Antioch student group creates ‘homes away from home’ with food, community

Jamie Wong and Jin Hee Kim lead a home church group based out of Antioch Community Church for international students. Claire Boston | Multimedia Journalist

By Elise Crosley | Reporter

Most international students come to Baylor not knowing anyone, with their families thousands of miles away. While cell phones exist, they say it’s oftentimes difficult to find a time to contact their families, as they are usually on completely opposite sleeping schedules.

Antioch Community Church provides “home groups” for international students to have a place to go and be with other students in similar situations. They are student-led groups located in student homes. They come together to share and eat foods from their home countries. After eating, they sit together and study the Bible, talk about life and pray for one another.

One of the leaders of the group, Taiwan graduate Jamie Wong, offers up her home to host their time together each week. She’s currently getting her masters in curriculum and instruction at Baylor.

“We believe that through Jesus, everyone has a community and a family here, even in America,” Wong said. “Our goal is to gather people and create a safe space for them to learn about who God is and build friendships and community here. We eat food together. We believe food is a really big thing, especially in Asian cultures, in bringing people together and making it feel more like a family.”

Wong has invited many of her fellow international friends to the home group, and it has made quite an impact on those who have attended.

“I came to Baylor so I could learn more about God,” South Korea junior Michell Hur said. “However, I couldn’t find God, and I couldn’t find the right community to share my faith with my freshman and sophomore year. I was very confused. I didn’t know who to talk to. I ran into Jamie, and she invited me to this. As I began to come, we noticed that I didn’t know God at all. So, we went back to studying why Jesus died for us. That education grew into love and that turned into loving myself and my community. I grew a lot from that.”

Over a dozen students often show up for home groups, and the community is continuing to grow each week. Students find out about it through friends who attend or through Antioch.

“I would come, and they would open their arms and talk to me like a person,” Nigeria junior Clementina Akpomedaye said. “They would remember my name. They wanted to have deep conversations. It’s not just the Christian aspect of it, it’s the familial aspect as well. We’re all international. We all understand what it’s like.”

Hong Kong senior Shirley Fok said it was difficult making friends in her classes, but this home group gave her a family very quickly.

“[The people in this home group] were my first real friends here,” Fok said. “They treat me so well. They provide us food. They’re willing to listen to what we need. I just feel like home here. You feel love in here. They really recognize you.”