Gateway Café is the name of the international students café based on the De Montfort University campus that is being launched this month with support from a number of Martyrs church members.
The café will offer free hospitality, English conversation and themed evenings enabling newcomers to understand and enjoy something of our local culture and seasonal traditions; they will also be able to share with one another something of their own international culture.
When I was an international student in Germany (35 years ago!), I remember it was a Navigator Christian group that not only helped me to feel welcome at an uncertain time but also helped signpost me to a local church.
Similarly, we’re hoping that the Gateway Café will live up to its name and be a ‘gateway’ or signpost for young adults, many of whom will know very little about Jesus, to explore the Christian faith through being part of a local Christian community or student group.
The ministry of welcome and outreach to students can be costly, nvolving lots of time, support and encouragement for young adults most of whom will only be in Leicester for two or three years; indeed, some of the international students who will be coming to the café may only be in the UK for one year, so for those with whom we make strong relationships it can be painful to see them leave so soon.
This has also been our experience with some of those refugees from Iran who have been such a blessing to us over the past year. They are now, many of them, becoming a blessing to other Christian fellowships in different parts of the UK; we should be thankful that God has gifted us the privilege of being part of their Christian growth, even if for a short time.
This is also the attitude we should have as we launch our new Sunday evening worship initiative later this month and as we pray for UK and international students as well as others in the 18-30s age bracket to join us at the Martyrs. Some may not be with us for long; but their time with us may be real turning points in their discovery of God’s love revealed in Jesus which will in the future be a blessing to other fellowships in the UK and beyond. It is a privilege for the Martyrs Mission Community to be a receiving and sending church in this way, so please do support this new worshipping initiative if you can when the details of it are announced.
Having chosen the name ‘Gateway Café’ for he new international student café (which will be meeting on Gateway Street at St. Andrew’s church hall), I’ve been reminded of Jesus’ encouragement to his disciples in John chapter 10: ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved’. Please join with me in praying that this autumn we will see new disciples discovering Jesus as the Gateway to the Father.