- Phone: 979-268-8900
- Address: 700 University Drive East, Ste. 115, College Station, TX 77840
It does not take long to notice that College Station is a town where nations intersect. On a trip to HEB, going to the park, or in your or your child’s classroom, you are likely to cross paths with someone from another nation. According to the International Student Services, students from 127 different nations are currently attending Texas A&M University, and many of these students bring their spouse and children as well.
Approaching and speaking to a person from a different culture may seem intimidating at first, but often international students are eager to speak with Americans and learn about the culture. Members of New Life Baptist Church are joining the Baptist Student Ministry to engage the international population of College Station through becoming a conversation partner -someone who regularly meets with an international student allowing them to practice conversational English.
New Life member Rebekah Forbes shares about her conversation partner from China:
“I remember the first time we met she ran down the street towards me, gave me a big hug, and then locked her arm in mine as we walked to lunch. We sat and talked for a long time, and the conversation quickly turned to Jesus. She was so warm and personable. Her hunger and eagerness to learn were always so encouraging.”
The structure and length of meetings vary between conversation partners. Some choose to do daily tasks like grocery shopping together, and others may share a meal, drink tea, or play frisbee. Regardless of what the meeting time looks like, both individuals are able to learn from each other through conversation and friendship building.
New Life Member Marcus* says his favorite part of meeting with his conversation partner from Mexico is getting to see improvement in his language skills from week to week.
“When I first met him, he did not speak any English, so I really had to alter how I would be able to help him,” Marcus shares.“Now he asks questions about grammar and seems genuinely interested to listen to me speak about anything. We get to talk about where the best taqueria is in town, but it is also a great platform to share the gospel.”
Many Christians look at their lives and have difficulty identifying unbelievers that they have a relationship with and are ministering to. By becoming a conversation partner and opening their lives to an international student, Christians have the possibility to impact not only an individual but an entire family, village or country for Christ without even having to leave College Station.
New Life Pastor Allen Duty has had conversation partners from several different countries over the past 12 years. He reflects, “I think I've been most encouraged by realizing how much spiritual hunger exists in human beings all over the world. My experiences with men and women from other countries tell me they are eager to learn about God as he has revealed himself in the Bible, and for many of them, coming to America was the first time they had the opportunity to talk about those things openly.”
Rebekah echoes this observation as she remembers an encounter with two international students from China, “My husband and I were at the BSM and were able to share the gospel with them. When we told them about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, one of the guys pointed to a cross on the wall and said, ‘Oh, so that's what that thing is!’ Literally, this was the first time he had ever heard of Jesus. These are the kinds of people who are asking to be a part of our lives.”
Rebekah encourages New Life members and other Christians alike to become a conversation partner.
“Go for it! Take a step of faith and commit to this person for the coming year,” she says. “I think sometimes we forget that eternity is on the line. You may be the first Christian this person has ever met. What an opportunity!”
Taking this opportunity may seem like a big commitment, and those on the fence may think that they do not know enough or have the time to be a conversation partner. Pastor Allen points out, “If you have an hour or two a few times per
*Name has been changed to protect privacy