Our congregation’s MOSAIC ministry began with a simple invitation to come for dinner. A friend, neighbour, and member of our church asked if our family would be willing to host some visiting scholars for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in our home. He and his family, originally from South Korea, but more recently from India, had moved to Vancouver about a year earlier. While living in India Daniel had come to work with a local pastor who had a growing ministry to international students, many of whom came to know the Lord. My wife and I eagerly agreed to host some international guests and, along with the Kim family, we hosted three visiting Chinese scholars, and two Indian students. What a joy it was to learn something of each other’s culture and share food that for them was quite new! This provided me with the very natural opportunity to extend an invitation to our guests to visit our church that following Sunday.
Well, that following Sunday three Chinese scholars came to our morning worship service. Although listening to a sermon in English was somewhat of a challenge, the message still spoke to them and they found the music and the singing particularly moving. To this day I remain deeply grateful for how a number of our members, especially some of our senior ones, went out of their way to meet and welcome our new guests. The Asian culture has great respect for elders and this contact with our members had a significant impact.
Our international friends continued to worship with us and with Daniel’s leadership we soon planned a weekly luncheon and discussion time after the morning service so that we could enjoy fellowship with our guests and encourage discussion and reflection. Several of our members agreed to lead these discussions and share their own faith stories of what it meant for them to follow Christ and serve him. For scholars who had seen Christianity as the “religious mythology of the West”, they were deeply impacted by how faith in Jesus Christ took on a very personal and practical role in people’s lives. The open meals, open homes, and open hearts were a very tangible sign to them of the love of Christ. As we increasingly came to know our guests and develop friendships with them, they would often express how much they appreciated the warmth and the love of many in the congregation. We very quickly began to appreciate the power of simple friendship and hospitality—God’s power. We thanked the Lord as our guests invited more guests. Soon our luncheons regularly welcomed 8, 10, 12 international students or scholars, sometimes even more.
Soon a more formally structured MOSAIC ministry began to emerge. Our MOSAIC ministry worked closely with International Students Ministries of Canada (ISMC) and a good number of students and scholars were introduced to our congregation through their weekly on campus “Focus Club” meetings at Simon Fraser University. These are on-campus gatherings to welcome internationals and provide them with a free meal and an opportunity for thoughtful discussion. At one point our congregation invited ISMC to lead a seminar at our church on welcoming internationals and becoming friendship partners with them; an invitation that a number of families accepted.
Our ministry to internationals continues to grow. Some have become part of our Young Adult’s group. Sometimes various outings and socials are planned. A weekly Bible study began in our youth pastor’s home. And in subsequent years more Thanksgiving Dinner (and Christmas dinner) tables were open to international guests.
In time our church saw great potential to show care and hospitality to internationals by offering an intentional Christian community housing opportunity. MOSAIC Home was born. A church owned home offers up to seven rooms for rent to international students / scholars who would like to live together with others in a caring, Christian environment. This home has been a great blessing to students from many different countries!
The Lord has worked in significant ways through this ministry. Approximately 10 people have come to know Jesus while in Vancouver and been baptized in our church. Some have remained in our church while others have returned to their home country. We have continued to have contact with some of our visitors mostly by email, but also through a visit to them in China and Korea.
We seem to regularly welcome new friends from various countries. Word spreads when a community shows Kingdom focussed hospitality. We look forward to how the Lord will continue to bless this ministry in our church and in the hearts and lives of those who have become friends.
And it started with a simple invitation to dinner…
That's an excellent account of outreach and compassion done in a natural manner! Thanks for sharing it. It's very encouraging!
Ken Van De Griend
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