The International Student Relief Campaign: A Bright, God-Moment in a Dark World

May 14, 2020

On May 7, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an order essentially extending the state-wide restrictions through the end of May.

This not-unexpected move means that as a society we are not yet out of the woods or, more exactly, not yet out of the house. Still, there have been a few brighter moments where  the Lord’s hand at work in people's lives has been clearly seen. One such “brighter moment” in Trinity’s community experience is the International Student Relief Campaign. Realizing that so many of the economic stressors hitting the domestic Trinity students were greatly magnified in the lives of our international student population (with many of our 170 international students losing on-campus jobs, not to mention funding from their families, churches, and sponsoring organizations), we appealed to the broader church community in the hopes of raising $35,000. As it turns out, our faith was too small: once again, God has done immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine. To date, we have received $54,035 from 12 churches and more than 50 individuals. Many individuals and churches brought supplies and groceries as well. Thanks to a task force of hardworking student care personnel, Trinity was able to develop a process for determining student cash needs, while considering such factors as sources of income, job position, and family size. Through this process $26,900 was disbursed to 58 students, each receiving amounts between $100 and $1500, each disbursement issued according to need. One church has committed to giving an additional $5,000 or more directly to 10 students. But that’s not all. As a result of the pandemic and campus closure, 15 students lost their on-campus employment. Due to the generosity of donors, however, we were able to establish new (previously unbudgeted) positions that not only served Trinity well but also allowed Trinity students to draw a steady income. In fact, Trinity was even able to create additional jobs for internationals students who previously did not have work on campus. But wait, there’s more. Before the launch of the relief fund, Trinity's weekly, on-campus food drop regularly served 30–35 students and their families. Following the relief campaign, by contrast, we were able to serve 62–68 students and their families, meeting the needs of up to 195 people, including family members. Needless to say, these food drop Mondays have been busy. This overwhelming financial, material, and volunteer support from the body of Christ has allowed our international students (the most vulnerable in our community) to continue to focus on their studies and care for their families. Whatever material needs have been met, perhaps the most important gift that these churches and individuals have given our students is a much-needed sense of belonging, dignity and peace of mind. Of course the generosity of these churches and donors (many of them first-time Trinity donors) is not just a gift to Trinity's international students, but to its mission. All of this was made possible due to the leadership of Trinity's newly appointed Associate Vice President of Advancement Garrett Luck and the Vice President of Student Care Amanda Onapito. And of course there were many others who picked up the many delegated tasks needed in order to make this happen "Though a darkness has recently come upon the entire world, God so loved the world and has been recently spotted doing so through his people," said Trinity President Nicholas Perrin. "I suspect that our internationals will be remembering this bright, God-moment the rest of their lives. I hope this bright moment encourages you too."