New Westminster Christian Reformed Church offers ongoing hospitality to a growing number of international students. Students appreciate the meals but return to the Burnaby, British Columbia, church for more than that.
As students are welcomed around food and fellowship, they also receive nourishment in conversations centered on faith and discipleship.
The students come from nearby Simon Fraser University and Douglas College.
New Westminster’s lead pastor, Rev. Andrew Beunk, is excited about this growing unofficial campus ministry, the seeds for which grew out of conversations between Beunk and church member Daniel Kim.
Kim, who has hands-on cross-cultural experiences in business management, emigrated from Korea via India to pursue doctoral studies in cross-cultural management. Now a research professor at SFU, Kim shared with Beunk his deep desire to develop ongoing friendships with international students and scholars through a church family. New Westminster CRC was perfectly situated to be that welcoming church family.
An initial invitation to a few guests for a Thanksgiving dinner became a weekly luncheon and reflection time after the morning worship service with an increasing number of students and scholars.
Church members got involved after being invited to a seminar on welcoming internationals and becoming friendship partners.
“I am deeply grateful for how a number of our members, especially some of our senior ones, went out of their way to meet and welcome our new guests,” said Beunk. “The Asian culture has great respect for their elders, and this contact with our members has a significant impact.”
Through an online Bible study, Beunk continues to have contact with students who have returned to their home countries.
From its informal beginnings, the group has grown into a recognized ministry called MOSAIC: “Multicultural gathering with an Open invitation for Satisfying food and friendship that is Attentive to Inquisitive conversation about Christianity”—a long phrase for simple, Christ-like hospitality.