colossians 4:5
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Submitted by: Matt, Oregon

May 23
A Balanced Gospel


Has your personal grasp on the Gospel become distorted by the prism of everyday life? Has your own human perspective caused you to skew the life-changing viewpoint God offers us in His Word? Dependent upon our five senses, we still must never forget that the Good News is bigger than any earthly reality. Relying ever more completely on the Gospel (not our own insecurities) is an essential part of carrying our cross daily.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

May 22
Food for Thought

Many college students have never had the opportunity to engage in adult conversation about specific controversial topics, especially international students. They seem to long to talk about issues and questions they could not or would not broach back at home. And while they might never consider attending a Bible study or more formal programs, they seem very willing to engage in casual conversation over a cup of coffee or lunch, or even over their study time in the library.

What great opportunities these conversations provide for talking about why we believe what we believe, and what Christ and the Bible teach us about real life situations and challenges. I look at these discussions as seeds planted in the minds of busy intellectuals and deep-thinking scholars, providing food for thought as they observe the people and the world around them in a different culture and environment.

Over the past year I’ve had dozens of spontaneous deep conversations with students discussing topics such as alcohol, drugs and addiction; religion (are you born with it, or do you choose it?); pornography; abortion; and premarital sex.

Many of these conversations lead us into discussions about the Gospel, and why we need Jesus, as well as what His death and resurrection mean to us. When we approach it from a real-world angle, the students seem very open to how biblical truths apply to our life situations and questions today. I am so excited to speak into the open hearts that God brings to us from all around the world!


Take the opportunity to speak into people’s lives when they are open, vulnerable or questioning. Encourage conversation and explore truth, always respecting their input and depending on the Lord to soften and open their hearts.

II Timothy 2:23-25
Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Submitted by: Mike, Nevada

May 21
Our President’s Story


Are you willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? The problem is that most of us in the West have not truly been confronted by that choice. However, it is a choice many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world face every day. Across the globe, we all should ask God to break the hold which lesser things wield on our lives so that we may follow Him wholeheartedly.

May 20
Boldness and Opportunity

We had been praying for ministry opportunities for Ashna, one of our students from India, who was a new believer. We specifically prayed for God-given opportunities and boldness in Ashna. God heard our prayer!

Ashna reached out to a friend who was determined to get a divorce. God used Ashna to help her friend and husband in several ways. She introduced them to a DVD series on love and respect. It touched the couple so much that they decided not to get a divorce. They then bought the entire “Love and Respect” series and later both husband and wife accepted Christ. Ashna says they are “in love” again.

Now, the couple are doing ministry with other Indian students at their university. I didn’t rush them, I just prayed. After all, it is all God’s timing, God’s way. This couple is now comfortably involved with ISI outreach to Indian students. The couple invited four young men from India and a Chinese scholar to church. They had prayed all week that the pastor would preach something that would touch their guests. Well, you know the Lord, the pastor preached a sermon about the difference between Hinduism, Christianity, and other religions (but mostly about Hinduism). My friends were delighted!

It is a thrill for me to see how God is using Ashna. She has shared the Gospel one-on-one with at least seven Hindu friends and a Jewish friend (their daughters play together). She taught a VBS class and led three children to Christ and is doing follow-up with them and their families. Ashna was a very shy person, but God could take her shyness and humility and turned it into boldness for His kingdom!


We should never estimate how God can change a person for His purposes. May He use each of us for His glory!

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Submitted by: Lesley, Arizona

May 19
Healing, Inside and Out

During the course of the school year, I had become very close to Sharon, one of the local international students. I was thrilled when she decided she wanted to start attending church with me, but when I arrived on Sunday morning to pick her up, I could see through the entrance window that she still had on her pajamas. She opened the door and proceeded to tell me that she had burned her hand on a pan the night before. When she showed me her thumb, I saw a blister almost covering the entire inside length of her thumb. I had never seen anything like it!

Sharon assured me she would be fine and just needed to go back to bed. “Please go ahead and go to church,” she urged me. I agreed, but made arrangements to come back after the service and get her some medicine. However, when I returned and inspected her thumb more closely, I could tell she needed to go to an Urgent Care Clinic. Once I got her there, the doctor explained that with a burn this bad, they would need to pop the blister, and drain and clean it thoroughly. I prayed throughout the procedure because Sharon almost passed out from the pain. She made it through and we left with instructions to thoroughly clean the wound and apply fresh bandages everyday until she returned a few days later for a follow up visit.

Since Sharon couldn’t face cleaning it herself, I took the opportunity to pray with her every day when we dressed her wound. I not only asked the Lord for healing over her hand, but we talked about Jesus and shared life’s issues together.

Each subsequent visit to the clinic, we saw a different doctor, and finally the third doctor suggested that perhaps Sharon might need a skin graft because the burn had gone so deep. She had proactively made an appointment for Sharon to go directly to a specialist downtown. We prayed as we made the 30 minute drive, asking God to heal her miraculously and to show Himself to her, and prayed for the doctor as well.

The specialist confirmed that the burn was very deep and might require a skin graft, but suggested trying another medication for a few days to see how Sharon’s hand would respond. We continued to pray together during the following days as she took the medication. We had some more amazing talks about the Lord, read the Bible and prayed together daily.

Back at the specialist’s office, he felt pleased with the progress of the healing, but told Sharon that she had to straighten out her thumb. She quickly replied, “Oh no, I can’t, it hurts too much.” “You must,” he told her, “or your thumb will become crippled and you won’t be able to use it.” So, we added exercise to our daily sessions of cleaning, bandaging, sharing and praying; increasing her thumb’s mobility every time.

Over those days, we watched the Lord healing her thumb. After 3 weeks, she could bend and straighten it very well. New tender skin had grown over the burn, but the doctor warned her that she would always have a scar. However, God had other plans, because a few weeks later, her thumb had returned to normal! You could see no signs that she had ever suffered such a terrible burn. I am so thankful that God allowed me to minister to her heart while He worked on her body and soul! I treasure those tender times of fellowship together.


God has different ways of ministering to us. Many times, He works through our circumstances to bring about situations that force us to spend time getting to know Him on a deeper level. Make the most of those opportunities when God reminds you that you are weak, helpless, and dependent on Him. Rest in His loving arms and allow Him to work on you, inside and out.

Psalm 139:13-14

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.

Submitted by: Laura, Colorado

May 18
Seven Degrees of Separation

Our culture has coined the phrase “seven degrees of separation.” This means that it takes just under seven steps to link everyone in the world. For instance, your friend is friends with another friend who knows my mom who knows me.         

The International Center on the campus where we serve is a hub for connection and activity. Students utilize the services of staff there daily for legal purposes and for navigating the waters of being an international. They also use the connection to find jobs and housing.        

One day, the International Center received an email from a woman who had attended the university over thirty years before. She had a court case, needed housing, had various health challenges, and was seeking assistance from the IC. The IC director forwarded her message to me, asking if I could help her.

My response to him was, “Is this for real or is it a scam?”

He replied, “It’s for real.”   

So, I talked with her and discovered her husband had been killed. She’d lost everything. Her health was compromised and her children had suffered greatly as well. On top of all that, she had two impending court dates at the courthouse only three blocks from where I lived. We offered to let her stay with us for two days.

I picked her up at the airport at about 1:30 a.m. and got her to the courthouse by 9 that morning.     

As the IC director and I processed her visit, we marveled at how she had contacted him and how I was brought into the mix. So many people and connections needed to be made before, during, and after her visit. I had tasks to complete even when she left. For it all to come together, we needed much more than seven degrees of separation. God put the pieces of this messy puzzle together.

I have no doubt this appointment was a divine one.


Never doubt God’s ability to bring just the right people into your life at the right time. Even if He has to go through seven degrees of separation—or more!—to do so.

I Corinthians 10:24
Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.

Submitted by: Ruth, Connecticut

May 17
The Rise in Global Spirituality


The world now freely admits its search for truth, but are you willing to declare that you hold the answer? Unprecedented opportunities to share the Gospel beckon us to jettison any reluctance to boldly share our faith. When citizens of our world openly admit their need for God, how can we do any less than tell them about Him?

Ephesians 1:13
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.

Submitted by: source withheld

May 16
Pop Quiz

“It’s Peter—he’s dying!” my wife called out to me as she ran across the neighborhood schoolyard where my daughters and I had been playing ball that Sunday afternoon. We knew Peter as a quiet Iranian believer, a graduate student in his 30s, a husband and a father. We knew he had some respiratory problems, but had no idea of the severity of his illness until we got this shocking summons. We rushed to the hospital. As we drove, my wife shared with me that Peter had apparently chosen to conceal his terminal lung cancer diagnosis because of his wife’s mental instability.

Arriving at the hospital, we discovered four members of the student leadership team from our local university International Christian Fellowship already with Peter, and with his family. Two of them, Asian young men, sat on either side of Peter, reading the Bible to him as he lay semi-conscious, propped up in a hospital bed. He breathed shallowly through an oxygen tube.

The two young ICF women, Asian as well, sat huddled with Peter’s wife and their 6-year-old son Mike. My wife joined these women in ministering to Peter’s family while I pulled up a chair alongside Peter’s hospital bed. I reached out to stroke his arm and he smiled weakly at me. I listened as the young men took turns reading to Peter. He seemed to be soaking in God’s Word.

Realizing they had that situation under control, I went over to the women to ask when our ISI Campus Director would arrive. They told me she was out of town for the weekend, and then turned back to minister to the obviously agitated wife. It suddenly dawned on me that my attention should focus on Mike, Peter’s bewildered and restless young son.

Casually, I asked Mike if he knew how to make paper airplanes. When he admitted he didn’t, I led him down the corridor and around a corner, where we gathered some paper from the nursing station and began our tutorial. We spent the afternoon together exploring the wonders of aerodynamics, while the men attended to Peter as his life ebbed away, and the women continued to care for and comfort his wife.

Peter graduated into the arms of Jesus early that evening, surrounded by student leaders and other ICF friends. The wise young women leaders took Peter’s wife and son back to their apartment and stayed there with them.

As I think back on this time of crisis, I marvel at the swift, mature responsibility taken by the student leaders in the absence of their campus director and mentor. Her investment in them had paid off richly. She had handpicked and discipled them so well that when the time came, they responded beautifully and ministered with compassion and grace! I felt so proud to be part of such a vital student ministry.


You never know when you will be faced with a “pop quiz” and need to put into practice the things you have been learning on your spiritual journey. Be prepared to live out the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus in every day situations, as well as in moments of crisis. Don’t get caught off guard!



II Timothy 4:5

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.


Submitted by: Howard, California

May 15
Baby Steps

By the time Amelia turned nineteen, her parents had worked hard to save enough money for her to study in the United States.  Naturally an intelligent girl, Amelia came from a very poor family in Vietnam who had to sacrifice much to pay for her schooling abroad.  Believing an American education would make a big difference in Amelia’s opportunities, her family made the sacrifice.

From the very beginning of her time in America, Amelia was engaged in activities. At the required orientation for new students, she came right up to our booth and introduced herself, offering to serve as an officer for the international student club!

Friendly and open, Amelia met many others from her home country, as well as other international students. She soaked up the attention she received. Before long, to save some money, she accepted an invitation to room at the home of a young Vietnamese man’s parents.

However, the family dynamics and general life style in that home soured quickly; Amelia found herself ostracized because she came from the northern part of Vietnam, which that particular family considered unacceptable.  

I continued to stay in touch with her throughout her experiences, and one day I got an urgent call from Amelia. Through uncontrollable tears, she told me she had been kicked out of the house and had nowhere to stay.  She also admitted she had started cutting herself; she had reached a crisis point! I felt so glad that I had stayed in touch with her and could reach out to her with the love of Jesus.

I drove Amelia around, looking for possible places that offered help in these kinds of situations. When we stopped for lunch, I gently introduced her to Jesus and the story of the Gospel. She had never heard any of this before and soaked it up! Visibly moved, she prayed to receive Jesus into her heart.

After her commitment, I helped to connect Amelia with a local Vietnamese church and arranged for a lady to mentor Amelia in her new faith. The congregation embraced her and affirmed her.  Unfortunately, her attendance dropped off because of her job, which she desperately needed to pay for her expenses.  In spite of her many obstacles, Amelia grew little by little in her faith the rest of the time she was here.

When it came time for her graduation, Amelia’s mother came to celebrate the occasion with her, and then they both returned to Vietnam. Today, Amelia lives and works in Vietnam as an English teacher and translator. She speaks excellent English! I continue to pray that she grows in her faith in fellowship with a local church in her city.  Although she desires to return to the United States to pursue further education, finances pose too big a challenge for now, so she is learning to be content where God has her.


How fortunate for us that God is patient and compassionate with us. Sometimes, our steps seem painfully small, and we get distracted in trying to meet our own wants and needs. Patiently, however, God walks alongside us---never letting go. May we always strive to grow in our faith, day by day, so that our relationship with Him might grow deeper and deeper, no matter what we go through.

Ephesians 3:16-17

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.


Submitted by: Gene, Colorado

May 14
Out of the Pit

Eight years ago, Nathan arrived in Iowa as a graduate student from East Asia. His family had raised him as a nominal Catholic with Buddhist traditions, so he had limited Bible knowledge. Already a husband, Nathan and his wife, Teresa, faced troubles in their young marriage, which triggered daily anger and frustration in him. Unfortunately, he became abusive; he was arrested and incarcerated.

After his release, Nathan needed to complete a period of probation while living separate from his wife and young son. He faced challenges extending his visa and re-enrolling at the university because of his legal troubles. It was also very hard for him when Teresa began divorce proceedings against him. In his deepest need and despair, I had the opportunity to reach out to him with the good news of Jesus. He agreed to participate in a private Bible study with me and slowly began to grasp God’s sacrifice and offer to restore his wounded heart, marriage, and perspective.

Because of bad habits, Nathan needed to learn new patterns and make a deep character change. Step-by-step, he gained divine insight and started to recognize the possibilities for change. After repenting and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, Nathan began the long road to restoration. It took some years for Teresa to regain trust in her husband, and she felt reluctant to explore the Bible herself. But…God kept working.

My wife and I invited the couple to watch the movie Fireproof with us; we followed it up with a series of studies (for the four of us). God began to soften Teresa’s heart. When they agreed to come with us to a series of talks on marriage by Greg Speck, we witnessed the turning point in their reconciliation. They committed to try their marriage again. The Lord worked in a powerful way, enabling Nathan to demonstrate strength and patience with his wife.

Teresa became curious about exploring what had changed her husband, so she began a personal Bible study with my wife. Meanwhile, God blessed the couple with a second baby. When we visited them after the baby’s birth, they expressed their belief that this baby had come as a direct result of God’s intervention.

Recently, it became apparent to Nathan and Teresa that similar marital problems simmered below the surface in many marriages of their fellow countrymen. In response, they initiated a monthly series of movie nights for eight to ten couples from their own culture. (We only come alongside to help them select morally-appropriate movies and assist with the post-movie discussions.)

In addition, Nathan now faithfully attends weekly M:28 training to prepare himself for future leadership. We have joyfully observed pastoral gifts in this transformed child of God who already reaches out to help other international students with issues he personally faced years ago. To God be the glory!


Reflection We often make poor choices and form bad habits that drag us down and have heavy consequences. However, God does not leave us there to suffer. He hears the cry of our hearts and reaches down to lift us out of the pits we have fallen into. May we never stop reaching out for Him, and may He steady our steps as we walk with Him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

Submitted by: Ed, Iowa

May 13
It’s a Small World After All

Carl, an ISI staff member, moved to Japan to help follow-up with returning students. When the recent tsunami hit, naturally Carl reached out to the devastated area to see how he could help. He came across a small church valiantly struggling to meet the overwhelming needs of the survivors. However, when Carl introduced himself to the pastor, Carl didn't get the warm greeting he expected.

Apparently, this overwhelmed pastor (Pastor K) encountered some bad experiences with cult groups and others who had come just to exploit the situation. So, he greeted any strangers nosing around his church with caution. As soon as Carl said he worked with a ministry called ISI, however, the pastor’s face lit up, and he said, "You're with ISI? We love ISI! Do you know Dan in Oregon?" What a small world!

Pastor K’s story is amazing; he was involved in a gang while growing up in Japan, so his father sent him to school in the United States. By God's grace, he ended up staying with a Christian host family who introduced him to the Lord and to a Japanese ministry—there he met a lovely Japanese young woman who became his wife. Then, halfway around the world, when Pastor K and his wife’s little church struggled to keep up with the problems from the tsunami, God again used ISI to minister into their lives. They were able to get a house fixed up for Pastor K’s family. The house also served as a place where volunteers came and stayed while they fixed up other homes damaged by the tsunami.

From the beginning, God orchestrated their salvation, their marriage, and their ministry; and then, when they needed a message of hope, God orchestrated that, too. Because Pastor K knew ISI’s reputation, he warmly and gratefully welcomed Carl’s help and many were blessed.


Does your reputation open doors or close doors? If someone mentions your name, will those who hear it slam their doors or open their arms? Make sure that the people you interact with have a positive impression of who you are and what you stand for… you never know when it will be important in this small world!


Matthew 7:15-17
Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.

Submitted by: Dan, Oregon

May 12
A Warm Welcome

Weilun’s family had become a minority in their home country and the oppression from the majority population had become almost unbearable. Despite his position as a successful business owner, Weilun’s father felt their days there were numbered. Analyzing the options, they decided that Weilun had the best chance to survive in the U.S. and sent her to study as an business student in Texas.

Working hard, Weilun completed her degree and began her Optional Practical Training (OPT) as an Administrative Assistant at the local gas company. Foreign students on an F-1 student visa cannot work in the U.S. except on campus or as part of their school training. This OPT provides up to one year of post-graduation training so that international students can get practical training in their chosen field.

On Weilun’s first day on the job, an American woman about her parent’s age befriended her. Their friendship quickly grew and when the American woman found out about the terrible conditions Weilun had to endure with her host family, they went directly there to pack her bags. The host family had treated Weilun like slave-labor in their home, but since she had no other options, she’d endured it. But now, her new American friend brought her home and treated her like a daughter!

The American woman had three children—a son off at college, a daughter in high school, and a younger daughter. Weilun took over the son’s room and quickly became a part of the family. Weilun’s American “mom” was a believer and ministered to her in every way possible. Through this woman and the help of a local congressman, Weilun obtained a green card and continued her work in the US.

It didn’t take long for Weilun to come to know Christ personally and experience His transformation. As a result of attending church regularly, she met a wonderful American man and they soon married.

Presently, the first of Weilun’s brothers came to the US to attend college, followed shortly by a second brother. All of them—Weilun, her husband, and the two brothers—lived in a campus apartment together! Weilun and her husband’s witness for Christ soon impacted both brothers and they too came to know Christ. They graduated and moved on to graduate school, followed by OPT and then gratefully obtained green cards. Eventually, they all earned US citizenship.

Finally, Weilun’s parent’s and remaining sister came to join the rest of the family in the U.S. Through the witness of Weilun and her brothers, the whole family came to faith in Christ and they continue to thrive as permanent residents in their adopted country.

Weilun also had an impact on the American “brother” whose room she had inherited in the American woman’s welcoming home. Because of the relationship he built with his Chinese “sister,” he went on to reach out to other international students and has served as ISI staff for the past 25 years!


When one person responds to an opportunity to reach out and minister to another in obedience to the Lord, it can change the lives of many. Success in ministry lies in God’s hands; He simply requires our obedience and faithfulness to His call.

Matthew 25:34-40
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Submitted by: Derrah, Texas

May 11

We met an international student couple not long after their arrival in the United States. They seemed interested in beginning talks about the Bible, so we were happy to oblige. This relationship with David and Mindy continued for several months. Our friendship grew as our Bible studies grew deeper, but then David and Mindy just seemed to get stuck. They could not seem to move forward with any declaration of faith or commitment. Talking like believers, neither David nor Mindy could provide evidence of any conversion.

After dedicating some time and prayer to this odd situation, God gave me an idea! I put together a “quiz”, comprised of a handful of questions like:

·      Do you believe God created the world?

·      Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

·      Do you believe that Jesus died for the sins of all people?

·      Do you believe that you have sinned?

·      Do you believe that Jesus died for the forgiveness of your sins?

David and Mindy worked their way through the page, answering “yes” to every question. Looking over their answers, I said, “David… Mindy… looking at what you claim to believe, I would say you ARE Christians!”

They sat across from me with stunned looks on their faces, trying to assimilate what I had just said. Suddenly, Mindy stood up, faced her husband, and stuck out her hand to shake his. She said, “Congratulations, David! You are a Christian. It’s wonderful to know we are both Christians!”

Not long after that episode, David and Mindy both professed their faith through baptism and have continued to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and grace.


Sometimes, God calls us to be bold and direct; other times, He asks us to be more patient and subtle. We must stay in constant communication with Him to know how best to approach each situation appropriately.

John 20:27-29

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Submitted by: Buell, Oregon

May 10
No Favorites

I have learned that I really have no clue what will sink into the hearts of our students or suddenly become clear to them. A recent M:28 women’s Bible study provided yet another example of that, as Acts 10 spoke into some women’s hearts in unexpected ways. We read through the story of Cornelius and Simon Peter, and while I have read and heard it many times, I could not have predicted the response I witnessed from two Middle Eastern women in particular.

(This was wonderful for me because I saw God move in new and different ways. I had heard testimonies of believers from Muslim backgrounds, explaining how the grace of God and His mercy were revealed in the message of Christ to them, but I personally had witnessed more often the truth of grace and forgiveness affecting the hearts of Asians.)

Recently, as I listened to what women in the group had discovered in the Acts 10 passage, one of the women boldly declared, “This is not Allah!” She went on to explain that Allah has favorites, and she could see that God did not. Because we have learned to listen and allow Scripture to speak for itself, I contained my emotions and said with suppressed excitement, “I see your point.”

The Lord knew that these women would recognize and appreciate the “point” made in verses 34-36, even though I did not have a clue how it would speak to their hearts. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit knows how to reach each of the hearts of the women we minister to. Every week, I leave our study encouraged as He reveals Himself more and more to the women. We continually pray for the Lord’s leading through Scripture we share and love we show to these women.


Stay connected with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Be available as He works in the hearts and lives of others; He will open eyes and ears as you explore the words He has for all.

Acts 10:34-36
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”


Submitted by: source withheld

May 9
Invite His Investigation

Raising financial support takes a missionary to the end of one’s self. Many warned me at the beginning that this very tough journey would bring much-needed transformation. I remember thinking, "Not for me." I have definitely struggled over the years to raise support.

While in this process of support-raising, I met another missionary in partnership development, and we talked about the mystery, the challenge, and the wonder of support-raising. I told him I felt baffled and discouraged. His words of encouragement from the Scripture led me to the core of my problem---my belief system.

Recently, God told me to let people know that I needed a significant amount to make up for a deficit in my support, so I could start the school year as full-time campus staff. I asked my support network whether or not they could financially provide. Meanwhile, God asked me, "Do you believe in my goodness and intent to bless you?"

As well, I recently celebrated a milestone birthday and kept hearing the message: God wants to bless you. For whatever reason, I have struggled to believe this for most of my Christian journey. I have always believed He'd get me through (do the bare minimum) but not overwhelm me with generous loving-kindness and acknowledgment of my heart's desires. He exposed this offensive thought, and He addressed it. Boy, was that good! I confessed to God and felt a radical transformation in my world; He also blessed me greatly. Within days, I began receiving support donations. The deficit quickly shriveled up and almost went away.

I love the words of Psalm 139 because they are real. They speak the truth about our yearning to be known. They proclaim our offensiveness yet remind us that we can trust Him to help us amend our situation. Thank God for His intervention! 


It can feel scary to let God search our hearts. His probe can expose things we may not really want to look at too closely, let alone work on. However, when we trust Him to help us plow through it, we can experience His grace and compassion in new and exciting ways!

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Submitted by: Becky, Montana

May 8
Guard Your Heart

Nalisha won my heart from the first ministry event she attended. Living just one apartment building over from each other, our connection began growing by leaps and bounds. A simple handmade invitation asking her and her roommates to come over for dinner and a movie began melding our formal relationship into a personal friendship.

As I invited Nalisha into my personal life, a bridge of trust was built, and she began sharing more of her life. Sharing our lives divinely transitioned into sharing our hearts with each other; I later began referring to her as “my sister.” She became a part of my family here in the United States, and I became a part of her family in India, via Skype. With the foundation of a sister friendship and familial trust, I now had a platform for speaking truth into her life.

One day, Nalisha shared with me that she was at the age and stage when her parents were beginning to arrange a marriage for her. Even though her family was in the beginning stages of planning, it quickly became evident that God did not want me to just take a passive role of hearing and watching in this situation. I needed to be a prayer warrior and a voice of truth for Nalisha.  The Lord built a strong bond between Nalisha and me “for such a time as this.”

The marriage match for Nalisha was based upon both Nalisha’s and a particular young man’s parallel profiles: same caste and education level, complementing physical features, the right marriage age, etc… The family introductions were made, and the main focus was on the young couple’s profiles. The families enjoyed the visit as they learned more about each other’s family values. Then, the couple was given a few weeks to talk privately and get to know each other.

It did not take long for Radhak’s (the young man) true person to surface. He wanted to rush into the marriage, disregarding Nalisha’s wishes to take time to really bond with each other. He also expressed clear intentions of deceiving his family in another matter. As Nalisha’s “big sister”, I could not remain silent. I had already been talking to her about looking beyond his profile to see what his inner person was like. God gave me a situation to show her the clear evidence of his heart.

I was able to explain to Nalisha how his plan to deceive his family revealed a deceitful heart; I told her I wanted her to marry an honest man. If he schemed against his own family, then he would likely lie to his wife, as well. Another Christian friend and I shared that we had been praying for her since we first heard the marriage arrangement process began.

Through this real-life situation, Nalisha has been learning truths about marriage, especially as we have had discussions with God’s Word embedded. I truly believe that God is sovereign enough to work through the traditional marriage arrangements, and He can match Nalisha with a great man. I praise God for the opportunity to help her look through the lens of God’s Word and guard her heart!


“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” Proverbs 4:23. Invite the Spirit to search your heart, to point out anything that offends Him or anything that leads you away from Him. God will lead you along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24). As you go throughout your day, be mindful of the things that take your heart’s energy and focus away from the Lord.

1 Samuel 16:7
The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.  

Submitted by: Emily, Texas

May 7
Sowing Seeds Around the World

I got a call from the church secretary informing me that a student from Africa had come in asking for a Bible. They referred Geoffrey to me and our ISI program. Geoffrey’s time in California was short, and he only visited our Bible study a couple of times, but we continue to feel his presence here years after his return home.

Originally, Geoffrey came to study organic farming at the world-renowned agro-ecology center at our university. As the founder and director of an educational training center in Africa, he has visited many international study programs. While in California, I helped him complete a proposal for an educational exchange program whereby our agro-ecology center would send graduates to his training center for a semester or school year, and his would send one or more to our center.

“Geoffrey, what will the interns do at your center?” I asked. “Train the farmers, of course,” he answered patiently. “How many farmers come to the center?” “Two thousand a year.” My jaw dropped. His center trains farmers in organic agricultural techniques, and solar and rural technology. In addition, he sponsors AIDS orphans and caretakers and sponsors more than 100 children to attend elementary, high school and college.

He shared with me that the village had gotten together and decided what they needed to do, and since Geoffrey is the son of their tribe’s leader, he was chosen to do it. “I have friends who go work for the government and make a lot more money. They have a nice life, a nice car. But my people need my help. I feel God wants me to do this.” So he does it.

Every time he makes a trip somewhere, his village prays for him, and for the city he travels to, and those in the city that he travels to.

Now, many years later, he has made numerous trips to our city to raise support of various kinds for his educational center, as well as collect bags of seed, solar powered flashlights, soccer uniforms and other equipment. His most recent project has him working to bring a delegation from his city to be-friend our city through the Sister City program. This program seeks a two-way benefit; to develop friendships with one another around the world, and to learn from each other in mutual exchanges between organizations.

Our exchange works through many local organizations, including the school district, the Chambers of Commerce, various clubs, and the universities. A fair trade program has begun conversations for developing an import program between our cities, and the local community college wants to put on dramatic performances using delegates as speakers.

Ironically, the majority of people in his city consider themselves Christians, and churches orchestrate most of the efforts. The majority of people in our city, however, are NOT Christians. But, those Christians halfway around the world have begun influencing our city—our city government and our business leaders, for Christ. What a fabulous twist for our ISI ministry!

“Polay polay,” Geoffrey says in his native language, meaning “little by little.” His many efforts over the years to serve God and the people of his homeland by developing friendships with supporting groups here are slowly paying off -- for both our cities!


Many times we think of ministry as an official job title instead of realizing that ministry can be part of everything we do. Think outside the box. What do you already do that you could do to the glory of God if you just changed it up a little bit? What differences could what you do make “polay polay?”


Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Submitted by: Peggy, California

May 6
Mentored to Mentor

I first met Irene, a young Korean woman, in an English Conversation Group on campus. Very quiet and hesitant to speak, Irene blamed her “poor English.” After a few sessions, she hesitantly approached me to ask if I would correct her English essay. When I took it home to analyze, I found a very neat paper, written in small and flawless script, with much better grammar than most native English speakers would use!

I marked a couple vocabulary words that made logical sense, but sounded a bit awkward and returned the paper to Irene the following week. She thanked me politely and handed me her next composition, also precisely and flawlessly written. So began our relationship.

As I got to know Irene, I learned that she was newly married and highly educated as a nurse. She and her husband planned to spend at least the next five years here as he earned his PhD in Electrical Engineering. They had arrived as Christians and together visited local churches, but found it hard to understand and follow the English sermons and conversations.

Irene felt she needed to take good care of her husband first, but his long days and nights working/studying, meant she had a lot of empty time. Like many wives of graduate students and scholars, her visa would not allow her to get a paid job in the United States, so she wanted to find other ways to fill her time.

Rather than staying home and feeling lonely, Irene plunged into volunteering at a local nursing home, meeting with a Conversation Partner and joining up with a young Friendship Partner family. She also attended ISI activities and the Bible study. Although she didn’t speak up much unless she was sure of the correct answer, Irene soon began hosting the ISI Bible study in her own apartment. She faithfully attended the Ladies Tea, gave rides to other wives and consistently helped with most ISI events, as well as extending invitations to other international students and their wives.

What a wonderful ambassador she has become! She intrinsically understands the people she reaches out to. They are enjoying a golden opportunity as wives of highly successful graduate students and scholars at a prestigious university in a lovely seaside city. But Irene knows that these transplants need more – they need friendships.

When we discovered that one of the wives was expecting a baby, Irene and I put together a baby shower for the couple. She likes to make exact, precise plans and carry them out, whereas I am more spontaneous, with lots of ideas and many changes on the fly. It didn’t take long for us to adjust to each other and learn to work together harmoniously. How wonderful to have someone to work alongside me and help carry the load! Irene also takes advantage of her relationship with a steady stream of international friends to extend invitations to many.

When Irene and her husband had their own baby, she found herself going stir-crazy at home with her high-energy daughter, so she approached me about applying to volunteer with ISI to continue a meaningful role in serving others. I instantly accepted.

We experimented with how best to use her time and finally settled on having her organize an English conversation group, much like the one where we first met. Irene enrolled in a university course to learn to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and began leading our Conversation group while supervising two American volunteers, and completing the certification program.

In addition to functioning as a wonderful wife and mother, Irene has also developed excellent leadership skills and introduced many international students to ISI, and to Christ. But now that her husband has completed his PhD and is applying for a faculty position elsewhere, our days together are numbered. Irene plans to continue her growth in leadership by organizing similar English conversation groups and practice her hospitality in her next hometown.



Volunteers may not start out looking like natural leaders, teachers or organizers, but take the time to invest in them and they could develop into valuable resources and colleagues.

II Timothy 2:2
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Submitted by: Peggy, California

May 5
I Didn’t See That Coming

God often provides in unexpected ways. After eight years as Area Director of a successful ministry in New York, I started praying for God to raise up someone to work at Cornell University. One day as I was driving, God laid it on my heart to be the answer to my own prayer. I deliberated and considered it for almost a year because I knew that the move would require a great leap of faith.

We had raised full support in our current location and would lose a substantial portion of support that tied directly to that area if we moved. Our three oldest children (triplets) would begin college the following year, and that didn’t seem like a very good time to change a stable income. After much prayer and discussion with my wife and children, as well as other ISI leaders in the area and several key people around Cornell University, God confirmed the call.

The biggest obstacle for us involved trusting Him with our finances. Not wanting to make an irrational decision, we thought through what it would take to make it work financially. We needed to allow at least a year, probably two, to replace the support we would lose due to the move. I assumed we would need some start-up funds to draw upon, as well as some of our local supporters to carry over their contributions for a year after our move. We communicated this need to our faithful friends and donors, and prayed.

In affirmation, God did provide the needed start-up funds and carry-over support for the first year. As usual, God had a few tricks up His sleeve, for the source of one large portion of the start-up funds came out of left field.

About four years prior, a small church in central New York (whose pastor I had befriended) started supporting us monthly. With about only thirty people in the congregation, this church faithfully supported three missionaries. The church rented space but had started a fund with the hope that someday they could purchase their own church building. I visited the church once a year to preach and provide a ministry update.

Just a few months before our move, while we earnestly prayed for God to provide extra start-up funding, we received an unexpected letter with a large contribution from this tiny church. I read the letter with interest, wondering how this small church could possibly have given such a large amount. As it turned out, the church had abandoned their plans for owning a church building and decided to divide the money they had accumulated in the building fund between their missionaries. This decision had nothing to do with our move, yet God used it to provide for us at just the time we needed it. Interestingly, we did not get word about the large gift until after we had committed, in faith, to trust God for the finances.

God always provides in amazing ways and often from the most unexpected sources!


Taking a step without being able to see what lies ahead requires a lot of courage. We want to know that everything will turn out just the way we want it to, but that is not what God promises. Rarely do things turn out the way we would script them, but God always provides. Like the Israelites, be sure to commemorate the ways God has provided in your life, so that when you feel anxious and uncertain, you will have reminders of His provision.


II Corinthians 9:8
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Submitted by:
David, New York

May 4
Graduations and Celebrations

My family and I have served in the ministry of international students for over twenty years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I have so many stories to tell and so many memories I’ve cherished along the way.

In the university where we serve, we have gone to graduations at least twice a year. The truth is, each graduation is pretty much the same. And I’ve been to more than forty of them. That’s a lot of ceremonies that last over three hours, plus the parties afterwards.

Each time I drag myself to another graduation ceremony, I sense a growing lilt to my step as I draw closer to celebrating my student friends’ successes. They did it. They finished the work despite years of separation from family, friends, and country. They hung in there through homesickness, financial woes, successes and failures, and everything in between.

At times, students catch me off-guard with their tears as they thank me for just showing up to celebrate with them. This humbles and convicts me. I may be the only family they have here in this foreign land. I’m their only bit of familiarity and, sometimes, sanity amidst the strange happenings in their lives. I’m their pillar of faith in times of uncertainty.

Now, when I’m invited to a graduation ceremony, I take joy in the invitation. I know it’s another chance for God to be at work.


Take joy in the invitations in your life—even those that don’t excite you. God looks for opportunities for us to minister . . . to celebrate with the world a success of seismic proportion!


Ecclesiastes 8:15
So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

Submitted by: Ruth, Connecticut

May 3
More Than I Bargained For

Working with international students means being open to possibilities. So when a visiting scholar, his pregnant wife, and their daughter came to her campus for a year, Ruth readily agreed to help out. At first, this simply involved giving their daughter piano lessons and trying to answer the precocious little girl’s many questions.

But then the couple had a bigger request.

They asked Ruth if she’d go with them to an obstetrician consultation. Knowing she could help explain things, Ruth consented. The doctor went over several issues with them, from how caesareans are handled in the United States to tubal ligation. More specifically, the doctor wondered if the mother wanted to have her tubes tied during the c-section.

Ruth knew she needed to make sure they truly comprehended what the doctor meant as their decision would affect the future of their family. When they told her they understood, Ruth thanked God for giving her the right words.

Months later, Ruth held their baby daughter. But when the father’s time as a visiting scholar was up, the family returned to their home country.

Fast forward five years. That’s when Ruth received word that this couple’s daughter wanted to meet the American holding her in a baby picture. So Ruth traveled to their country; then made the exhausting, over-the-mountains trip to their city in a crowded, slow-moving train. But it was worth it! She had a joyous reunion with this precious family! And what had started as a willingness to help with small things turned into an opportunity to form friendships that will last.



Always be open to opportunities that take you above and beyond what you signed up for. You never know how God will use you to bless others!

Psalm 119:143
I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

Submitted by: Ruth, Connecticut

May 2
Make A Difference

The laughter of students filled our house as a lively group of us celebrated our last international student dinner of the school year. We had made new friends from all over the world and the time had come to say goodbye. As the evening drew to a close, Sid, a student from China, approached Dave, one of our ISI Friendship Partners and announced, "I'd like to go to church. I've never been before. You Americans are so kind and generous… I'd like to go to church like you."

So the very next Sunday, Dave and his wife picked Sid up for church. Afterwards, Sid peppered them with questions indicative of how carefully he had listened to everything going on around him, "Who is the Father? Who is Jesus? Who is Peter? Who wrote the Bible?"

As he left, the church had given Sid a copy of the Gospel of Luke. Watching him pour over it, Dave encouraged Sid to read it over the summer. Sid eagerly agreed, letting Dave know that when he returns to school in the fall, he would like to go to church again.

Closing out the school year by witnessing such open and enthusiastic interest definitely encouraged our whole ISI team as we began to shift our focus from one year to the next. It affirmed for all of us the validity of our vision, "to see every international student befriended, led to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and discipled for His service!" 


What a wonderful witness it is to send others out from our homes talking about the love and care they experienced from Christians. Live your life today in such a way that those who watch you and interact with you want to know what makes you different.

Romans 1:8
Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world.

Submitted by: Gayle, California

May 1

Zechariah 9:16-17, 10:1
On that day the Lord their God will rescue His people,
    just as a shepherd rescues his sheep.
They will sparkle in His land
    like jewels in a crown.
How wonderful and beautiful they will be!
    The young men will thrive on abundant grain,
    and the young women will flourish on new wine.
Ask the Lord for rain in the spring,
    for He makes the storm clouds.
And He will send showers of rain
    so every field becomes a lush pasture.


Each spring, God grants us new life after the dead of winter stripped the earth bare. And each day is a new day, may our eyes always be open to the new things God has to show us!