Ministry Ideas: International Student Giveaway

I’m not sure how old this program is, but it goes back several years. The idea is simple. We are a campus church (next door to the University of Alabama). Each fall, scores of students enroll from foreign countries. Many are on shoestring budgets and couldn’t bring anything but a couple of suitcases with them from their homes. And so we arrange to give away furniture, computers … anything a student at the university could use.

We invite new international students to come by, meet some of our members, and receive free supplies. Volunteers are available to help move the furniture to their apartments or dorms, as students who’ve just arrived in the United States are often friendless and need help with desks and chairs.

Most donations are leftovers from someone’s redecorating, downsizing, or such, but the students are visibly moved by the generosity of the congregation.

These students are, of course, college students and very bright. They inevitably ask why we give our things away to perfect strangers — strangers who aren’t even Americans or Christians. And we tell them we do it because of Jesus.

This year, a student from a communist nation said, “I was warned to stay away from Christians, because Christians are very bad people. But now I have to reconsider everything!”

Over the years, a number of students have been converted to Jesus from this program — and have gone back to their homes to teach Christianity to others.


6 Responses

  1. Sounds like a great idea. Be careful though — I understand that another university (was it ACU?) got in trouble because a local church was giving things like that to scholarship athletes, which violates the NCAA rules.

  2. About 40 years ago the International Students organization sent a report documenting that many of the major national leaders, who were then opposed to the USA, attended schools in the States but never had any significant contact with Americans outside of the academic community. … Missionaries have been welcomed in some areas because students from those areas were befriended in the States. I thank God for your efforts. Richard Kruse

  3. This is my one lasting dent at UCC. So glad that it has continued since it was first started in 2004.

  4. Alan,

    Thanks for the warning! But I’m pretty sure we’ve not brought in any international football or basketball players. (There aren’t any other sports, are there?)

  5. soonercary,

    Oh, there are lots of dents around here with your name on them … 😀

  6. Ha, I’ll just take the positive interpretation of that…

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