What excites me most about Candlewood International Fellowship?
Well, thanks for asking.
I’ve been attending Candlewood Church for five years ever since I left family and friends in my hometown of Bangkok, Thailand to study at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. While it’s hard to move to a different state for college, it is a totally different experience to move to a different country.
I’ve been back to Thailand twice ever since starting this life of an international student. It’s a whole new level of homesickness and it’s expanded my definition of the word home. Dorms, apartments, random couches, library chairs, barns, and friends’ basements have all provided places to rest my head and have only ever fueled my restlessness to really find a place to belong.
It was in my homesickness that my need for Christ became very real in my life. It was then that I started asking some of life’s most important questions like, “What am I doing here and why am I even on this earth?” And, “Who is this Jesus who says he’ll never forsake me?”
But enough of me and back to your question. My answer is, the food! The food makes me most excited for Candlewood International Fellowship!
Now, obviously you’re wondering why I would talk about homesickness and then segway so awkwardly into food. Let me explain.
Yes, 6:30pm each Friday I do come to Candlewood International Fellowship, lovingly known as CIF, to fill my stomach. There is always plenty of food for the 30 plus people who show up, but more importantly the potluck dinners bring food from all kinds of different cultures there each week. These cuisines represent the Thais, Chinese, Malaysians, Colombians, Brazilians, Saudi Arabians, Japanese, and even Americans who meet at CIF. We all sit down together and enjoy the food, each other, and the Lord who created us. Sometimes the meals themselves are a mixture of cultures. In fact, this past week, Derrance (Malaysian), Sonic (Chinese), and Tercio (Brazilian) made us all sushi rolls. As Brittany, my Ohio-native wife, often puts it, “International students make better food than Americans!”
What it boils down to is this: To me, food at CIF is a taste of home.
I have since learned that home is not a place so much as is the people at that place. I hold on to the promise in John 14:2-3 that tells me Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for me. However, there is also nothing quite like a home cooked meal to momentarily satisfy homesickness. What I love most about CIF is that each week I get to help international students feel at home away from home. I get to sit down at a dinner table and try to answer some their pressing, real, and sincere questions. Who is this God who claims to love me? Why does he say he’s preparing a home for me? How can I know him more?
I’ve found my home in the promise of heaven with Jesus Christ, and at CIF I get the privilege of sharing that promise with the world over a simple home cooked dinner.
Candlewood Church aims to provide a family and a place to belong for those far away from their own home.
In Lincoln – Candlewood International Fellowship (CIF)
meets weekly on Fridays @ Candlewood Church (2640 St.) at 6:30pm
In Omaha – iFam
helps international students and residents adapt to life in America