“INTERNATIONAL STUDENT MINISTRY (ISM) IS ABOUT DOING LIFE TOGETHER”
It was the Spring semester of my Junior year of college in 2014. My best friend was working on a project for one of her PR classes and decided that she wanted to interview different Saudi women on campus to ask them about themselves and what they thought about America/Americans. I remember her being so excited when she came back to the apartment one afternoon because she had just come from sitting down at a large table filled with Saudi women and was able to get to know several of them. Among them was “H”. She stood out to my friend. She was outgoing, sweet, and eager to get to know my friend more.
Not long after, I was introduced to “H”. We all quickly became friends, and with her being just a couple years older than us, we were able to relate to each other in a lot of ways. We began meeting randomly on campus, and before we knew it, she was coming over to our apartment and we were going to hers.
One thing that I learned very quickly about Saudi culture is that they are extremely kind and hospitable. I also learned that when you become a friend to one, you immediately become a friend to all. That’s exactly what happened with us and H’s friends. It was like a chain reaction that snowballed in the best way possible! Pretty soon we were having get-togethers with her and her friends in our friend’s houses. I have such fond memories of this time in my life.
As the days went on, we all became closer and closer. We weren’t just meeting with “H” every now and again, she was doing life with us. She was there for our friend’s engagement party, hung out with us at the park for a cookout, came along for a mani/pedi, joined in on some of our adventures, did our makeup on a couple occasions, and even hopped in the car for some hot chocolate drinking and Christmas light gazing in December.
In the midst of doing life with “H”, the gospel naturally came along side-it was our life. She knew from early on in our friendship that we were Christians, she appreciated that about us. She was curious and wanted to know about what we believed. Often times we would hear, “Oh, we have the same thing” when talking about certain parts of scripture, even though we knew that they didn’t. A lot of our sharing came by little stories here and there as doors would open, and by us displaying Christ in our actions.
Toward the end of her time in Russellville, just after she had graduated and before she returned back to Saudi Arabia, a group of us got together for one last meal and exchanged gifts with her. That night, “H” heard the gospel one last time. We knew that there would be a good chance that she wouldn’t have interest in making that decision, but we knew we needed to share it. At the end of the conversation, “H” asked us to pray for one thing specifically: that she would find a Christian friend back home. To this day, I still pray for that.
Even though “H” is back in her home country now, we all still keep in touch via social media. My life is forever sweeter/changed because of her!
Bit Stephens with the College+Young Leaders Team made this comment about Abby’s commitment to Welcoming the Nations: “This is a wonderful story of the commitment to be a friend with an international. This is a challenge to real friendship, not seeing them as a project, but as Abby said, “doing life together.” Abby naturally showed the love of Christ to “H” because she loves Jesus and she loved her friend, “H.” We can trust what God is continuing to do in “H’s” life to draw her to Himself. Pray for “H” to have a Christian friend back home.
Abby Musset is a member of First Baptist Russellville and volunteers her time working with international students.