Imagine you are in America, but you are a citizen of a different country. You consider the opportunity to visit America a privilege, but everything is very different.
It’s a different culture with different sights, different smells, and different sounds. You are not very confident in your English speaking skills, you don’t have transportation, and your family and friends are all back home in China. When you cannot really speak the language, you don’t have anywhere to go, and everything is foreign to you, isolation sets in and loneliness takes over.
This is where Reformed University Fellowship-International (RUF-I) and the local church come in. The ministry of RUF-I can be summed up in three words: Welcome, Engage, and Equip. They welcome visiting scholars from all nations into their homes and the local church. They engage them with the gospel of Jesus Christ around the table and through various events. Finally, they equip the visitors to go back to their homeland with the hope of carrying the good news of Jesus.
For the past decade CMPC has been partnering with RUF-I at Georgia Tech to carry out “Lake Day” on Lake Lanier. Our role at CMPC is to help the staff of RUF-I to welcome and engage these visiting scholars. It is a one-day mission journey for CMPCers right here in our own backyard. On July 31, we had our annual lake day and it was… a GREAT DAY!
Here is a rundown of the day:
The CMPC bus drivers met at 7:30am to drive down to Georgia Tech to pick up over 70 visiting scholars (mostly from China) and over 10 volunteers. Tracey West is the RUF-I campus pastor. He is married to Suzanne and they have a son named Charlie. We transported the students up to Lanier Park on Lake Lanier for a good ol’ fashioned American cookout.
After a brief and interesting history of Lake Lanier, Tracey shared with the visitors Psalm 19.1: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” He encouraged the scholars to recognize that God is the Creator of all things as they observed and enjoyed the beauty of His creation throughout the afternoon. After this a Chinese volunteer read the same verse out of a Chinese Bible.
Within minutes the visiting scholars were itching to get to the afternoon’s activities, and there were many things to do! Boat rides, kayaks, paddleboards, corn hole, badminton, swimming, group pictures and a picture frame craft, and the Lake Day cookout with hot dogs, hamburgers, all the fixins, chips, fruit, brownies, banana pudding, and cookies. For many of these visitors this was the first time being on a boat, first time being on a lake, first time being in a kayak, even the first time leaving the campus. This year the visitors got a Lake Day t’shirt so they can say they have been to Lake Lanier and got the t’shirt too!
Around 3pm the busses were loaded up again and we returned the students back to the Georgia Tech campus. After soaking up the sun, riding the waves, paddling, and enjoying an “American afternoon,” many people fell asleep on the bus in the Atlanta traffic. For all involved, it was a great day! For many international students who are often lonely, it was a great experience. For CMPCers, it was a chance to welcome the nations and serve them through our God-given resources.
Most importantly, it was a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who might not know Him.