by Abigail Armstrong, Coordinator, The Salt Company – Iowa City
Bethany is a sophomore at the University of Iowa and a Salt Company student leader. Just last year Jesus radically changed her life. “I had believed Jesus my whole life, but didn’t give up my choices to Him. I was praying, ‘Show me Your love’ when I came to college, realizing I was so broken. Jesus radically transformed me. He transformed the way I received love, my speech, my friends, what I did with my body… my ENTIRE lifestyle. My friends from home are shocked, they cannot believe the life I am living.” In January this year Bethany’s eyes and heart were opened to the nations. Desiring to jump boldly into what God is doing globally she went on several missions trips in the Spring and the Summer, but after feeling restless was counseled to not forget about the place God has her currently planted. She then got involved with IFC, International Friendship Connection, The Salt Company’s international ministry and has been completely blown away by God’s love for His people and His faithfulness in bringing them to a place where they can know Him.
Within the last 5 months, Bethany has met 3 women from the Middle East. The country they are from is a place where it is dangerous and illegal to believe and talk about Jesus. The first woman she met introduced her to two more friends along the way. They are all here with their husbands to study English and get graduate degrees at the University of Iowa. They have felt so alone and their only real friends are their husbands in Iowa City. They were so hungry for community and a deeper truth and peace that they had not found in their lives, so they flocked to Bethany seeing there was something different about her. By God’s power they are deeply seeking Jesus. One pulled Bethany aside after dinner and asked her to tell her about Jesus. One of the friends had even read the Gospels on an illegal website before she came to America and went to a Family Group not even knowing what it was about. Family Groups are a place where international students get together with American students to talk about the Bible and share what God is doing and who Jesus is. When she was leaving she told Bethany, “This is what I was looking for!” She has asked Bethany to start reading the Bible with her! One of the women even found her way to church in her full cultural dress, thirsty for truth.
“ It is humbling to see Jesus loves people even more than I do. Even though I am swamped with all of my activities and schoolwork, I am willing, so God can use me in the midst of the crazy,” said Bethany. He has brought these women to a place where they can talk about their doubts about their family’s religion and hear about Jesus. They are tired of living by constricting rules and no hope for something greater. The verse that is on Bethany’s heart is Acts 17:26-28
“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way towards Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.’”
*Names and origins have been concealed to protect the identity of the women in the story.