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Inviting the World to Dinner

Raj, a researcher from India, needed a place to stay until his apartment became available. Housing a stranger is never easy. Yet in the course of a week, God enabled many spiritual conversations to take place, including one in which Raj said that he thought his wife might be a Christian. He said that she wore a cross around her neck and carried a small Bible. 

Walt suggested that Raj read the Jesus Storybook Bible to understand what his wife might believe. Raj never put the book down. He read it from cover to cover, asking, “Are these stories really true?” He admitted that he didn’t believe the stories in Hinduism to be true and he had actually stopped going to temple. 

Raj says that we are his American parents and is quite willing to continue these spiritual conversations. 

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​Walt and I had served as missionaries to the Philippines for 23 years when, suddenly in 2010, our mission board informed us that they felt the work there was completed. 

Uncertainty loomed.  We had planned to work in the Philippines until retirement, but God had other plans. Our daughter Hannah suggested that we consider working with international students in the United States, because she saw at her university how lonely and isolated they were.

So in September 2010, over 50 people gathered in State College, Pennsylvania to pray over our house and commit it for the Lord’s use. We specifically prayed that internationals would find a place to call home and taste and see that the Lord is good. 

Since that time, hundreds of students have been in our home, and many have come to know the Lord. At least 28 have become baptized believers and two have entered full-time Christian work with international students on other campuses. 

We recognize that these students represent the best from their countries; nearly 300 present and former world leaders studied in the United States. So we see the need to equip these students to return to their home countries and impact their sphere of influence with the Gospel. 

We host a Saturday night Bible discussion and dinner in our home, with up to 40 students joining us each week. We seek to create a family and a community for these students, a place they can call home. 

We believe that the unfolding of God’s Word brings light, according to Psalm 119:130, and so we seek to help unwrap the Word of God for these students, many of whom have been taught all their lives that there is no God. 

Each Thursday night, a group of ten students gathers to learn how to develop a Bible study, pray for each other, and pray for other students. One of the students then leads the Bible study on Saturday night and the others function as facilitators when we break into small groups. 

It’s so exciting to see them learn how to lead a Bible study. One student who became a believer two years ago said, “I can’t believe I did it! I actually led my first Bible study. Never thought I’d do that.” 

Recently one of the leaders asked, “Do you think you and Walt could buy a bigger house? We really need more room for the Bible study.” A fourth discussion group used our bedroom until we added a sunroom to accommodate the growing numbers. What a wonderful problem to have!

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—Sue Johnston, CCO Associate at Penn State University Park