Making a Difference in Ireland
Every year, over 40,000 international students come to study in universities across Ireland and tens of thousands more at language schools.
Many of these students have never heard of Jesus and come from countries where Christian witness is restricted. The reality is that countries, traditionally closed to Christian ministry are sending some of their best students to study in the UK and Ireland. That means that we have the opportunity to connect with some of the world’s hardest to reach people groups right here on our doorstep and thereby see God transform the nations one international student at a time.
The ISM Ireland Project
On the island of Ireland, Friends International works in a formal partnership with Christian Unions Ireland (CUI) called the ISM Ireland Project.
This is a joint initiative that brings together CUI’s campus ministry experience and strong local team support alongside Friends International’s international student expertise, resources and global returnee networks.
The shared purpose of ISM Ireland Project is to see churches and Christian Unions partnering to develop sustainable, complementary and effective ministries so that international students on campuses throughout Ireland will be welcomed and befriended, discipled and equipped to serve Christ wherever they go next.
Read more about what the ISM Ireland Project is
An Update from Hollie Tagle
International Student Ministry (ISM) has looked and felt very different over the past year. As an ISM community (like many others) we have had to learn how to use online platforms such as Zoom, strive to foster fellowship online and seek to connect with international students that we’ve possibly never met with in person. The challenges have been countless, however the opportunities have been undeniable.
We’ve been particularly encouraged by increasing connections with more CUs and churches in the Republic of Ireland. We pray that God would continue to open doors to grow these relationships and support the wider ISM community both in the North and South, in churches and Christian Unions.
Online meetings and activities have proven relatively popular, however at the end of a long day taking classes online, it can be a big ask for international students to spend their evenings on screen as well. When possible, socially distanced activities (in person) such as walks, scavenger hunts and meal collections have been really effective ways of engaging with students.
We have been excited by the re-starting of a number of international cafés in both Dublin and Cork, and inspired by the work of many CU groups across Ireland and their commitment to ISM. Though it has been difficult to connect with new international students this year, it has been exciting to reconnect with returnee students who are back in their home countries.
Another (arguably) unlikely area of growth has been in recruitment, both within CUI and Friends International. From an ISM perspective we are deeply grateful for the appointment of Heledd Job as our new ISM Staff Worker in Dublin. Please pray that her appointment will be the first of many more across the island.
We have also begun the process of establishing a Dublin Development Group to support and work alongside Heledd within the city. Small beginnings perhaps, however incredibly significant.
We’re delighted that after a review, CUI and FI have reaffirmed their commitment to the ISM Ireland Project. Looking ahead to the incoming year, our priority continues to see international students’ lives transformed by the gospel – serving them in word and deed.
We’ll also carry on with recruitment as we strive to grow our ISM team, not only in terms of staff but also, Reach Trainees, CU and Church connections and supporters.
– Hollie Tagle, ISM Ireland Project Team Leader