Anglican International Student Ministry Network (AISMN) Holds Historic 1st Gathering
Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told. Hab. 1:9
The recently launched Anglican International Student Ministry Network (AISMN) held its first conference to connect Anglicans seeking to reach the 1.6 million international students currently in North America. The AISMN is led by co-directors Lisa and Leiton Chinn, and SAMS Missionary Rev. Dr. Mary McDonald, and assisted by New Wineskins Executive Director Jenny Noyes.
“I speak for this network's founders, we were utterly amazed at the Lord bringing twenty-two participants to the conference from Canada, China, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina to Eastern University outside of Philadelphia, PA on May 31. Many stayed the weekend for additional training at the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals (ACMI) conference,” McDonald stated.
AISMN is a group of Anglicans involved in international student ministry around the world. They are committed to offering hospitality to students and scholars who study and work in a country not their own. When there is interest and trust, we share our Christian faith.
The true value of networking was experienced as people from different churches shared their ideas. TIPS, Truro International Program Services, founders Lisa and Leiton Chinn as well as Linda Sellevaag, Karen Kirk, Rev. David Jones, and recent TIPS intern Julie Meadows told fabulous success stories of the program’s 33-year ministry. Jose Garrigo, the current director of TIPS was teleconferenced in to give his valuable insights on making Anglican churches more welcoming to outsiders including having more multi-ethnic staff and involving internationals in the planning and running of the programs early on so it is truly “their” program.
Lisa Oelerich, Alpha USA/New England was also "ZOOMed" in to share about the Alpha for internationals materials and encouraged people to use it as an excellent resource to bring internationals to Christ.
SAMS Bridger Rev. Deb Carr and her husband Chuck Carr along with Rev. Bo and Lilly Ubbens spoke of befriending and “parenting” international students at Trinity Seminary in Ambridge, PA.
Jean and Steve Louie, at William and Mary University in Virginia said their “International Student Ministry is organic and grew from nothing. They just help students adjust to American culture. The ministry is eat, eat, eat, plus professional mentoring.” They have a Meet & Greet each fall, a winery outing, football and Lunar New Year parties, and celebrate holidays with the students. The couple was thrilled to network with other Anglicans ministering among internationals, and we are thrilled to have them in the network!
My husband Jack and I shared about our ministry to internationals at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. We love having the students out to our farm to milk a cow, ride a horse or play American football out in the pasture. Our lives have been immeasurably enriched by befriending these student who are so far away from home. We also shared with the AISMN group our idea for a possible regional conference for international students.
ASIMN was blessed by the attendance of internationals, Syncia Yin Chan, with ISMC National Team Communications and Nicole Schlichter, their city-director from Quebec, Canada. We even had two New Zealand guests sharing about their student work in China where ISM is exploding. Additionally, we had a guest share about the Southern Baptist denomination’s experience with ISM.
The ASIMN was “A mountaintop experience!” according to Dr. Mike Medley, former Director of the Intensive English Program at Eastern Mennonite University and now Parish Administrator at Church of the Incarnation in Harrisonburg, VA. He brought Ross Gulliver, who had just returned from ten months of teaching ESL in China. Ross shared about "Conversation Corners" at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA and listed ideas for connecting with other ministries.
The conference time concluded with prayer for each other’s outreach to internationals and plans for the continued ministry of AISMN which hopes to include tracks at various Diocesan Synod gatherings, the ACNA's Provincial Assembly in June and the New Wineskins conference in September 2019.
We are currently developing plans for how this network can best stay connected and continued to share ideas between sponsored events. If you would like to be involved with the network or to have a copy of the notes from this historic conference, please email email@example.com.
Rev. Dr. Mary McDonald, SAMS missionary, served overseas as a veterinarian teaching animal husbandry and overseeing community development programs. Now Mary and her husband Jack use their farm in southwestern Virginia to prepare U.S. vet teams for global ministry and to host international student events. Mary co-leads the new AISMN ministry.