Lee and I work with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Students from Around the World

"Chi Alpha International (XAI) happens every Friday night during the semester @ 7 pm at the yellow house behind Taco Bell." Those words roll off of my tongue so easily now because we've said them so often. I think even Bella knows this phrase. Repetition works, though.

We have had many international students come to the Chi Alpha house (which is different than our Cafe Chi Alpha) on Friday nights representing many different nations. Just this school year - 2010/2011, we've had students from: Nepal, Haiti, Cameroon, Columbia, Cuba, Panama, several Muslim countries in the Middle East, India, Honduras, China, Vietnam, Nigeria...and many more!

It's been amazing to meet these students and develop relationships with them. I think that international students are the bravest students in the world. I cannot imagine going to another country where my first language is not spoken - and learn in that language!! I can barely speak another language...I don't know how I would learn in another one!!

To make this a little easier on them, we hope to provide these students with a comfortable environment to make new friends, learn about America, Louisiana, Lafayette. We also want them to feel free to share their culture with us because we truly want to celebrate their cultures with them.

We also have the opportunity to share what the Christian Bible has to say...discover the teachings of Jesus Christ together. A lot of these students are open to learning about Christianity. It's one thing to hear about it, but to study it is a different thing. These international students are actually excited about it because they want to see it for themselves.

I cannot imagine going to another country, or anywhere really, and have someone tell me that everything I learned about my faith is wrong...that my parents were wrong. And for some of these students, it would be like I was telling them that every one of their ancestors was wrong for not following Christianity. So, we don't do that. We hold the discussions. They are free to ask questions. We are there to answer questions. Honestly, there have been some tense moments over the past year when these discussions were held. But there has never been anyone who has felt unwanted on a Friday night.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Celebrating Leadership

Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A day of celebrating diversity. What a great way to celebrate it - holding a leadership training day for our UL Chi Alpha leaders. The spring semester is starting, and these students are ready to continue the work they started in the fall.

Sometimes it is hard to start again. The momentum has to be restarted. For some, this is harder than for others. No one knows what each student faced as they were home for the past few weeks. Some went home to very difficult situations. Others went home and got comfortable there and may not be ready to face the discomfort of sharing their lives with others again. It can take a lot to get back into the mindset of school, too.

But, Chi Alpha is off and running again. Lee is getting to encourage and speak life into his guys. He loves them so much. And we know that they love him, too. It's a special relationship - a brotherhood...a bromance. He definitely celebrates these guys and what they are doing on the campus of UL. They are out to change the world, one student at a time.