Puzzle Pieces Coming Together: Shelly’s Story

Ministry is often like looking at a puzzle – sometimes you only have half of the pieces. You don’t see the full picture of God’s work in someone’s life. Especially in international student ministry, when students are here for a little time and perhaps you only get to see how one or two pieces get added. ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.’ (1. Corinthians 3:6)

Shelly came to our city in the summer of 2020 to study a masters. The first time I heard about her was when our Reach Trainee here in Glasgow told me about a new friend she had made – a girl from China. 

She was not interested in the Bible, but thankful for opportunities to connect with local people at a time when everyone stayed home. She soon joined one of our international cafés, which is run by a local church supported by one of our staff workers and happened online at the time.

Quickly, she became a regular attendee, enjoying the community online, making friends with the local team and even contributing to the programme. Later she said that the reason why she started looking into the Christian faith was because of the café team members. She also became a close friend to my Reach Trainee – despite the few opportunities to share food and see each other in person. They had many good conversations online, and soon my Reach Trainee invited Shelly to come to church with her… and she did. Soon she also joined their weekly Bible studies.

“She couldn’t understand how the team was so joyful and friendly towards her. Something was different, and she became keen to find out about their faith.”

Another thing Shelly joined was our Buddy Scheme – designed to connect international students one-on-one with local Christians, so they can practise their English and get to know Glasgow and local people. Shelly was linked up with a lovely lady in her fifties. This lady was from one of the churches we are working with, but she had never been involved before and she saw the pandemic as a good opportunity to give international ministry a go. With all the screen exposure and Zoom fatigue at that time, they chose to speak on the phone each week and continued to do so for the next year, without having ever met in person!

All in all, Shelly was almost better connected than even us, the staff – being part of an international café at one church, having a buddy from a second local church and joining Bible studies at a third! But none of us could see the full picture!

In autumn 2021, we suddenly heard that Shelly was planning to be baptised! Her buddy’s husband had been baptised a few weeks before, and she had joined in for the celebration, even buying him a book about baptism as a present. Interestingly, she read it before giving it to him and realised that she was willing to make that step herself. 

It was a joyful celebration for all of us to see Shelly get baptised recently and to hear her full story as she shared how we all played a part in her journey. Hallelujah!

Rebecca Davies, Centre Team Leader in Glasgow

Images: George Pak on Pexels.

Share This Post

Latest news