Adam Venters is the Campus Minister for the Metro BCM in the Little Rock area. He is married to Lindsay Venters and has two boys (Beau and Rigby).
One of the incredible opportunities the BCM Campus Minister has is getting to know and interact with international students that come to Arkansas universities. Bekah Gulledge, who serves on staff at the Metro BCM in Little Rock, recently shared a story about her most recent opportunity to be involved with Diwali, an Indian celebration.
Here is what Bekah had to say:
“International student ministry has been difficult to navigate during COVID-19 times, but it has not ended. Usually, we would have tons of new students, new student orientations to be a part of, dinners to host, and conversation clubs to host. But all those things are not as they were, so we had to seek God and try to find where He is working. During this fall semester, among the craziness of COVID-19 restrictions, elections, racial tensions, and a variety of other issues, God has continued to work in the hearts and lives of international students in Central Arkansas. Friendships with international students have led to sharing authentic food, hikes, spiritual questions and conversations and the celebration of new festivals.
Before last week I had never heard of Diwali. The “Christmas” of India, the “festival of lights” is celebrated in several countries but is predominately celebrated in India. First, it was my Indian friend who wished me a happy Diwali at our newly founded “Discover God” Bible study. I was then invited by three Indian friends to celebrate Diwali, an “auspicious occasion” as one friend put it. The celebration was not as traditional as I expected, but there were special Indian dishes (even some with no spice for me), everyone was dressed in beautiful traditional clothing, Indian music videos were played, and great conversations among all who attended. I have grown to love being the only American in a room. It reminds me that God can use me as His missionary, even in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. As the celebration continued, half of the party left for about an hour to participate in “Puja” (Hindu prayer/worship), and the half that stayed played Uno and ate chocolate chip cookies.
Diwali is a celebration of light overcoming darkness. The beautiful collaboration of culture in those few hours reminded me of what international student ministry is all about. From every occasion I have had the privilege to share with my international friends, I have learned just how God is using my life and the life of BCM students to drive out darkness and overcome it with the Light of Jesus. My hope and prayer is that my international friends would someday experience the light of Jesus that has changed and transformed my life and would themselves bring that light to their home country.”
*Some names are not shared for privacy purposes.