New Orleans

Using Hospitality to Reach International Students in New Orleans

international students

When it’s time to cook Christmas dinner, Kimberly Myers always prepares extra for guests—some of the 600 students to whom she ministers at the University of New Orleans. As North American Mission Board collegiate missionary to international students, she uses every possible opportunity to share Jesus with them. She said, “Hospitality is a big part of our ministry.”

It takes planning to reach people from more than 75 countries as diverse as Iran, China, Guatemala, and Germany.

On Sunday afternoons, Kimberly meets the Ladies’ English Club in the married housing complex on campus. Volunteers from a nearby church supervise the children on the playground while the wives of the students spend time together.

The International Center is a bustling place on campus where students come weekly for a cup of coffee and conversation. While they are there, Kimberly invites them to study the Bible. She has been amazed to see God at work when Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists have responded positively.

Outreach—a way of life and who we are

Ryan and Seané Rice’s lives revolve around relationships with people. “Living in New Orleans as a church planter is all about building relationships with people. In fact, this is what our city is all about,” says Ryan. Though Ryan grew up loving VBS and Sunday School as a kid, when he got older, he stopped going and, even disliked the idea of church. He started to go his own way and, in his words, became his “own sort of god.” When he met his wife in college, Ryan began to slowly take the truth of the gospel seriously. Seané would invite him to church and, of course, he tagged along.

Missionary Spotlight Update: Ryan and Seane’ Rice

Ryan and Seane’ Rice continue to minister and see God doing great things through Connect Church of Algiers in New Orleans. Their church is ethnically diverse and they reach out to help many on the fringes of society.

Oak Park Baptist Church, a sister church that had served the community for more than 60 years, fell on some difficult times with declining membership and problems reaching out to the community. The leaders of Connect Church and Oak Park began to talk about the possibility of merging the 2 churches. As the leaders of both congregations talked, they felt the Holy Spirit leading them to come together to better serve their community.

Connecting New Orleans with Jesus

Mardi Gras, great food, and the Saints equal New Orleans. It is one big city made up of unique and very diverse neighborhoods. It’s a city where only 11.6% of the population is evangelical Christian, said Ryan Rice, lead pastor of Connect Church of Algiers.

Rice, a church planter, spent his childhood in the Algiers neighborhood and in January 2009, returned to the neighborhood with his wife, Seane’. Here they are raising their 4 children: Ryan Jr., Brayden, Reagan, and Bailey. Reaching the residents and meeting their needs has required a “tailored approach.” The vision has been to find ways to proclaim a message of hope, healing, and restoration through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It began with family-centered outreaches such as movie nights, meeting at coffee shops, Easter events, and family nights at the park. Over time, trust has been built, allowing the Rices to work through the layers of beliefs that people have regarding what it means to know Jesus.

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