Volunteer loves sharing Jesus with internationals
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes…” (Romans 1:16)
There's a dream that we’ve all had before: the fence surrounding the yard, the kids playing with the dog, and the sense that everything is just right in our corners of the world. As it turns out, even with those aesthetics, the reality doesn’t always meet expectations.
“I grew up right around here in Pickerington, Ohio. I moved here when I was like eight or nine. [I] didn't grow up in a Christian home or a church environment or much of that. Being in the suburbs, I had a lot of things provided, but spent a lot of time not exactly knowing what the future would hold, and what other people thought of me.”
Chris Lady, a key volunteer with IFI, struggled with low self-esteem and self worth throughout his adolescence. He grew up in a broken home, with parents that weren’t typically present. But God had a plan.
“One of my friends invited me to something called Young Life: a ministry to high school students. It’s a lot of fun, games, and adventure - all in the effort to accurately show high schoolers the love of God through the person of Jesus. There was a college student who spent a lot of his time in Pickerington with people like me, and loved me so much to share the Gospel with me, and walk with me through the doubts and just not knowing what I didn't know.”
Chris didn’t stop there. Spending extensive time in Bible studies and reviewing Christian literature, Chris kept asking questions and searching for answers. Eventually, he came to a conclusion: “If this is true, this is the greatest news of all time. And if it's not true, it's the greatest lie ever told. So it's nothing really in between.”
But he wanted to know for sure. He wanted to have confidence that there is a heavenly Father that cares for him and gives him far more than he could ever deserve. So he asked for Jesus; and then he saw Him work. Jesus removed a heart full of self pity and sadness, and gave Chris the capacity to care for others.
“Once I experienced the love of God, much of my life then became about sharing this love with others.”
God provided Chris more opportunities to share this love, even in his professional life. After graduating with a degree in Mathematics, Chris moved to Atlanta to work for a corporation as an IT tech. He loved the work, but he noticed something special about the workplace.
“Every single person around me is an international. I didn't know these people even existed. I got lunch with people and heard about the politics of India, Pakistan and all these different places. The really cool added bonus is that it seemed to just open up relationships and conversations with people that I would normally never cross paths with.”
Moving back to Ohio, Chris began leading a small team for a different company, developing his relationship building skills. Chris also continued to volunteer with Young Life, hoping to help more people develop a relationship with Christ. Then God put two and two together, expanding Chris’ view of His dream.
“The more I started reading in the Bible, the whole thing, it just started to jump out at me: God cares about the whole world. God has always been about the nations. I didn't need someone to tell me that. He's telling me this; I can’t escape it.”
After showing Chris the nations, God led him to International Friendships.
“I get to this potluck and it's the United Nations all under one roof. So that's kind of where I got exposed and got to meet some really cool people. I started praying and asking God: ‘alright, is this the field that you want me to serve you in? Lord, what do you want?’ And He just began making that more and more clear that this is the space that He wanted me in.”
So Chris jumped in. He began volunteering with IFI, helping at events, hosting students and participating in Bible discussion groups. Chris then began to recognize a calling to develop relationships with Hindu students and walk with them through an exploration of who Jesus is. All the while, Chris found that his own faith, trust, and love for God was growing with each day.
“I will become loud and ineffective very quickly without a real personal relationship with Jesus. So I think that's one of the tangential fruits: it's caused me to need to cling closely to Jesus because this ministry will regularly put me in places where my words, my expertise just don't mean that much. We are always learning how to just walk by faith. We just say yes, and God often works it out.”
With a yes, Chris’ life changed forever, with a new heart pulling him closer to Jesus. That’s the power of the Gospel. Chris has a new dream too: to offer the opportunity for as many internationals as he can to reply to Jesus with their own yes. He’s just happy he gets to see it come true with IFI.
“I think when we know that Jesus is that good and His purpose and commission is that worthy of our lives, then it’s just a question of how, not if. If it is through IFI, congrats, because this is the best kept secret in the whole city.”