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Imagine just for a moment, what it might be like to go to college in Mozambique. Or Turkey. Or Pakistan, London, Brazil, Quito, Montreal, Beijing. The food is strange. The clothing is strange. The language is strange. It’s probably scary and confusing and lonely.

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Since 1998, Jim and Mary Mather have led the Friends of Internationals ministry at the University of South Alabama and served as surrogate family for students who are worlds away from the comforts of home.

As Jim explains, Friends of Internationals is a ministry focused on developing God honoring friendship with international students, refugees and immigrants living in the Mobile area. For the Mathers, this looks a lot like sharing meals, opening up their home, creating events, forming authentic relationships, and teaching the Bible with international students on campus.

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“The University of South Alabama has a diverse population of students from dozens of nations,” Jim shares. “The importance of the FOI ministry relates to the clear direction of the great commission to make disciples of all nations. Students who graduate from Universities in the United States frequently become leaders in their home countries and play a strategic role in leading their nations futures.”

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The Mathers say one of the biggest challenges of serving the community of international students is loving people that are different than us. “It takes time and wisdom in developing significant relationships that honor the students and reflect God’s love,” Jim says. 

But of course it’s worth it. Jim shared one story in particular that meant a lot to both him and Mary. A young man named Hisashi Kojima came to Christ during his time studying Nursing in Mobile. The Mathers became close with him as they helped him through FOI. When he got engaged, he invited the Mathers to his wedding in Tokyo, and they were able to go! Jim writes that during their time there, they were able to connect with around 30 former Japanese student. Jim goes on to say that being able to hear how the ministry of Friends of Internationals impacted so many lives was very affirming and encouraging. 

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Here at Mars Hill, we are partnering with Friends of Internationals to develop an international worship community called Friends of Internationals Church. 

“The vision is to develop an ongoing community of believers and seekers of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds into a spiritual family that loves and knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” explains Jim. 

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Friends of Internationals Church meets the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month at 4pm. This is a great opportunity to get involved with a ministry that serves people from all over the world! 

Other ways church members can be involved in serving the international community is by providing food, befriending students, attending events and activities, offering to assist student in getting around town, or maybe even opening their homes during holidays when dorms close. 

As Jim explains, Friends of Internationals is a ministry focused on developing God honoring friendship with international students, refugees and immigrants living in the Mobile area. For the Mathers, this looks a lot like sharing meals, opening up their home, creating events, forming authentic relationships, and teaching the Bible with international students on campus.

“The University of South Alabama has a diverse population of students from dozens of nations,” Jim shares. “The importance of the FOI ministry relates to the clear direction of the great commission to make disciples of all nations. Students who graduate from Universities in the United States frequently become leaders in their home countries and play a strategic role in leading their nations futures.”

The Mathers say one of the biggest challenges of serving the community of international students is loving people that are different than us. “It takes time and wisdom in developing significant relationships that honor the students and reflect God’s love,” Jim says. 

But of course it’s worth it. Jim shared one story in particular that meant a lot to both him and Mary. A young man named Hisashi Kojima came to Christ during his time studying Nursing in Mobile. The Mathers became close with him as they helped him through FOI. When he got engaged, he invited the Mathers to his wedding in Tokyo, and they were able to go! Jim writes that during their time there, they were able to connect with around 30 former Japanese student. Jim goes on to say that being able to hear how the ministry of Friends of Internationals impacted so many lives was very affirming and encouraging. 

Here at Mars Hill, we are partnering with Friends of Internationals to develop an international worship community called Friends of Internationals Church.  “The vision is to develop an ongoing community of believers and seekers of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds into a spiritual family that loves and knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,” explains Jim. 

Friends of Internationals Church meets the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month at 4pm at Mars Hill 1087 Downtowner Blvd.

Mobile, Ala 36609. This is a great opportunity to get involved with a ministry that serves people from all over the world! 

Other ways church members can be involved in serving the international community is by providing food, befriending students, attending events and activities, offering to assist student in getting around town, or maybe even opening their homes during holidays when dorms close. Pray for students to be open to the gospel.

Prayer:

Pray for students to be open to the gospel.

Pray for students to have the provision needed to stay in school. 

Pray for students battling loneliness and adjustment to new culture, language. 

Pray for God to provide the finances necessary for ministry and daily living expenses for the Mather Family (they are faith missionaries dependent on God’s people to supply all their needs.) 

Pray for favor with the administration of the University of South Alabama.

Written by: Tricia Butts. She is the Communication Coordinator at Mars Hill Church in Mobile, AL. Original blog at https://www.pomh.org/blog-posts/2019/11/14/0b3qld3onl3k9i0rtz86jdsfch3zae

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