Lee and Jen Leadbetter - June 2019
Summer ministry activities are now beginning to flower, and as we reflect on the past year, we once again are filled with joy as we consider all that God has done among the nations at The University of Tennessee through RUF International. We have been blessed to form relationships with friends from far away places like El Salvador and Egypt, Brazil and Botswana, Indonesia and Iran, Slovenia and Sri Lanka. They have enriched and sharpened us, and we haveshared our lives and the Gospel of grace with them. We marvel at how Christ has been at work through us, and through you!
Hooray You Made It!
Every year in early May, smack-dab in the middle of finals, we throw one final party for our global guests to celebrate their success of reaching the finish line. This year was no exception! My parents (once again) graciously hosted about 130 of our volunteers and global guests from some 25 countries. It was a special night of great ethnic food, music, goodbyes and gifts to graduates, friendly competition on the volleyball and tennis courts, and extra fun with our water balloon toss and fireworks extravaganza.
Summer plans with RUF-I include hosting 3 Movie & Discussion nights, biking the
Virginia Creeper Trail, and rafting the Nantahala River in NC. This is also a time for fundraising, staff training, speaking at churches, and study for the fall.
When Helping Helps
Our dear friend, Leticia from Guatemala is one the happiest human I’ve ever met! Sadly for her, though, she encountered a serious crisis this past semester when she became the victim of a scam which left her $2,350 in debt to her bank. She soon realized that an as outsider without resources, and with her admission to grad school potentially in jeopardy, she needed help. So, she turned to RUF-I.
Because of our relationship with her, our position on campus, and community
connections, we were able to gain a hearing for Leticia with high level banking executives who ultimately cut her debt in half. And then, through the generosity of our volunteer Ministry Team, we raised enough money so that Leticia only lost $150 in the end. Yet, what she gained through this experience of loss has been far greater!
At one point in the “valley” Leticia told me through her tears: “Now I know why God brought me here, so I could meet you all in order to help me grow in my faith, especially in times like this. When you pray for patience, it seems like God puts you in difficult situations so that he can grow patience in you where it did not exist before.” Recently, she’s been devouring Prodigal God by Tim Keller, and so excited to continue exploring God’s grace for her in Jesus.
Moving Homes & Kids
Probably the biggest bit of recent news is that we’ve decided to move around the corner in order to cut corners financially - thanks to growing kids who now eat more, drive cars, and want to do crazy things like go to like college! The only option of staying in our neighborhood was to buy now but rent for one year, when the current owner will be prepared to move out. So, Jen’s real estate knowledge has grown exponentially as she’s been handling all 4 contracts!
Annie & Neissa have now been with us for 6 years (Haiti was half a lifetime ago for them!). In the fall, Neissa will be “Queen Bee” in 5th grade and Annie will be a small fish in a big pond as a new 6th grader, though making the girls BMS volleyball team (way to go!) will hopefully help her meet some other new fish! This summer both girls will try their best to stay water-logged at the community pool, and are looking forward to a week at Camp Arrowood. We’re super proud of Phillip for being just 7/10 of 1 point away from having all A’s this year! This summer he’ll be lifeguarding again, looking at colleges, doing ACT studying to boost scholarship possibilities, and playing summer basketball for West HS. We’re glad to have Daniel home from college! He’s working for an athletic company in town, while keeping up with football workouts in preparation for his sophomore season at Wheaton College, near Chicago (colder than Antarctica last winter!).
Leaving a Mark
The long-term effect of ministry is often hard to trace out, and can’t be reduced to formulas and figures. Yet, numbers can be helpful in getting a sense of the “shape” a
ministry takes. May God be praised for the great things He has been pleased to do through RUF-I at UT this past year!
God has used YOUR praying, giving, and serving this past year to leave a mark on the lives of 350+ students from 55 nations. We were blessed to partner with 18 churches, serve alongside 85 volunteers, offer 15 off campus “hospitality” events for global guests, host 14 on-campus Dinner & Discussion events to explore Christianity, gather 10x with other UT international student ministries, meet 9x as a ministry team, lead 9 small groups for internationals, and sit face to face more than 1000x with students and scholars from around the world to show & tell about Jesus’ self-emptying love at the cross. THANK YOU!!!
In Their Own Words
Had a great time at the Easter Celebration today! Really saw Jesus presence as the event unfolded and had some great biblical conversations with some of the internationals!” (Sibo, female undergrad exchange student from Zimbabwe)
I’ve gone through extremely sad moments in life that I could tackle and defeat. Now I’m at the edge of getting a big relief and fulfilling all the commitments after years of planning and hard work…But at this moment my whole future feels shut down…I can’t explain how grateful I am to you and I hope God will help me during this tough moment in my life.” (Grad student from the Middle East)
Thank you for all RUF-I has done for me and other internationals these past 4 years. I’ve really been influenced through our conversations, especially this last year.” (Yancheng – Phd student from China in Economics)
So That the Nations may be Glad and Sing for Joy,