“I have nothing to lose by following Christ, but everything to lose by not following Him.” - Aleesia

Just a few years ago, Aleesia traveled from her home in Europe to enroll in a U.S. university. She arrived alone and without the hope of the Gospel. Now, after 15 months of intentional discipleship from faithful believers, she’s returning home having gained an adoptive family in the states and a blossoming relationship in Christ. She said there are too many “coincidences” to not believe in Jesus. She now understands the differences between a relationship with God versus an empty obligation to God in a cold, works-based religion.

This would not have happened if a group from our local church (The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN) had not welcomed international students studying at our local university into their lives. These believers started by partnering with the university to explore ways to engage international students. They decided to host a weekly dinner on-campus to create a neutral and open opportunity for conversations. They showed a genuine interest in their lives. They invited them into their homes, listened to their hurts, and laughed with them in their joys. They knew they were not there to transform them - only God can. However, they exemplified a 1 Thessalonians 2:8 life - they “were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but [their] lives as well.” They were the aroma of Christ. Through this effort, God began to work in the hearts of the students.

It was through these relationships they were able to begin a Discovery Bible Study. Because of their relational trust and love, the students came. They proclaimed the Gospel and discipled many international students who had no families close by and no faith to cling to. These meetings started small but grew over time. Aleesia was part of this group and returned often to learn about the Gospel, leading to her eventually placing her faith in Christ.