Lee Leadbetter - January 2021

Welcoming the Nations to
The University of Tennessee

Sticking Together
Most of us were more than glad to welcome in the new year, but it remains to be seen if the much-longed for predictability and peace that so eluded us in 2020 will indeed be found in 2021.  If we eradicated the Coronavirus and erased the social strife in our world would that be enough to bring rest to our souls?  If schools stayed open and people had jobs and homes became happier places would we experience the joy we are so hungry for?  

Our international friends at UT whose passports read country names like "Turkey", "Pakistan", "France" and "Costa Rica" - just like us so often - are searching for something here and now that will steady and satisfy them.   Our earnest desire for each of them is to discover through Jesus the Prince of Peace how they too can live with the ultimate security and significance as a citizen of heaven.  In our ministry we get to be a kind of family for international students - to stick with them during their years in the U.S., including in their valleys and on their mountaintops. 

Students & Leaders: A Microcosm of the RUF-I Family

Last Wednesday morning, I got to enjoy one last cup of coffee with my dear Muslim friend "M" from the Middle East.  As I write, he's en route with his wife and 2 young children back home, after 6 years of a grueling PhD program.  That morning after coffee we sat in my car outside his apartment, and he allowed me to pray for him before saying goodbye.  His family's imminent transition back home will be anything but easy.  Sadly, we can't show his face here, as a few of his friends were murdered this past year, and his own mother threatened, for Facebook posts that were perceived as "western leaning." 
I prayed for "M"'s protection related to travel, Covid, and reintegrating into a dangerous society.  I thanked God for the opportunity to walk in friendship with "M" through his many challenges while he was here - ethnic and religious discrimination, isolation due to the pandemic, and overwhelming economic hardships.  I reflected on God's power and goodness in his life 3 years ago when the Lord seemingly miraculously intervened at high government levels to provide the continued academic funding he desperately needed.  And I asked the Lord to build upon "M"'s rich experiences while here - including our many faith conversations and his countless experiences of friendship within our RUF-I family.  Please pray for "M" to reach out and grab onto Christ as his eternal refuge and strength.    

Your Prayers & Financial Support Are Making a HUGE Difference! 
The Leadbetter Family
Prayer Requests
-Praise God for our ministry's ability last fall to gather safely in person  
-Pray for 2 students who've recently lost close family members to Covid 
-Pray for our Ministry Team dinner on 1/19 & RUF-I Game Night on 1/22 
-Pray for our spring Dinner & Discovery series in homes beginning on 1/28 as we explore Jesus' "Parables"
-Praise God for our wonderful team of staff & volunteers who love international students so well
-Praise God for using RUF-I to help a student in a visa dilemma & another student in a crisis with her advisor