Friendship Knows No Boundaries

 

 

 Friendship Knows No Boundaries

Recently I wrote an article called “The Holy Spirit at Work in Japan,” published in the November issue of The Pittsburgh Lutheran. It concerned the amazing meeting of Michiko, a Christian from Osaka, Japan and Steve (not his real name) a Muslim from Pakistan.

To continue the story, Steve called All Saints from Japan, where he is studying and has become fluent in Japanese. He talked about the wonderful meeting he’d had with Michiko and her family. He had met them because All Saints’ Campus Ministry Director had told him about how Michiko’s brother had spent time at All Saints while a student at Slippery Rock University.

After the glowing call from Steve, I asked if he would write a few sentences describing what he’d experienced while a student here. I had hoped for a few words, but he wrote an essay called “Friendship Knows No Boundaries.” I am delighted to share his letter because it is so encouraging. It shows that God the Holy Spirit uses campus ministry to be an instrument for sharing the Gospel. Truthfully, we in campus ministry need this encouragement because we often talk about the growing number of international and American students who do not seem to want to even hear about Jesus’ love. This is a stunning example of just the opposite: God is still at work among college students.

Friendship Knows No Boundaries

by Steve

Friendship is such a beautiful thing, and it is amazing how we find friends in the most unexpected of places. I came to Slippery Rock around four years ago in 2014 and it was my first time outside of my home country of Pakistan. I had come on a cultural exchange program for about five months and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I made so many wonderful friends, one of whom was Mrs. Augusta Mennell … I had never been to a church before, and since faith is an important part of life for many people in America, I wanted to experience church worship and learn about the Christian faith. Mr. and Mrs. Mennell were so kind to invite me to the All Saints Lutheran Church to experience Sunday prayer there.

Next Sunday, I went to the church and was welcomed wholeheartedly by the community that gathered there to worship our Creator. It was my first-time experiencing church prayer and what a wonderful and beautiful experience it was. I still remember the magnificent feeling I had there, and the beautiful songs the faithful were singing there, praising God. I can still recall some of the lines from the songs and hymns that were sung there, even though it has been almost 4 years. One of those songs that has stuck in my heart and memory is “How Great Thou Art.” Sometimes I find myself singing the lyrics to that song without even noticing. It could be at night or morning or even when I am taking a walk somewhere; I would start humming this song that is still close to me. It is such a beautiful and grasping song that I absolutely love. I am so grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Mennell for sharing with me this experience and giving me everlasting memories full of love and joy.

Even after coming back to Pakistan and my home University in Lahore I kept in touch through letters and postcards. All Saints genuinely cares about people and loves them, no matter where they are from, I always feel rejoiced whenever I receive their letters. They make me really happy and peaceful.

This year I came to Japan in the city of Osaka to pursue my graduate studies, and the new chapter of my life began. Sometime later, Mrs. Mennell told me that she has friends in Japan. Somehow, I got connected with her and found out she lives in the very next city to where I live in Osaka. So, a few days ago I met her, and we took a trip to Kyoto together to meet her parents. They were all such lovely, heartwarming and welcoming people. I really felt happy and elated after meeting them and hope to meet again. At their home, I saw pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Mennell and the logo of Slippery Rock University, and it made me think how closely connected the world is.

Think about it. I, as a Pakistani student, came to the United States and met Mrs. Mennell; and then years later I came to Japan and, through Mrs. Mennell, met and befriended such wonderful and loving people here. God really is great, and the world surely is more beautiful when we think about how interconnected our lives are, and how love and friendship and human connections know no boundaries. I know that these experiences will remain part of my life forever, and I hope that I remain in touch and in love and friendship with all the wonderful and loving people that I’ve met during my life. Stay blessed!

Steve later sent me a handwritten note dated September 23, 2018:

Another interesting thing. The other day I was coming back from the supermarket and I saw Michiko on the way. It was incredible. She told me that she works there close to where I live. Hopefully, I’ll meet her again and her lovely parents.

Steve is not yet a Christian. Please pray that he will be led by the Holy Spirit to faith in Jesus Christ. This is All Saints’ prayer, too.

 

Augusta R. Mennell

Campus Ministry Director

All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center

Slippery Rock PA 16057