By Rachel Chiang | Reporter
Baylor Asian Ministry InterVarsity is a chapter of a national ministry that strives to “establish and advance at colleges and universities witnessing communities of students and faculty who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord: growing in love for God, God’s Word, God’s people of every ethnicity and culture and God’s purposes in the world,” according to its website.
Houston senior and co-president Nicole Ma said the organization’s mission and purpose is to serve the Asian American student community on campus.
“We’re a group of Asian American students who come together and just talk about and celebrate our culture and our ethnicities, but also find a different way to connect with Jesus and to connect with God,” Ma said.
Ma said although they are an ethnic-based ministry, they are not exclusive and welcome all cultures and ethnicities. She said they have specifically been trying to reach out to foreign exchange and international students on campus recently.
Ma also said when people first come from a different country to the U.S., they often don’t have cars and need rides to get groceries, eat and go to church, so they actively try to provide those resources for students in those situations and freshmen who don’t have cars in general.
When the organization tables, Ma said people often get hesitant when they hear they are a Christian or Asian organization, so the organization has been emphasizing relationships to make people feel welcomed and connected regardless of their race or religion.
“We want to get to know you as a person, not as just another number,” Ma said. “It’s another really big thing that we do, to just be relational, be genuine, be intentional.”
Arlington senior and co-president Mandy Lok said the organization has been extending those relationships to international students.
“Each year, there are usually two or three international students that come out,” Lok said. “I think sometimes it’s a language barrier because they know we’re Asian, but not all of us have that language ability to communicate with them. And they also have a hindrance because of their English. We do try to welcome them as well and connect them with people that can speak better Chinese.”
Lok said although the non-Christian international students don’t typically stay very long, the organization has still been able to provide for them and make them feel welcomed.
“Most of the ones that stick around are Christian, like their parents happen to be missionaries, that’s how they come to Baylor and are Christians,” Lok said. “For the ones that might not be, usually they are brought to [the group] with a friend … and we do try to go out of our way to like be intentional and grab meals with them. Even if it’s small interactions, even taking them to church and things like that, they definitely enjoy the company. Because as international students, it’s already hard for you to interact with people, so even just a place where you can hang out with people can mean a lot.”
Lok said personally, being able to have an organization dedicated to Asian ethnicities has made her feel at home.
“I think it definitely feels a lot more comforting, and it feels like when you’re in this ministry, you’re at home,” Lok said.
Arlington junior and large group leader Jonathan Nguyen said the organization’s genuineness has really made him feel welcomed.
“It seems like everyone in [the group] makes really lasting friendships,” Nguyen said. “I can tell you that I have friends that I know I will keep post-graduate. It’s just people you see everywhere. You can stop and say hi, you can just sit down and grab lunch or you can text when you’re feeling low. It’s people who actually care about your life and care about your spiritual growth.”