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Serving International Students in Columbia

Serving International Students in Columbia

Serving International Students in Columbia

Each year, the University of South Carolina welcomes approximately 1,700 international students and scholars from over 70 countries.

These students represent diverse cultures, languages, and religious beliefs. Recently, USC’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) organized a day trip to Charleston with 55 international students. This trip was done in collaboration with Riverland Hills Baptist Church, Columbia First Baptist Church, Shandon Baptist Church, North Trenholm Baptist Church, and the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

Students visited First Baptist Church of Charleston.

Exploring Charleston

Charleston, also known as the Holy City, boasts a rich religious history, including some of the oldest Southern Baptist churches in America. “This excursion provided a unique opportunity to explore the cultural and religious heritage of Charleston while facilitating the sharing of both culture and the Gospel,” Collegiate Minister Adam Venters said.

One highlight of the trip was the tour of the Historic First Baptist Church of Charleston, where Marshall Blalock shared the story of Jesus and the impact of the Gospel on the history of the church in anticipation of Easter services. 

Venters shared that there were many great conversations on the ride to and from Charleston. With extended time to talk and discuss, many Gospel conversations took place. “Something about sitting next to each other and exploring together provides an openness to talk more than just small talk,” Venters said.

Students visit popular Charleston landmarks.

Forging Connections

One of the results of the trip was the relationships and connections made that could be followed up with in the weeks to come. Some of the follow-ups included volunteers inviting students to have dinner at their homes and others visiting a local church with other volunteers for Easter Sunday. Events like the day trip to Charleston help to be a catalyst for building trust and relationships with international students that go far beyond one day. 

Carolina BCM also helps to meet the tangible needs of international students and scholars, including transportation. As the students arrive in America, most for the first time, many are greeted and picked up by SCBaptists. “We have an incredible opportunity to help with airport pick-ups for international students,” Venters said. “This is a great way for church staff and church members to serve internationals in our city.”

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