Fresno is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with over 90 ethnic groups represented in its population. A large segment of its population lives below the poverty level. Over the years, the InterVarsity staff members in the city have developed ministries to the poor and the international students. Randy White pioneered the Urban Plunge. In this Spring Break program, students partner with ministries that work with the poor in Fresno. Randy has also organized ministry opportunities throughout the school year. For instance, in a program called Wise Old Owl Tutoring, members of the Fresno InterVarsity chapter tutor children in the Lowell community of Fresno.
InterVarsity also presents the Gospel of Christ to the international students at Fresno State University. This effort has resulted in a thriving ministry to international students, which includes weekly meetings, Bible studies, and even a week-long camp in the summer. Recently, some international students helped in the Wise Old Owl Tutoring program.
This spring Ann Fehr, InterVarsity staff member for the International Student Ministry, asked the students in the International Student Fellowship if any of them would like to spend “a concentrated weekend dipping into God’s work more deeply, studying His Word, hearing from people whose lives have been changed.” Six Japanese, one Korean, and one Hmong said yes. Five of these students were not Christians.
The weekend was a full one for the students as they spent time in the inner city of Fresno. The staff led them in Bible studies teaching them about God’s concern for the poor. One young man shared with the students how the love of Jesus called him to live in the inner city and serve the people there. Saturday evening the students ate dinner with the men at the Rescue Mission. The congregation of a local church welcomed the students for Sunday worship. One of the students played the piano for the service. At the woman’s shelter, other students taught the women oriental cooking, the intricacies of an oriental dance and even some Japanese calligraphy. The results of the calligraphy lesson are shown in the illustration of this article. The children at the shelter were given these calligraphy banners as a memento of the students visit.
The Holy Spirit was at work in the international students who participated in the weekend. One student responded, “There are many things that I should learn. I try to read Bible from now on. Now I could know some part of Jesus.” Another commented, “The first significant thing I learned was for me to fully accept Jesus in my heart. I’ve been trying to walk uphill by myself.” A third student wrote, “I got more interested in Jesus and the poor because I’ve seen people help the poor with love of God.”
It is true that they will know of Christ because of the love that Christians show to others. The i-dip in Fresno, where international students saw Christians loving the poor, was a good example of this. The Gospel was presented in powerful terms, and the students responded to the message.