By Alyssa Cranston
Hi friends! My name is Alyssa Cranston. I am a junior studying Elementary Education. My plan is to one day use this major to teach overseas, but that hasn’t always been the plan. The Lord really started to burden my heart for sharing the Gospel overseas when I was 16. This was right after my dad forced me to go on a mission trip with my family to Nicaragua (not my proudest moment). Before going to Nicaragua, I was really callous to the need for the Gospel in any country -- even my own.
After that trip, the Lord softened my heart and opened my eyes to physical and spiritual needs all over the world. I did not want to leave Nicaragua. There was so much left to do: so many people who hadn’t yet heard the Good News, so many needs that had yet to be met. Even so, I had to go back to the States. In the time between going to Nicaragua and coming to college, I longed to be back overseas serving in some capacity. I studied the Bible, specifically the Great Commission, quite a bit. I was very convicted by the verses I read in Matthew 28:19-20.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The part of this passage that stuck out to me the most was this excerpt: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” As a 16 year old in a small town, I had no idea how to do that. How do you share the Gospel with the nations when everyone around you seems the same? I really wrestled with this until coming to college.
When I came to the University of Arkansas, I immediately got plugged in with the BCM and a local church. For the first time in my life, I was surrounded by people who were challenging me to dive deeper in my faith. I saw many of my friends who were upperclassmen reaching out to international students, so I did the same. My involvement started with a university-hosted event called Hot Pot Night, which is a cultural welcome dinner for international students. Much to my dismay, only university faculty ended up sitting at my table. While I was disappointed to not get to make new friends, the Lord was still at work! I got to know the faculty at my table and started asking questions on how to get involved with programs for international students on campus. The first suggestion they made to me was becoming a Conversation Club Leader, so I took that idea and ran with it.
Being a Conversation Club Leader is one of the most simple, yet most rewarding things I have done in my time at the university. Basically, you get assigned to a group of international students and help them with their conversational English for one hour a week. More than that, it’s about being a friend to those who are in a foreign land. Since starting Conversation Club, I have made countless friendships with people from all over the world and have had a handful of opportunities to talk about the sacrifice of Jesus. It’s mind-boggling to me that the nations literally come to us. We have the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission right where we are, all we have to do is get involved! There will never be another time like this in our lives, so we must make the most of it. Ultimately, why I do Conversation Club is as simple as this: I serve a God who will be served by every tribe, tongue, and nation. I want to play a small part in making that come to fruition, because He is worthy.