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

To view previous month: September

October 23
From Café to Court

My friendship with Madame X began more than 20 years ago. Flash back to a visiting foreign law scholar and an aspiring news reporter assigned as English conversation partners through my church. I’m not sure how much help I provided with her English, but I did share my Christian faith and discussed Bible verses about God’s laws since she was a law student.

I don’t remember what we actually did during those two years; obviously nothing spectacular, but taking into account my meager wages from four part-time jobs, we met for lunches at cheap cafes and forged a friendship that has lasted more than a quarter of a century!

She took great interest in my writing, and sometimes accompanied me to the newspaper offices, observing aspects of my life and community. “Peggy, you work too hard,” she scolded me.  As an aspiring reporter, I cranked out three articles a week (on a manual typewriter), and in her country, news reporters got a full time government salary to write one article per month. She felt rather like my big sister.

Our career trajectories landed us in very different places, but we both maintained a strong dedication to our dreams to help people. She became head of her law institute. I got married, had three children and got involved with ISI. We have enjoyed several visits in the years since our English conversation partnership.

On this side of the ocean, she has visited my comfortable, but modest beachside home and we met in a San Francisco luxury hotel. I have visited her country twice where she has attained such a high level in her national government that I wait outside her building while armed guards patrol the perimeter.

During her visit to my home, Madame X came to church with me, a first for her. We went to my Sunday school class, but since the leader was absent that day, we watched a video about family relationships. I cringed at what a lame impression of our church she must be forming. We walked over to the worship service and she observed everything carefully. As we walked out to the car after the service, she summarized, “Church is nice, it teaches you how to be a good person.”

Later, I heard that Madame X had been exploring Christianity and decided to pray to accept Christ that very afternoon. I did not see her again for a few years, but heard about her rising career in her country. Now, as a leader at the very highest level of her government, she has successfully written laws that improve the legal rights of common laborers all over her country.

As the “little sister,” I am so proud of the powerful woman Madame X has grown into and so honored to have played a small part in her run to the halls of power, as she continues to forge ahead on God’s path for her.


Reflection:

Friendships and common interests can create strong bonds that reach across time and culture. Don’t ever minimize what God might be doing in and through you just because you don’t see it happening. Let God breath and live through you; you never know who might be impacted.



Psalm 119:46

I will speak to kings about your laws and I will not be ashamed.

Submitted by: Peggy, California

October 22
The Big Question

Ben, a Chinese international student, had shown interest and curiosity about Christianity since I had met him. He raised many questions and seemed to consider the answers very carefully as he evaluated these new ideas. Ben did not strike me as the kind of person that did anything quickly or spontaneously. He seemed like a careful, thoughtful man with a lot going on in his head.

When he came to me with his “big” question, I could see the turmoil it caused him. He began by telling me that he understood and appreciated much of what Christianity taught, but he could not accept a God who allowed so much suffering. He wanted to know how this fit with the image of God as a loving, compassionate Father.

Although I can’t remember my exact response to Ben, I do remember sharing that we live in a broken world; God does not “control” our actions or consequences. I explained that God wants us to grow and mature through the suffering we endure; He does not want to leave us where we are. I also shared that our hard times increase our awareness of Him, and encourage us to rely on Him to get us through rather than relying on our own abilities.

After several months of studying Scripture together, as well as attending a local Chinese church, Ben made a profession of faith. He told me that the discussions we had had regarding this “big” question had really helped him turn the corner and accept Christianity as the truth.


Reflection:

We cannot fully see or understand why things happen the way they do. We have to walk in faith, trusting that God holds us close, even when we walk through difficult circumstances. His intentions for us are loving and designed to grow us more like Jesus.


Romans 5:3-5
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.


Submitted by: Margaret, Massachusetts

October 21
I Know the Plans

I used to be very confused about my future. “What am I going to do? Where am I going?” My major was biology, but why? I didn’t have an answer. My friends laughed at me because it is very hard for a biology major to get a job in Singapore. Everyone goes into finance or business, and I wanted to do that too, but I couldn’t decide if that was a good idea. Was I suited for doing business?

I really needed a person to help me and guide me, but I had nobody to ask. I loved my parents, but neither they, nor my friends could help me. I had about decided to defer my studies for a year and travel, but just at that point I met a professor who asked me to be her research assistant. Over the year we worked together, she became more of a friend to me than a professor or boss. We attended church together, did bible study together and even exercised together. We spent many hours of work and free time together, and I told her everything.

Working as her research assistant, I did special education research and translated a book for parents of children with special needs. I went to girls and boys homes to meet with troubled kids. I talked to them and told them no one is perfect and that their whole life didn’t have to be ruined because of a wrong choice or decision. I reminded them that they still had a future. And while I helped them, I helped myself.

My professor told me that I was blessed by God and that He had a great plan for me. During that year I realized that I could be a good researcher, and that I could be a useful and helpful person. I saw that helping others would bring me true joy and meaning.

My professor told me that when she had studied in Texas for 10 years as an international student, someone had reached out to her, loved her and led her to Christ. This created the desire in her to reach out to other students and share the good news of Jesus with them. Thanks to her, now I know that life does not have to revolve around money. God has a plan for each one of us and He can help us to live meaningful lives. I decided to follow in my professor’s footsteps and help students too.

I am working on my PHD now and even though it is not easy, I know that with God nothing is impossible and I want to fulfill His plan for my life. I still have a long way to go and I will need to keep improving myself and growing more and more in Christ.


Reflection:

How often we charge headlong into our own plans, neglecting to listen and watch for the ways God might be directing our steps. God doesn’t always make His plans obvious, so we must keep ourselves tuned in to hear and see his guidance as it unfolds.


 

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the
Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Submitted by: Kaili, New Zealand

October 20
Living, Breathing Faith

For weeks I’d invited Ru, a doctor and professor from Beijing, to attend our on-campus Bible study. But because of his busy schedule, he continually had to turn me down. So imagine my surprise when he finally showed up!

Our study of the book of Romans at that time was, naturally, infused with the message of salvation. Ru joined us just as we were delving into chapter three and the topic of sin.  The next week, a second prayer was answered when he came back. Now on Romans 4, he stopped us at one point and asked what “righteous” meant.

I explained how only Jesus’s blood, shed on the cross, could take away our sins and make us righteous in the eyes of a holy God. Jesus’s resurrection opened the way for us to spend eternity with the Father.

What a blessing to share the spiritual truth of God’s love with this man. Ru has since returned to China to join his wife and son, but we still pray the seeds of love we planted will take root in his heart and change his life!

      

Reflection:

Always stay open to how God might use you. And if you are praying for someone’s salvation, never give up! The love you show and share today will have an impact for the kingdom. God’s Word has a way of staying with someone. . . .


1 John 4:16
God is love, and all who live in love, live in God.

Submitted by: Karen, California

October 19
Life in the Desert!

Toward the end of the spring semester, we were down to only one student still attending our International Wives group. Although we continued to feel a strong commitment, we fought discouragement because we wanted to reach so many more with this ministry. We enjoyed sweet times with Eileen, the remaining Korean woman with whom we developed a delightful friendship, but most of our students had already returned home. Eileen didn’t seem to exhibit a real hunger to know the Lord; just more of a desire for meaningful friendship. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed our friendship, but the Lord had to keep reminding me that I cannot save anyone.

In Isaiah, it talks about how the trees that spring up in the desert will point directly to God’s great love and power because there is no question that we could make them grow there. So, I see my friendships with the international students—as a tree springing up in the desert and pointing to God’s love and power. When people wonder about our love and care for them, may it point them directly to God’s love for them.

After Eileen returned to Korea, I received this letter filling me with hope and joy: 

“Nowadays, I’m reading the Bible. (Not in English!) So, [the] more I read it, the more I like Jesus. Actually, I tried to read [the English] Bible that you gave me. But I couldn’t do it without your help. It’s much more difficult by myself than I had expected. I felt once again how helpful you were to me. Thanks for everything. I will try to read the Bible in English again as soon as I can!”  

My heart rejoiced to read these words indicating that Eileen did in fact get more from our times together than just friendship. I keep her letter with me now and thank God for this tree miraculously springing up in the desert. I give Him all the glory. I pray that He will give Eileen an understanding of His Word and a love for Jesus. I pray that He may continue to work in her life and I pray that I will continue to be faithful and faith filled.



Reflection:

Sometimes we cannot see what work the Lord is doing underground. We might grow weary or discouraged because we don’t see results from our efforts. Then one day, we get a glimpse of His hand at work, and we marvel because we underestimated Him again. What a great reminder that it isn’t what we do that makes a difference, but how He uses us to accomplish His purposes.


Isaiah 41:19-20

I will plant trees in the barren desert—cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine. I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means—that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.

October 18
Prepare to be Blessed

ISI campus staff in Kansas told us about a Chinese student who had participated in their program and was now transferring to Oregon. They said, “Prepare to be blessed.” This new student sounded very positive. Sure enough, Rachel fit the bill—the kind of student you always hope to have in your ministry. Other students seemed drawn to the love and grace of God exhibited through her life. She always extended invitations to new students to join her at the local Chinese church and our Bible study for internationals.

I must admit I felt a little reluctant when Rachel asked if she could join our weekly meeting with the Muslim students on campus. These were all Muslim men, not known for recognizing the value God places on women. I thought they might not appreciate her participation in the group. She argued, "It's just that I've been studying Arabic, and I would love to have the chance to meet some Arab students." (She speaks five languages fluently!) So, I agreed (a little grudgingly), and she came to our meeting. She continued to impress me with her insightful questions, as well as the humble and respectful way she presented them. By the end of the meeting, our Muslim friends encouraged her to come back the following week!

From the first time we first met her, Rachel often asked us to pray for her parents to come to faith. We felt privileged to join her as we celebrated her mother accepting Christ first, followed by her father. What an honor to meet them when they came for Rachel’s graduation and to witness their baptism at the local Chinese church.

Rachel has moved on to enroll at a university in Louisiana, hoping to work with Wycliffe's Summer Institute of Linguistics program. As we bid her good-bye, we did so knowing that the people of Louisiana were in for a blessing.


Reflection:

Wouldn’t we all like to be introduced by the words, “Prepare to be blessed”? May the way we live our lives and conduct our interactions bless the lives of those around us.



I Timothy 4:12
Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

Submitted by: Dan, Oregon

October 17
Discover!

What a fabulous ministry we have enjoyed with the Wives’ Club! We just threw another baby shower for the second member of our group welcoming a new baby into her family. We should get pretty good at it since we have two or three more women expecting within the next few months! What a wonderful blessing for these women far away from their homes and extended families to experience a surrogate family dynamic here in California. Sharing such an exciting and life-changing event together has really created a beautiful bond among us. We have recently started discussing whether we need to host two separate groups – one for wives without children, and one for wives with babies and young children so that everyone feels the kinship and camaraderie they need during these meeting times.

During our recent study of the book of Ruth, Paula, an international wife from Belgium led the Discovery study a number of times. She said to me, “I would love to do the same kind of Bible study with my husband in our house when we will go back to Belgium for good. People need to know and to read the Word of God, and I think it's usually easier to understand when we think about it together.”

How exciting to hear this international wife verbalize what we try so intentionally to model for them! We pray not only for this woman, but all these wives to internalize what they learn, and spread their excitement and appreciation for studying the Bible with others in their home countries!

 

Reflection:

Treasure the moments like this when others begin to understand and appreciate digging into the Scriptures! Always encourage them (and yourself!) to ask questions to seek truth and application in what they read.

 

II Timothy 1:13-14
Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the previous truth that has been entrusted to you.

Submitted by: Kim, California

October 16
The Pace of Change


Reflection:

We must continue to adapt in this world while maintaining our radical commitment to Christ. When we do this in humility and submission to God’s leading, we will find tomorrow’s ever-shifting landscape truly a land of opportunity. Even if you are not on the front line, you can still present the Gospel vibrantly in new ways to the people around you.



Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

October 15
A Thin Little Book

Martha grew up in Taiwan, raised by loving parents who practiced ancestor worship. She came to study in the United States and was exposed to Jesus through Bible study, conversational English class, other ISI activities, and her host family. After Martha returned to her home country, we had the opportunity to visit her in Taiwan. We weren’t sure if we should, but we decided to leave a small New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs for her as a gift.

The following year, we noticed Martha had begun quoting verses from Proverbs on her Facebook page! She shared her story with us later:

“I returned to Taiwan and immediately started working two teaching jobs. It was too much; I quit. After a short break, I told myself I would take any job. I felt I could get answers or strength from the Bible, so I used the Bible you left and an old Chinese version stuffed in my drawer.

“The night before beginning a new job, I knew I wouldn’t sleep well, so I came up with an idea to ask God to give me a good sleep so I could do my best the following day. And HE HEARD ME. I had the best sleep ever! It surprised me that God heard me even though I didn’t know Him very well.

“I started reading the Bible more regularly, because I already knew I could find the answers when I'm confused, angry, sad, or even hopeless. I could find strength in that thin little book. I actually loved Psalms and Proverbs very much. They were just beautiful, concise, and really spoke to my soul. I started reading from there and then went to the other books. It's a lifelong book that I can read and think on all the time!

“I felt so grateful that in my weakness, God made me stronger. Those were the longest three months I ever had in my life, but He was there with me. He listened to my complaints, cured my anger and comforted my soul. I wanted to know why. I felt I needed Jesus in my life. I wanted to know more about Him, so I started going to church and attending discussion classes and Bible studies.

“I read the Bible that you left me every day now, and I am finding out that the answers to all those things I have ever doubted are in this pocket thin little book! I thank the Lord for this wonderful gift! Now when I think about it, I think God sent those people who encouraged me during that difficult time. He wanted me to try harder, to wait longer, to know more about my own limits, and most of all, to lean on Him.

“One day, on my computer I found the song ‘Amazing Grace’. It sounded so powerful. I listened, read the lyrics, and cried. I knew I needed Him at that moment. Even though I didn’t feel like a bad person, I wanted to be a better person. He comforted my burdened soul and gave me courage, faith and direction to cope with everything in life. Even if I fail, He still loves me.”

Martha got baptized on Easter Day! She continues to grow in the Lord and prays now that her family will come to know Jesus too. What happened to Martha shows that God’s Word is indeed alive and powerful.

Reflection:

What place does God’s word play in your life? Do you read it only when you feel like it? Or do you read it because you love Him and hunger for his word? Reading God’s Word is part of our continuing faith in Jesus. The Bible is our daily bread!


Isaiah 55:11

It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Submitted by: Josie, Oregon

October 14
Willing to Talk

I have spent the last two years meeting monthly with a group of missionaries to pray for the Muslims on our campus and around the world. I believe those prayers have resulted in our finding open and prepared hearts among these students. Recently, when we met with a leader of the Muslim Student Association to see if Muslim students would like to get together on a regular basis to discuss the evidence for Islam and Christianity, he responded, "I would cut a class to go to a meeting like that. School is important, but this is life."

When we asked these students how often they would like to meet, once a week or twice a month, one of them said, "If we met only twice a month, and I missed a meeting, it would be a whole month before I saw you guys again. You're the first Americans we've met who want to talk about God. We should meet every week."

"We want you to teach us the Bible. We are so grateful that you take time out of your busy lives to meet with us. We have no one to teach us what the Bible has to say and we don't know how to approach it," they said.

Although we feel encouraged by the positive responses we have received from the Muslim community, we cannot forget that this is a process. Right now, the Muslims on campus just want to know what we believe and why we believe it. We have developed a friendship, and they trust us to share our faith openly and to listen respectfully when they share theirs. The process may take some time, but we are encouraged by their eagerness to learn.


Reflection:

Only God's Spirit can overcome the cultural barriers and spiritual blindness of others. We can be faithful to share His message of love and pray for God for open hearts and minds.



Romans 10:14
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

Submitted by: Dan, Oregon

October 13
A God of Relationship

One of our returnees, Alex (from Spain), came to visit me. He was a typical atheistic, liberal European when he came here. Over his four years in America, we became good friends; he has been back here to visit twice. While he was here most recently, we had some special times together as we discussed how personal God really is.

One special time was a lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant that we both enjoy. The atmosphere led Alex to ask some things about Islam, and how it differs from Christianity. What a wonderful moment it was of sharing! I told him that we can know God personally. I explained that God is not a separate, unknowable God (as Muslims believe); rather, He is a God of relationship who desires a relationship with each of us. I told him God made us for relationship, and Alex acknowledged that relationships are what count most in life. He said he knew I must have told him about that personal relationship with God before, but that day was the first time he really heard it. I was stunned and excited by his response.

After Alex went home, I sent him an email thanking him for visiting me. He said our conversation at the restaurant had been especially meaningful to him. I hope to see him during my trip to Spain this summer; may God continue to move in his heart.


Reflection:

People who do not know the Lord do not understand that Christians worship a God who is personal and reachable. They don’t understand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Explaining this and demonstrating it with our testimonies and lifestyles can make all the difference.



John 15:13

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

October 12
Far From Home

When Helen’s airplane landed in Seattle and so many unfamiliar faces, speaking an unfamiliar language, rushed past her to the baggage claim, she stood completely still. Suddenly, she felt totally alone in a strange land, away from her family and friends. Only 17 years old, far from her country and living on her own for the first time, she felt scared and overwhelmed.

The loneliness plagued Helen for a long time, until she made her first American friend, Franny. The first American stranger to talk to her, Franny brought Helen with her to Talk Time, where she met international students many from different cultural backgrounds. Gradually, Helen started to feel the love and warmth extended to her by all the volunteers and her guard began to drop. She started to learn about Jesus.

When Helen finally came on a winter retreat, she heard numerous conversion stories. She realized that everyone sins, and that Jesus died because of our sins. That piqued her interest and she began to study the Bible and attend the Ladies Tea at church.

By the next fall, I could tell Helen was ready to become a Christian. I invited a Chinese pastor to come to Talk Time and meet with her so that she could understand the Gospel in her own language. I wanted to make sure she would have a place to learn how to worship in her language and culture. The pastor invited her to church the following Sunday and she prayed to receive Jesus. Her email the following day touched my heart.

 

“Since I received Christ, I started to pay attention to what’s around me and I began to feel the Holy Spirit there. The changes that I have seen in my life the last few months have been both inner and outer. I feel more peace in my mind, and when I face a challenge, I pray to let God help me. I know that I am still young in my Christian faith, so I attend a Bible Study group every week and try to meet frequently with other Christians.

Right now, I want to thank God for leading me to this place so that I could know Him. I am grateful that He directed me to my current university, meeting so many faithful believers of Jesus Christ willing to give me help whenever I needed.

“I now feel that life is more hopeful and peaceful. Even [though] I still have a lot of pressure from school, I no longer feel hopeless. I know that God is always with me, and he gives me strength, encouragement and peace. Before I became a Christian, I often wondered about the meaning of life. Sometimes this made me worry, and sometimes it made me depressed. Now, I think God brings me to here with a reason, so I believe He will give me directions.”


 

Reflection:

We often feel vulnerable and afraid in unfamiliar surroundings and circumstances. The temptation is to give in to fear and allow our insecurities to overwhelm us. But God does not leave us alone—He’s always there, working behind the scenes.


Deuteronomy 31:8

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Submitted by: Liz, Japan

October 11
Revival and the Cycle of Discipleship

It has been so exciting to put into action the things we’ve learned in the M:28 Global Discipleship Training. I’ve seen that when I am intentional about following the cycle (discipling new believers to reach out to others) then more international students are reached for Christ.

One Sunday, we had a wonderful “Seeker Sunday School” led by an international student. Everyone in the church was excited about having internationals for Worldwide Communion Sunday. They brought great food for the students and showered them with love. The pastor did a wonderful blessing over each of the students. A Muslim from Iran who has only been in the United States for 50 days was blessed by this outpouring of love and care. Then the students witnessed eleven people being baptized that afternoon. My eyes filled with tears to see the Spirit moving. It was a special weekend for all of us—visitors and congregation.


Reflection:

When we train new believers and encourage them to continue the cycle and reach others, we are following Christ’s command to reap the harvest. As we do so, not only will we see transformed lives, but we may even experience growth and revival in the church.


2 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:
Judy, Texas

October 10
In Unexpected Places

Emily grew up in China. She met Jesus as an international student and subsequently gave her life to Him. However, she didn't find Jesus as an international student in the United States; she found Him while studying in Japan!

Japan remains one of the most difficult mission fields in the world, with less than one percent of the population identified as Christian. You would think such a small group of Christians would focus on just trying to survive. Yet, while studying there, Emily received an invitation to a church with an international ministry, and God used some of that one percent to reveal the good news to this Chinese student.

A few months after her studies in Japan had concluded, Emily came to Oregon to study English; however, what she really wanted to study was the Bible! Now…on Sundays, she attends a local American church; on Mondays, she participates in a BSF Bible Study. On Thursdays, Emily goes to a University Christian Fellowship Bible study, and on Fridays, she takes part in a local Chinese church Bible study. This girl is totally in love with Jesus and just soaks up all she can get of the Bible!

Have Emily’s career plans changed? Yes! Her entire life has changed! She wonders now about whether to continue her English classes or pursue the possibility of attending a Bible college. She has many big life questions because she doesn't know what God has planned for her. However, she does know that she feels called to go back to Japan and help bring God's love to other students like her.

Reflection:

No matter where you live, you can shine Jesus’ light into the lives of those around you. Whether you have a great network of Christians to support you or you rarely get to interact with other Christians, God can use you to reach others for His kingdom.


Acts 1:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, through Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Submitted by: Dan, Oregon

October 9
Live Out Loud

We met Chloe when she came to work on her MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. She knew what she wanted and was determined to get it, no matter what! Smart, energetic, determined, ambitious, and confident, Chloe had a lot of personality to go with it all. She had already worked in the business world and accomplished a lot in her young life. As she put it, “I work hard and play hard.” But in spite of all her skills, abilities and charisma, Chloe was aware of an emptiness inside. Her drive to succeed led her down many unsavory paths that continued to reveal that desolation.

Our first meeting occurred at a Bible study held in the home of local ISI campus staff. I have a feeling that Chloe’s initial motivation for attending came down to the food, but she always participated in the Bible studies and discussion as she heard the Word of God for the first time. She also began to experience authentic relationships and the love of Christ demonstrated by Christians for the first time. She discovered a safe haven at the Bible study.

As the weeks and months passed, Chloe gradually began to experience the transformation that God’s love and His Word can initiate. The day came when Chloe decided to give her life to Christ. We saw in her one of the clearest testimonies of a transformed life we had ever witnessed. She had become His child and she knew it, and she wanted others to know it. His love had drawn her in and she held tight.

Over the months we watched as she continued to grow in her walk with Jesus. We rejoiced with her in everything new and exciting that God was doing. And we walked beside her as the Lord took her through seasons of breaking and humbling. What an honor to share it all with her and help her process God at work in her life.

When it came time for Chloe to graduate and move on, we hosted a going-away party for her. During the event, Chloe took the time to personally address each person in attendance, and tell them what they meant to her and how they had impacted her life. She also clearly shared her testimony with the group and described all that God had done for her. She communicated the plan of salvation so everyone there could experience their own transformation. What a beautiful way to close out her time with us.

Time has passed since then, but when our paths crossed recently, Chloe told us she has since led her brother to Christ and he in turn is sharing about Jesus with his fiancé. And so the story continues…


Reflection:

Do others notice the difference in your daily life and perspective due to the love and grace God has shown you? May our own ongoing transformations speak loudly for Jesus, even as we boldly and personally share the reason for our hope.



1 Corinthians 5:15
He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

Submitted by: Joe, Arizona

October 8
The Prodigal Student

I came to America from Nepal to earn a college degree in Biomedical Engineering so I could go back to help my family and my country. I used to think that if you helped people in practical ways, then that would accomplish what everyone else went to the temple for. At that time, I also believed that Christianity just represented a bunch of religious beliefs.

However, through the Friendship Partner program in Kansas, I met an American family who gave me a Bible and took me to church. I did not expect to get into heaven because of all my sins. However, as I studied the Bible with my American family and learned about Christianity through things like the "JESUS" video, I realized that no one could be good enough to earn one’s way into heaven. I processed and thought on all I learned. However, I made a decision that changed my community and “world” at that time.

After only one semester of college, I went to New Jersey over the holiday break to visit a friend. He convinced me to stay and work there to earn more money for college. This was not part of my dream to graduate with an American degree and go back to help my family in Nepal. In my country family comes first, and men carry the responsibility for support. In New Jersey, however, I veered away from my original plan and lived through some dark, trying times.

One vivid example of my struggles in New Jersey occurred while working at a nearby convenience store. During my shift, some guys came to rob the store. From the back, I could see guns in their pockets, so I ran out the back door and called the police. One guy chased me, but I got away. They attacked my boss, beating her until her head bled. I thank God that the one who chased me did not shoot; God was working the whole time.

As I continued living in New Jersey, I specifically remember coming home from work late one night, taking a shower, eating, and falling into bed. My sleep felt disjointed; I dreamt that Jesus appeared and spoke to me directly, saying that he had something important for me to do. He told me to go back to Kansas and finish college. I knew I had to follow Christ’s leading and that I needed Him in my heart.

Overwhelmed, I called my American family and asked if I could come back. I felt only God could rescue me, and I knew they could help me find His way. Relief flooded my heart when I stepped off the train in Kansas and hugged my American family again. The next day, I prayed with my American mom and gratefully accepted Jesus’ forgiveness for my sins, inviting Him to take over as my Savior and Lord.

Since accepting Christ, I have gained confidence, and I also have more positive thoughts about my life and future. I know He has a plan for me, and I wholeheartedly want to follow His direction for my life.

Reflection:

Do you get caught up in making your own plans and forging your own way? Sometimes God gets our attention by allowing us to experience difficult circumstances because when we come to the end of ourselves, then we realize our need for Him.


Proverbs 19:21
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Submitted by: Dick, Kansas

October 7
Time Well Spent

Steve sent us an email before he left Japan, asking us for help in finding an American family to live with while he studied in Oregon. He had heard about us through the grapevine from a former classmate we had only interacted with briefly more than three years before!

When Steve arrived, we picked him up at the airport. We expressed surprise that he wore big dreadlocks. When we commented how unusual it was for an Asian man to wear that hairstyle, he replied with a smile, “I thought I better look tough while I am in America.”

We spent the first few days helping Steve get oriented to the city and campus, and so naturally we invited him to our home for the Friday night International Christian Fellowship. For the rest of his eight months in Oregon, Steve never missed an ICF, except due to illness. He often told us that he liked the small group time sharing about life and the Bible more than his classes at school! Steve accompanied us on all our trips and outings, whether camping, hiking, skiing, or whatever. We grew quite close.

But soon the time had come for him to return to Japan, and he still hadn’t made a decision to follow Jesus. So, we invited him over for a special final dinner. We enjoyed a great meal together, but nothing eventful occurred. However, when I took him home that night, he began asking questions about God and the Bible. The conversation went on past midnight! The following Sunday marked the first time he came to church! He even talked with our pastor! But still, he made no decision.

Finally, just a couple days before his flight home, our co-worker invited Steve to ride along with him up to Seattle on an errand. On the way home, they stopped on the side of the road to share a picnic lunch, and it finally happened! Steve invited Jesus to be Lord of his life, and he went home a new man!

Reflection:

We all want to see immediate results! Naturally we feel encouraged when our reaching out, spiritual discussions and witnessing result in a conversion. But not everyone is ready when we are! We must continue to live out Christ’s love and grace, regardless of when, or if, our efforts bear obvious fruit.


II Peter 3:14-15a
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved.

Submitted by: John, Oregon

October 6
Lost and Found

I received a phone call one afternoon, and I heard on the other end, "Do you know Christie is missing?" Christie, an Asian student, had participated in a Bible study group with the caller and me while studying in Hong Kong. The caller continued, "Christie was very depressed, and she was not in her right mind. She ran away and has disappeared from school for two months. Even the police are looking for her."

I could not believe this heartbreaking news! I remembered Christie as a sweet and beautiful young lady. She excelled at school, had many friends, and had come to love God. After finishing college in Hong Kong, Christie received a scholarship to study in California for her Masters and PhD.  How could a beautiful dream turn into this nightmare?

I initiated a series of "network" prayers (as well as some search efforts with ISI and friends), so we could begin covering Christie in prayer. After a few referrals, I connected with her family members in the "big" country. Devastated, Christie's parents and uncle had not been able to eat or sleep for months.  I found a Christian couple in their city to reach out and care for Christie's parents. By God's grace, both of Christie's parents accepted the Lord in the midst of their brokenness and devastation. Christie's father shared the ordeal from his viewpoint:

“Christie was a miracle baby. Before she was born, the government doctor wanted to end the pregnancy. Christie's mother already lay on the surgery table when she suddenly shouted, "This is God's baby and who dare to touch me." This scared the doctor, and he backed off.  No one dared to perform the surgery. Christie's life was spared. Christie grew into a smart and beautiful child. She became a Christian later on, but because of our Communist background, we did not accept her faith.

When we found out about Christie’s disappearance, we fell apart. We earned our meager living by selling newspapers, and we did not speak English. Christie meant everything to us. But Christie belonged to Jesus even before her birth, and He had provided and protected her all these years. Even though we didn't know whether she was alive or dead, we began to understand that Jesus was with her.

God showed mercy to me (and my wife). He found me (us) and I (we) repented. I finally found peace and could sleep because I knew Jesus hadn’t lost Christie. I posted my testimony on the Internet, and closed it with this: “If Christie can read this, I want to say, ‘Sweet daughter, you can come home now; your parents now know Jesus, and Jesus found us, too!’" 

The same week this testimony posted online, Christie was FOUND in the Los Angeles airport! Not in her right mind, she threw her shoe at a stranger. The police arrived, and she was admitted to the hospital in Los Angeles. ISI staff there visited Christie and prayed over her; they were the only visitors Christie had during her hospitalization.

Out of all the possible western clinicians in California, Christie’s medical care had been assigned to a kind and understanding Chinese psychiatrist. I became a bridge between the medical professional in Los Angeles, Christie's parents in the big country, and many praying friends all over the world---providing translation, evaluating options for help, and posting updates.

Christie's visa had expired, and she had no family in the United States.  So, the courts ordered her to return home, providing a one-way ticket so she could continue to receive treatment in her home country. Miraculously, the hospital provided a nurse to accompany Christie until she reunited with her parents; I had never heard of such a thing. Free tickets for a “lost” patient and her own nurse!

The following year, we visited Christie in her home country. She now lives with her parents and is receiving good medical care. She even found a job she likes right in her hometown. What a gracious and loving God to provide for and protect her all this time.

Reflection:

Take a moment to appreciate this miraculous rescue and recovery! Each of us is so important to our merciful God. Whether or not we have been physically lost---we were all lost in our sin, and He pursued us. We have been found and rescued. What a loving and compassionate God.


Luke 15:32
We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!

Submitted by: Eva, Hong Kong

October 5
“What about You?”

When a person is first saved, one usually feels the burden of salvation for friends and family. Many of us still do. We may be burdened for family members who have strayed from God. Also, we may be burdened for loved ones who say they would never believe (for different reasons). It is the same with our international friends, as they hear the Gospel and contemplate what it means to be “lost”---we feel that strong burden for them, as well.  

A large number of visiting scholars from China attended our activities this summer, and many of them came to our ICF and Fellowship night at the Chinese Church.

Speaking with one of them who had heard the Gospel message for the first time that night, he shared that it gave him a lot to think about.

Just before he returned to China, he asked, “What about all my friends and family who have never heard this message. Will they all go to Hell?” I said, “Maybe that is why God brought you here, so you can go back to tell them.” It is our responsibility to tell others when we have heard the Good News. After that, it is up to them how they respond.


 

Reflection:

All we can do is love others (as well as their friends and family), share the Good News and our testimonies, nurture relationships by being available to them, and…pray.

 


Acts 16:31-34
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.
Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.

October 4
A Win-Win Situation

I have some great friends and ISI volunteers who live and work on a nearby farm. They had heard stories about Muslim students at our local university driving almost two hours one way to get meat that had been butchered to meet the “halal” requirements of the Muslim law. Since most grocery stores don’t cater to these specifications, my friends decided to start raising chickens on their farm specifically to make them available to these families.

Once the first “crop” of chickens had matured, we worked together to organize a “Butcher Day” and allow these Middle Eastern students to handle the butchering of these chickens in just the way their customs require. That first spring day, seven Muslim families came, and after almost six hours we had killed, plucked and cleaned over 200 pounds of chicken, which we divided up among the families. Although exhausted, everyone expressed his/her thankfulness for the kind gesture and unique bonding we experienced in addressing this felt need.

The farmer only charged the students what he paid for the chicks, plus their feed. They couldn’t have gotten cheaper or fresher meat anywhere! But even beyond the economical benefit, we all got something more from this event. The students saw these Christian Americans not only care about and respect their customs and traditions, but care enough to do something to help. From our side of it, we got to spend quality time connecting to and with these students from halfway around the world in a way that spoke volumes to them.

I’ll never forget the unique vibe of that day! Since then we have determined to organize this kind of event on a regular basis and make it a part of our ISI outreach tradition in Oregon.



Reflection:

“Actions speaks louder than words.” We’ve heard that cliché all our lives. But the truth of the matter is, when people see you do something that shows you care about them, and not just talk about it – it will resonate in their heart and mind. Make a difference in someone’s life today—take action!



I John 3:17-18
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.


Submitted by: Matt, Oregon

October 3
The Fellowship of Believers

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near,” Hebrews 10:25.

This verse gives us clear directions as believers that we need to be with other Christians. In spending time with other believers, we findnot just encouragementbut strength in numbers. We have people who share our love for the Lord. We have people who will pray for us. We have people who will help us in our time of need. We have people who will help us be accountable in our walk with the Lord. And we have people who share our values that we can enjoy being around. We can be ourselves with these people and feel safe.

Our home church, The Point Community Church, was where we held a Friendship Partner training. There were six people in attendance including one of our pastors. About ten days later, we invited some students to a pumpkin-carving event with one of our small groups. Five students came and met many people from our church. After the event, Linda, one of the ladies from our church sent me this: 

“(One of the students) asked how we all knew each other, and I told her we all attended church together. She looked quizzical and then said, ‘Wow! Just from going to church together you are so close?  I can feel so much love here between all of you!’”

I praise God for my church, for everything I am blessed with because of my community there. And I praise God for the evidence of His love that spoke to this student.

 

Reflection:

Thank God for your church, for the blessings of being in the community where you grow and are loved. If you don’t have this community in your church, then perhaps it’s time to think about what you can do to change that.

 

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Submitted by: David, New Jersey

October 2
Let Us Not Become Weary

In August of 2011, I was feeling discouraged because we wouldn’t have as many wives attending the International Wives’ Friendship Connection (IWFC) in the fall.  Most wives had moved to other parts of the country, others had gone home to their home countries. Also, two of our leadership team members (out of the three of us) would be out of the country for part of the fall season. So in my quiet time, the morning of August 26th, Friday, I brought my concerns to the Lord in my quiet time and wrote the following in my journal: 

“Lord, I bring to you the IWFC situation. I’m a bit discouraged that we’ll only have two wives returning this year...I’m not even sure if they’ll be able to join us as both of them are also going back to school. So that means their Fridays will be taken up with classes, etc. As you know, Mina, one of our ministry team leaders, will be going back to Japan in October for about two months, and Linda will go to Uganda on a mission trip in November. That means I’ll be on my own. I feel like giving up right now, Lord, and I sure sound like Elijah, but you know my heart. What do you want me to do? Should I go ahead and continue anyway? I’m waiting to hear from you.”

As I waited on the Lord I heard him say, “Josie, pray.”

“Yes, I am, Lord, and our prayer team will also be praying for this need.”

Then I heard, “Call.

“Call who, Lord?  Okay, I'm writing names down.”

Call Jill at WorldView Center (office administrator of a residential place for missionaries, seminary students and their families). Call Multnomah Seminary, Call Susy at WSU.”

“OK, I’ll do that. I don’t know of any wife right now but please connect us with wives or people who know international wives. I feel like giving up!”

Josie, do not give up...do not be weary in well doing!”

The Lord reminded me of what Paul said to the Galatians! “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” Galatians 6:9.

“Wow, Lord! Thank you for this encouragement from you! I really needed this!”

After my quiet time, around 10:15 in the morning, I shared with my husband the experience I had above, and while we were talking, he told me an email from Jill (from WorldView) just popped up that read, “Things have been busy here, especially with the big number of incoming residents we have. You’ll have lots of wives/moms to join you in IWFC!” I was floored! I couldn’t help crying for joy! Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t contain myself! So I wrote this thanksgiving prayer, “Lord, you are awesome. I’m very touched and humbled by Your swift reply! You’ve affirmed Your Word to me not to give up or be discouraged. Thank you So much. How amazing You are! How wonderful You are, Oh Lord, my God.”


Reflection:

There are times when we all grow weary. We weary of working without acknowledgement or thanks from others. We weary of praying for change in circumstances or people and yet seeing none. But the Lord tells us never to give up, to be joyful, and to be thankful.



1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

…but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Submitted by: Josie, Oregon

October 1


Galatians 6:7-10

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Reflection:

Doing good. Helping others. Serving the Lord. Sometimes it can seem as if you’re constantly striving to please the Spirit, without ever feeling even remotely successful. Yet the Apostle Paul encourages you to not give up. God is aware of your efforts. Your work pleases Him. And, at just the right time, He will bring the seeds you’ve planted to fruition in a way that glorifies Him and blesses others.

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