Category Archives: International Student Ministry

International Christmas Fest – December 2015

This year we were so privileged once again to host International Christmas Fest at UBC, with a “Christmas lights theme!” What an awesome12356696_3734919813585_2668450122198444950_o opportunity this event is for so many ministries who have a specific reach to international students here in Fayetteville, to all come together for the purpose of sharing the true meaning of Christmas. Several students from various counties shared about how Christmas is celebrated in their hometowns, the infamous “ICT Band” performed, and several others used their various talents to make the show unique—these students are so gifted in many ways! Santa made an appearance to tell the true Christmas Story and then the Gospel was shared as we are all reminded of how all of these Christmas lights point us to the true Light of the World—Christ! This year we had more students then previous years and from so many different countries.

Following the program, we made our way over to Fellowship Hall for the “Festival of Flavors!” 12356004_3734921013615_1299785511_oInternational students prepared some dishes from their countries, while some generous American families provided crockpots of soup and dozens of delicious cookies! This was an awesome opportunity to reconnect with students who we hadn’t seen in a while!

Personally, I was reminded of how gracious the Lord has been to place some specific students in my life this year—and to consider the impact the Gospel continues to have as it falls upon their ears. Even just this week, one of my dear Muslim friends asked for a bible and if I would study it with her!! I was so encouraged she got to come to Christmas Fest as it was another opportunity for her to be washed in the Word and loved on by more believers. A highlight of the evening was when an Iraqi family I met in the park with the Carters in August showed up to the12359355_3734921133618_1668276898_o event (though none of us specifically thought to invite them!), and then over the meal time, the husband asked for a bible he could read! We are SO excited to see how God uses His Word to reveal Himself to this Muslim family who is seeking Truth!

And a HUGE thank you to so many of you, who prepared delicious food, came to serve throughout the night, and prayed for these students and our time with them—I cannot emphasize enough how grateful we are to you all!

Written by Courtney Osborn


International Student Dinner

On October 23rd, several families from UBC hosted international students in their home for a time of fellowship and sharing in culture and community.  We hope this to be an every semester event, as we engage international students at the UA.





International Student Ministry Bonfire – October 2015

IMG_3012“Hey! How are things going?” he asked as I picked up the phone.

“Well, things are going great I think–we ran out of most food and we lost track of people after the name tags ran out at 300. Everyone is having fun though!”

A couple weeks ago we hosted our “3rd Annual International Student Welcome Bonfire” at the Wilson House! With us being walking distance from campus this year, we were so excited to see whom the Lord would bring. Through my new role working with internationals, and the opportunity I had to serve alongside the University through the two orientation weeks, I got to meet tons of new international students–many of whom came to the bonfire and brought friends.

In the weeks leading up to the bonfire, as the event continued to “grow,” I realized I needed some help! IMG_2988My awesome co-laborers (whom I’m so thankful to work with at the BCM), jumped right in and helped me plan all the logistics and even provided manpower and equipment to make it all happen. At the last minute an awesome band from the University composed of internationals agreed to perform for part of the night. We set up a stage, sound system, DJ, fire pits, tables, chairs, some twinkly lights, yard games, a raffle with prizes, an awesome map, and a feast of hot dogs, chips, cookies, fruit & s’mores!

Oh and, can I just say, the provision of the hot dogs, snacks, and s’mores this year–it took an army! After I sent out an email to a group of my partners in ministry, it took less then 48 hours for the list to be filled up as people literally began dropping off the items needed at my door! I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to you for serving these students in this way–SUCH a blessing! The event would not have been possible without your help!

As the food and supplies were pouring in, I remember thinking this is a TON of food, and there’s no way we will ever use all of this. Believe it or not, by about 10:30pm, the food was gone! Luckily, we had plenty of s’mores supplies so that kept everyone happy.

IMG_2875At one point in the night, my boss called to see how things were going and that was right around the time we actually ran out of name tags. It’s still a topic of debate as to how three-hundred students danced the night away in our backyard, and yet it happened.

God really used this event to remind me how incredible it is to be apart of the body of Christ. I thought about the dozens of families who invested time and finances into providing the food and supplies, others who helped set up and clean up, the students who led the crowd in dances throughout the night, the band who performed music using their gifting, and even the American believers who came represented a dozen different churches and campus ministries around town. There were a number of I-friend families who attended with their student early on in the night. As I walked around and followed up afterward, it was so neat to hear of Americans making plans to meet up after this event with some of the internationals they had connected with! The connections made through this bonfire among believers and internationals made it fully worth all of the planning and preparation.

There were moments in the chaos when I would pause and glance up–my eyes locked on the map hanging from the tree across the yard, a constant reminder of the hundreds of students from all over the world hanging out together in this backyard. He does exceedingly beyond all we can ask or think! Why? To make His name great!

To get to use the space, the time, the resources, the music in such a way for His glory and namesake, it just doesn’t get any better until we do this togetherIMG_2920 before the throne one day with these and other nations, tribes and tongues, all echoing holy, holy, holy!

And that’s why it all matters right? So we dance with joy, shout with praise and proclaim with boldness of this God whose love conquered the grave and removed my heart of stone and gave a heart of flesh by whom I cry out Abba Father. We want to celebrate all of this on that day with these students.

If you are local and have a desire to grab lunch or coffee and get to know an international student from the bonfire, please contact me! I have more contact information then I know what to do with right now!

Written by Courtney Osborn (NAMB missionary working alongside UBC as International Student Ministries Coordinator).


International Student Ministry – September 2015

Two weeks ago I received an email from the international office at the U of A saying, “Hi Courtney, thanks to your efforts at UBC, we actually have moreIMG_0145 American hosts then international students this year! Since you know so many of the hosts and students this year, we would love for you to come and help us match them this week.”  Every year we have too many students and not enough host families to match them with—this is HUGE!

What an incredible picture of the body of Christ catching a vision and running with it. University Baptist Church now has a reputation with the University of Arkansas as being a people who are willing to meet a practical need to the glory of the Father! We have gotten to bless the University and invite these students from Macedonia, Brazil, Morocco, Korea Iraq, etc. to sit at our dinning-room tables and hang out with our families.

Not to mention, there was SO MUCH favor in the University inviting me to come help match, because it enabled me to hand-pick students I’ve gotten to share the gospel with and match them with many UBC families, even with many of you who are now welcoming them into your homes! Last week we even saw three different international students came to UBC for the first time with their I-friend families! We are so excited to see how God continues to reveal Himself to these students through the love and faithful gospel witness of families within our church body.

If you’re still interested in being matched with a student, a whole new group of internationals arrive in January! How awesome would it be to once again have more host families then students to match them with?! My hope for us as a body is that our presence on campus among international students would continue to grow and that our increased involvement would become the norm! I thank my God for each of you, as we labor together for the glory of God, and the furtherance of His Kingdom among internationals at the U of A!

Written by Courtney Osborn


International Student Ministry Testimony – August 2015

Considering welcoming an international student into your family this semester? It’s been quite a few years since Anthony & Nely Descher1459705_3669141423193_2146797380_n started participating in  the iFriend Program, and they wanted to share a little bit of their experience.

“We met Patterson two year’s ago through the U of A program ‘Dinner in an American Home.’ In attendance that night were four South Korean students, Patterson, and his dad. We invited them to UBC the next day. Patterson and his dad attended the Sunday church service with us. They both fell asleep during the service! We invited Patterson again to church and he kept coming to UBC ever since. A few years later, he is still apart of our family! We are so thankful for him.

We realize inviting international students into your life and home can be uncomfortable in the beginning. We just want to encourage you in that it is okay to be nervous at first! Try not to worry about not being able to speak to them or even being able to understand them or they to understand you. The students are nervous as well, but they are excited to get to know you and for you to get to know them. The communication will gradually get better as you all become more comfortable with one another! Be sure to ask questions about them and their life back home. You could ask about their culture, the food they enjoy, their family, and even what they believe. 
Trust God to use those conversations for His glory, just as He has done in Patterson’s life!”

Patterson also wanted to share about the impact of the Descher family in his life as an international student just arriving to Fayetteville.

“As an international student from the Bahamas, I can truly say that I am a product of the iFriend program. One of the ways God allowed me to be introduced to the gospel was through I-Friend members Anthony and Neely Descher. Through persistent invitations to church, I started to tune into the message and be engaged on Sunday mornings. Eventually, I met Mark (the collage pastor), and was later discipled by a guy, Fee Kennedy, who was a college intern that year. Shortly after that, I was baptized by Mark Carter. What a blessing! God used a simple invitation to church which allowed the Holy Spirit to convict me of my ways. All in all, iFriend is a wonderful program, and has truly been a blessing in my life, and I thank the Lord for it.”

Written by Anthony & Nely Descher and Pattesron Hilaire


International Student Ministry, iFriend Testimony – Johnsons

Did you know that we had 1,800 international students from 112 different countries studying right here at the U of A this past semester? Believe10648791_10152369623696444_4435575420100113743_o-2 it or not, 85% of these students never get invited into an American home. God has so strategically positioned us to be like family to these students–plus what an easy way to get to share God’s faithfulness in our lives as we welcome them into our homes! The University has an incredible program called I-Friend through which they will match an American family or college student with an international student.

One family from UBC had an awesome experience with their Brazilian student, Karin, this past year. Gerald and Debbie Johnson say, “We have always been interested in international students, however perhaps, with a little hesitation knowing you are inviting a total stranger into your home. But we had a great experience with Karin.  She fit into our family from the get go. One thing that made her exceptional was that she was already a Christian. We adopted her and she adopted us and she is the only member of our family that has studied at Yale! These students are the cream of the crop, having been selected for their academic achievements and probably the ability to adapt. We highly recommend this challenge for anyone willing to take the time.”

Written by Gerald & Debbie Johnson


International Student Ministry – Valentine’s Banquet

1920046_10152653534966444_6535380847253231288_nThe Valantines Event UBC hosted on Friday for international students is perhaps the first international event in years in which I have not had a significant responsibility. Usually I am running around crazy and serving through these events—but this time I just got to sit back and take it all in. I actually got to sit at a table and have conversation with a few girls sitting around me. God was sweet to affirm that was exactly where He wanted me, even as I struggle with feeling guilty that I did just sit there and talk—rather then serving in the capacity I typically do.

Going into this event I had been praying that each table host, myself included, would meet one new student they could exchange numbers with and pursue outside of this event. For me, it happened to be the girl sitting beside me, Aniela. It is easy to walk away from these big events with a list of names and phone numbers but neglect to really know these students faces and stories. Aniela and I started talking and she told me she was searching for community. I told her about our LifeGroup through UBC on Sunday night and asked her if she would be interested in coming. She smiled real big and said yes!

She came with me last night and it was a sweet time where she said she felt really welcome. We read through Ephesians 1 and spent a good amount of time talking about the gospel and how it impacts our daily lives, as well as those around us. We prayed and ate and talked some more.

When we got in the car, Aniela shared how she feels really weak in her faith. She told me how she has never felt this distant from God. I started asking her a few questions and before long, she shared part of her story dealing with some relationships that I was able to empathize with her in.  I think we always tune in when we know someone is where we are—sometimes the suffering and pain allow us to be vulnerable and to receive truth in a unique way.

Anyhow, during this season of ministry I currently find myself in, a precious and wise woman who empathized with my pain more then I will ever understand shared this story with me. The story was about Abraham and Isaac and this concept of releasing the most precious person to us, releasing our heart, releasing even our questions and pain and dreams to a God who sees us—ultimately to trust the Lord when we don’t yet see the ram. The truth she shared with me that day has helped me to trust Jesus in this season more then I have ever had to trust Him before. It is truth I continue to go back to daily, hourly some days, releasing again and again all of the hurt and things I don’t understand. I decided to share this story with Aniela—and she was very moved and encouraged by my sharing this truth with her.

She said the only time she has been able to seek God recently was to read a page of a little devotional someone had given her.  She said the devotional told her the beginning of the same story that I had just shared with her, and that I had shared the second part, the ending of the story. How sweet is that?! How this woman in Texas going through the most unimaginable pain feels led to encourage me through this season in my life and now this same truth passed onto the this student from Panama searching for hope in Christ—can you imagine what sorts of ears this good news might fall upon through Aniela?

This gospel is not just about us—we have to share it and then simply trust Jesus’ ability to draw man to Himself in ways that so10842326_10152655541966444_324275017327807460_o exceed anything our finite minds can ask or think. I couldn’t have planned this out if I tried, but God was faithful! I only share all of this to encourage ya’ll in this—the gospel is real hope for real people who are searching for truth and hope. We all have more hurts and heartaches then we could imagine and we need. Jesus.  We need to be able to come to the throne and find mercy and grace in our time of need—we need the gospel.

Aniela needs the gospel—and tonight she heard it and God had clearly prepared her heart for some time to receive it. She came to that event Friday night deeply hurting with a big smile on her face. I had no idea—but this God who loves her more then I ever could—He knew! He knows each of us so perfectly and intimately. She came to our LifeGroup tonight searching for some sort of hope from the God she knew could give it, but wasn’t convinced she could have it.

Then of course, in LifeGroup we talked about the gospel being a gift, from a loving God who doesn’t make us earn anything, who is with us, who gives us redemption in Christ. None of this is news to the Lord. He loves this precious daughter so perfectly that He knew her every need and pain and loneliness and doubt, yet, still chose in His rich mercy to reveal to her through bringing her to our Life Group just how intimately He cares for her. I trace His faithfulness back to the banquet, back to last month, back to last night, and on and on and on. He is faithful!

Do we see the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe?! Oh how perfect is His way, even when it makes no sense to us at the time, even when it seems glory could never come out of our ashes.  He has a bigger plan to unite all things in Him, set forth in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth!

This time at our LifeGroup, God used Aniela to remind me how in spite of myself, He loves me this way too. Let’s praise Him for just how perfectly He cares for each of us in the way in which we consider and speak the gospel this week. This “world” that needs to hear becomes a whole lot smaller, as we witness Him transform real lives through this gospel, lives like Aniela’s. He is gracious. Continue to pray for her this week, as she is deeply hurting and now beginning to understand His love for her in her pain. We are going to start meeting weekly and studying the Word together, trusting Him to continue to teach us through His Word, to trust His perfect plans for our lives, even in these really painful seasons of brokenness where it is hard to look upon the glory that is coming.

Written by Courtney Osborn