Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Heather Ardrey, InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (GFM), shared some of her response to the events of Boston Marathon 2013. Today Michael, another colleague with GFM who also teaches in Boston, provides additional insight with a focus on international students. As you have stories, reflections, and/or prayer requests to share about the extraordinary circumstances in Boston last week, please post in the comments section below and/or email ESN. Whatever your circumstances, feelings, research, thoughts, and assignments, please join me in offering this new week to the LORD in earnest prayer. ~ Thomas B. Grosh IV
Early last Friday morning, at the beginning on my long drive in to Boston, I received a text from the university where I teach English to international students, informing me that school was closed (as was subsequently, much of the city) so I turned around and headed back home. A little later, I learned that one of my teaching colleagues and her family had to leave their home in Watertown, because two bullets from the early morning shootout between police and the two bombing suspects had come through the wall of their children’s bedroom, thus making their home a designated “crime scene”. Thankfully, they are all safe, but you can imagine how upsetting this must have been (and likely still is) for them.
In the daylong media coverage of the developing situation, ABC news cited a FB post from the older brother of the two suspects from a few years ago, “not a single American friend,” along with expressed concerns about a lack of values here in America. Commentators have framed these sentiments as possibly linked to the radicalization process typical of extremists . . .
By way of contrast, one of the women killed in Monday’s bomb blast was an international graduate student from China, who had been taking part in the InterVarsity international fellowship at her university. God knows where she was on the path of responding to the gospel, but evidently, in combination with the community she experienced, it was striking a chord within her heart.
President Obama did a good job, I believe in his address at the interfaith memorial service on Thursday in portraying Boston as a “state of grace” that welcomed immigrants and international students, and spoke of the positive value and benefits that come from their sojourn and residence here, not only for the nation, but for the world.
As we move forward from the events of last week, I would ask you to pray in particular for international students — in Boston, at schools throughout New England, and in the rest of the country:
- Pray that they will see the kindness and welcome of God’s people, that comes from our being loved and reconciled to God through Christ.
- Pray for Lu Lingzi’s family in China and other families, friends and fellow students who are grieving and/or recovering from serious injuries from Monday’s blast.
- Pray that students both from the US and from around the world with whom we work and minister, especially in Boston, will not be overcome by fear, will receive help and healing for any debilitating anxiety and trauma, and that others will not be deterred from coming to the US because of what has happened this week.
The focus of our weekly IV grad/international fellowship here in Amherst on Friday night was God’s faithfulness in the midst of the reality of evil in our present world. May we all continue our work with confidence in God’s goodness, power and love, and be renewed in our commitment to extend His welcome and invitation to those we meet from both near and far, who have yet to experience His grace and peace.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!