Finding a Home Away From Home

On Saturday nights, a group of 20 or more international university students gather at Indian Community Church in Framingham, Massachusetts, for a special ministry designed just for them. 

The ministry, which is the brainchild of Lead Pastor Suresh Sammangi, targets the many international students attending universities in the Boston area, from Harvard University to Boston College to Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

“Many of these students are intellectual people with no God,” he says. “It was on my heart to bring the gospel to every nation. I thought this ministry would be a good opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people from all over the world.”

Sammangi, a native of India, says he understands what these students are going through. He traveled to the United States where he earned both his undergraduate and seminary degrees. 

“From 2007 to 2014, I was a student, so I know these international students miss their families, their culture, their food. They miss home and feel homesick,” he says.

The outreach to international students, he says, is a first impression ministry, because international students who visit his church often encounter the gospel and a Christian church leader for the first time.  

The ministry meets on Saturday nights at the church. 

“We have games and we have conversations and we engage with them and share the gospel,” he says. 

To advertise the gatherings, Sammangi says church members ask contacts who work at the colleges and universities to send out emails to the students.

“And we go to the local international markets and stores, and we find them and we invite them,” he says.

He recalls one instance at a meeting when a young woman approached him with a question. 

“That night we did not open the Bible, and we didn’t preach, but I shared about what God was doing in my life and what God had done in the past.”

The student asked, “Does this ‘man’ come into my life and cleanse the sins and what I’ve done?”

This led to a longer conversation. And that night, says Sammangi, eight international students accepted Christ.

Gail Allyn Short
Gail Allyn Short

Gail Allyn Short is freelance writer in Birmingham, Alabama. She leads a nursing home ministry and teaches a Bible study class for new believers at Integrity Bible Church.