“I never heard about Jesus until I came to America and met Cru students. I thought you guys were all so crazy to believe in God. Now I think this gospel might be true. I feel I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to take a leap of faith, but I’m afraid. I didn’t know who Jesus was for 22 years. I’m afraid I will go back to my country and realize this isn’t real - like it was a dream or something.” - Sam, UNH
Did you know that at this very moment, enrolled at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), are several hundred students who in many ways are ideal candidates for the Mission Field? Ideal, because these students already speak the language of their intended country. Ideal because they have already adjusted to that nation’s customs, norms, and cuisine … Ideal in so very many ways - except one.
These students have yet to embrace Christ as Savior … a deal-breaker, for sure, but not an insurmountable one - at least in the mind of one UNH student.
Kelsey Gilmore (UNH ‘16) spent the summer after her freshman year on a Cru mission at Wildwood, NJ. Wildwood - a summer resort destination that employs an astounding number of international students - fosters a happy convergence of “fields white for harvest” and “laborers in training,” since Cru hosts a discipleship intensive there for Cru collegians, recognizing Wildwood’s suitability for “making disciples of every nation.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Awakened to the enormous potential of international students won to Christ, then “sent” back home as His ambassador, Kelsey brimmed with enthusiasm toward UNH’s international population as she returned for her sophomore year; yet her Cru peers didn’t get it. Kelsey’s mentor wisely proposed that the two of them commit to pray, asking God to use Cru to begin to reach out to these select students.
And that’s what they did. For the entire year the two of them met weekly for focused prayer on how God might want Cru to engage with international students for His purposes. As the school year came to a close, two or three others had joined their prayer time.
So, imagine Kelsey’s surprise when she returned from her summer mission in the Middle East to find that her prayer partners had been coordinating hiking and beach outings with Brazilians and Chinese, alternating with bi-weekly Bible Studies!
“Part of me felt a little cheated that it started without me,” Kelsey admitted, “but I think God wanted me to know it was His work, not mine.”
Capitalizing on the the momentum, Kelsey and company launched “The International Cafe” the fall of 2014. That first meeting, circling up with the first few arrivals, Kelsey and company had to keep backing out because more kept coming. All told, thirty showed up - and they’d only ordered enough tea and cookies for ten.
The trend continues. 61 students from 17 countries came to this fall’s first International Cafe (75% coming from the 10/40 window) with twice as many men as women. (Check out where students are coming from to be educated at UNH: UNH Global)
“We want International Cafe to be a safe, welcoming place,” said Kelsey, now a Cru intern. Guests can expect “get to know you” games, as well as practical help with English. They can also expect meaningful interaction - an opportunity to share their worldview and hear from others .
“Each week we show a Global Short Film, sparking discussions that draw out those seeker themes. Then we invite those interested to dinner and a Bible study,” Kelsey explained.
And how’s it going, as these students learn about the One who loves them and died to save them? You can get a glimpse from Sam’s story:
“I never heard about Jesus until I came to America and met Cru students. I thought you guys were all so crazy to believe in God. Now I think this gospel might be true. I feel I’m standing on the edge of a cliff, ready to take a leap of faith, but I’m afraid. I didn’t know who Jesus was for 22 years. I’m afraid I will go back to my country and realize this isn’t real - like it was a dream or something.”
Just days ago, Sam did the leap thing, declaring, “It’s not crazy to believe in God - it’s crazy not to!”
Three other internationals joined him in the leap. Ambassadors in the making.
Recent stories of God's handiwork on campuses throughout the Northeast and the world.