River Bible Church in Mountain Home recently partnered with Hillcrest International Collective (the international plant of Hillcrest Community Church) to provide nearly 30 welcome baskets for incoming international students in Little Rock.
Hillcrest Community Church International and Engagement Pastor Pranay Borde said God is mobilizing them to actively live out the Gospel holistically among the international student body. Some ways they do that is through their partnership with IFO (International Friendship Outreach) and its conversation clubs, airport pickups, cultural events, and special Bible groups.
The welcome baskets are a new initiative the church took on in partnership with IFO. They are laundry baskets filled with practical items, such as towels, bed pillows, soap and eating utensils, that are given to incoming international students picked up at the airport to welcome them and help with their first few days in the states.
Borde called it a “a unique and easy way to show our love and support” for the internationals.
This was Hillcrest’s first year to be part of the welcome basket initiative. With it being their first year, Borde said they made an initial pledge of five welcome baskets. After connecting with River Bible Church, which had a great interest in partnering with local missions in Arkansas, Borde suggested the two churches work together on the welcome baskets. River Bible also began with a goal of five baskets.
“This church took it and ran with it and just did what God would do,” Borde said, noting River Bible Church produced 26 baskets. “I was blown away. This has just been an amazing testimony and testament of God.”
River Bible Church Family and Youth Pastor Matthew Bond said the church is expanding their view of missions in Arkansas and wanted to reach people in international missions. He said partnering with Hillcrest fit that bill.
“We’re just amazed at how God has given international ministry opportunities here in Arkansas. We’re excited about that,” Bond said. “We’re challenging our people to be on mission locally and statewide.”
Borde touted the impact these kinds of gifts and baskets make “that show Christ’s love in the most practical ways.”
“These baskets have opened the door for friendships, opened the doors for Gospel conversations and now we’re just expecting what more God can do through partnerships like this,” Borde said.