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News from the Spurgeons

Bill & Kathryn in Colorado

Bill and I are celebrating 20 years helping international college students! Each and every semester since 2001 has brought new friends, precious souls to love and get to know.

We’ve tried food from a hundred countries, laughed at faux pas, and discussed Bible questions for hours. We’ve had tea parties, joined Halloween bashes, camped out, and gone on retreats. We’ve counseled through crisis. Visited students in their home country and appreciated the many thoughtful gifts. Many students have lived with us, come back to visit, or stayed for a night or two. Pictures can be found on the International Website –plus I have hundreds more, maybe thousands! And I can be followed on my site.

We’ve celebrated weddings, graduations, funerals, and baby births. Baptized new believers and won precious souls to the Lord. We have watched amazed as believers became stronger and at the bravery when students return to an oppressed country. God’s work is incredible. We are blessed because He has allowed us to do this ministry.

We are referred to now as Grandparents rather than U.S. Parents! I won’t say we’re getting old, but this last year with COVID has been tough. My mother has cancer and is weak. I’ve been spending a lot of time with her and hope she’ll come live with us. We’ve been blessed with six wonderful children and thirteen promising grandchildren. All precious.

So…we won’t be holding dinner and Bible studies in our home anymore—although we may throw a party or two. Students, you are always welcome to drop in. We’d really love to hear from you; how you’re doing, where you live, how God is working, etc. We pray for you, and if you have a need, please let us know. We love our students and will miss them greatly. This change makes me cry, but I know God’s work will continue. We wouldn’t have missed the last twenty years of ministry for anything and appreciate all the faithful people who helped us along the way.

Philippians 1:3-11 has been one of my favorite passages when a precious student must leave and it is my prayer now.  

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.  God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

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Ministry update

Students at the college house.

We love all the friends we’ve made through the years through the college ministry! Pray everyone is healthy and safe and seeking the Lord. We’d love to hear from any of you! During the COVID pandemic, Bill and I have stayed healthy, are vaccinated, and have met with a few students or stayed in contact through Zoom or by phone. Our grandchildren are growing up way too fast. Two graduated from college this year and one from high school. So proud of them.

Sadly, early in 2021, we lost one of our dear students (Candace) to a boating accident in her home country. We will always miss her. Later, some awesome students began their own Bible study at the college house and I helped supply the food. Of course, I love cooking for them and they love my banana cake!

It will be great to get back to a normal school year in the fall. I’m looking forward to it!

I hope to post pictures of the last few years soon. Miss you all!

Love, Bill and Kathryn Spurgeon

Great semester with International students!

We have had an awesome time with International college students this semester. Finals are this week, so it is almost over. I had help with the weekly meals which was wonderful. Thanks Syretha, Connie, Chris, and Jessica!  And Bill’s Bible studies were thought-provoking as always.

Here are some pictures of happenings through the semester. We had a cookout and hay ride. Most had never been on one.

Here are some more. Thanksgiving at The House. We served about 70 or so.

Here are some Christmas time pictures.

He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! Isaiah 5:26

This represents a bit of the time with a lot of people I’ve grown to love! Blessings to all of you!

My friend from Nepal suffers with her family #Nepal #Nepalearthquake

Several hundred students from Nepal attend the University of Central Oklahoma. Rosemary, one of Nepalese student, is majoring in nursing. She has come to our home Bible studies and attended our church, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, since she arrived last year. This sweet girl is very quiet and has become very dear to me.
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Rosemary’s father is the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. When the first earthquake hit Nepal, Rosemary couldn’t reach her parents. Very worried, she kept trying. Finally, hours later, her call got through. Her father was ministering at one of the four village churches where he also preaches. It took him two hours to walk back home through the debris.

Her parents and sister, who live at the church, are okay. With houses fallen down around them and fearful of aftershocks, they moved outdoors to the churchyard where they sleep and eat.

Church members began to show up at the churchyard, homeless, with their houses gone or uninhabitable. One church member, a young girl, died in the earthquake. Many church families came to the church for a place to get food, to sleep in the church yard, and for safety.
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Rosemary’s parents began to help the people living on the church grounds. Food prices have skyrocketed, and most jobs are gone. Rosemary and friends collected a little money to send for the emergency need, but it will take a long time for Nepal to recover.
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Through the aftershocks, the church was cracked more. Now it’s too damaged to repair. The church will have to be torn down and rebuilt. One of the four village churches where her father ministers was destroyed, the one in Tuper. 11210185_481950765300758_2024624179_n

Rosemary’s family still lives in the church yard because they cannot move back into the church. With no place to go, they need shelter soon because the rainy season will begin around the end of June.

My heart goes out to Nepal, to this church, and to Rosemary’s family. Does anyone know what we can do to help encourage and rebuild this fellow Nepalese community of believers?

Awesome addition to “The House”

The House” near the University of Central Oklahoma on Hurd Street  is open for college students to gather, eat and fellowship together. Some generous people from Henderson Hills Baptist Church donated the funds to expand  “The House.” 

In between the old building where girls live upstairs, and the garage apartments where guys live used to be an empty lot, where we had  parties, music fests, and outdoor movies! The old house now opens up into the new building, which expanded  the living area downstairs. Three new bedrooms and bath are upstairs. 

photo3 photo2 photoWhoever planned this, did a great job. God is good. The new area of The House has been full of students from the first day it opened! 

Minji: I had no family here

I grew up in Bundang, a suburb of Seoul, and studied at a South Korean college, Seoul Women’s University. I went to New Zealand to study language for half a year and then spent eight months in Australia.
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I found a job teaching English at a public university in a small Korean town, two or three hours from home. It was beautiful – surrounded by the Cheongju Mountains – but very different for me. Many students came from farms and villages. I had grown up safe and protected. I am the oldest of three children and we never knew about poverty. I never even had a part time job. My friends were really good and I never knew how other people live.

I was prejudice against Christians. My mother went to a Christian church because it was the thing to do. She grew up as a Buddhist but went on Sunday to meet people. My father encouraged me to go to a Christian church so I could meet a good man. Where I worked, many Christians were lazy and unproductive and I tried to be hard-working and diligent, to be successful. We Koreans usually love competition. However, the living situation was very difficult and I was homesick and bored. I did not know what to do about it. I was not happy enough. I was not good enough, and I was not satisfied.

One night, I was trying to decide what to do about my future and I woke up and started flipping through TV channels. I heard a preacher talking and quickly flipped past. Then I heard a university student and he was different than the preacher. It was interesting and I looked for the same channel the next night. A different night, I awoke up about 4:00 a.m. and could not sleep. I began to frantically fill out an application to go to the U.S. I was finished by 7:00 the next morning and was soon accepted!

My younger sister helped answer many questions about Christianity. She went to a Christian church and played the bass guitar for their music during worship time. She became a Christian and gave me a pamphlet to read. She invited me to her church two months before I came to the U.S. so I would know what a church is like. She said church was the best place to meet good people and get free food!

I came to UCO to work on a graduate degree in English. At Edmond, I met an autistic person and I had never met anyone like that before. But he was very easy to like. I realized that living in America meant more than earning a degree. It meant meeting many new people and having new experiences. I was spiritually open and began to pray. The Korean Bible is difficult so I started to read an English children’s version of the Bible which had pictures. If I had not met this Christian community, I would have a high level of anxiety, with no family here.

My mother is proud of me for being a teacher and studying in America. She thinks a better life means a better education, but I believe she is mistaken. I asked God for little things, and he gave me something big.

I became a Christian and was baptized at Life Church in November 2013. God is in heaven, and he is also in my heart. I wondered why God would die for me and I heard this story. It is about a man whose son was badly burned. The man loved the son so much, he would willingly take his place if he could. That is like God. He is willing to take my place because he loves me so much.

Vivi: A Father’s Love

College took Vivi over six thousand miles away from her Buddhist family in Indonesia. Her prayer as a new Christian was that God would teach her more about Him because she didn’t know Him well. For several years, Vivi and her fiancé, David Thong from Malaysia, worked as volunteers in the church with the children ministry.

When Vivi washed children’s faces covered with sticky candy or milk, the young ones did not always cooperate. They were happy with dirty smiles and tried to run away from her. When a diaper needed to be changed, they didn’t like it. When she tried to get a small child to sit still so she could teach a lesson, they did not always listen.
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Vivi explained what she learned through caring for children. “God wants to clean me up but I resist. He wants to take away the stinky part of life but I fight against it. He wants to teach me but I am too busy. The truth is that God is not punishing me like I thought. He wants the best for me. When God disciplines, it is with love.”

Vivi’s view of the Father was one of a harsh God who punishes mistakes. She wondered why there were hardships in life. As she got to know more about God, her view changed to the true picture of Him as a loving and compassionate Father. Her practical experience working with children helped her own struggle with how the Heavenly Father relates to people. She learned a lot as she related to the children. When she encouraged toddlers to take their first steps or cheered when a child read out loud in class, she became a stronger child of God, knowing He cheers her on. She grew as a Christian.

Far away from her Indonesian home, living in Edmond, Oklahoma, Vivi, as a minister for children in church, learned about the wonderful character of her Father in Heaven. Lessons she needed when she married David Thong from Malaysia and had two sweet daughters of her own!

But You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalms 86:15 (NIV)
“Father, thank You for Your loving discipline and the encouragement You give when I fall. Help me to see You more clearly. Amen.”

This story was published in 2004, Hearts Growing in Grace, by Henderson Hills Baptist Church.

Yeongeun: Prayer in Different Languages

Hello. This is Yeongeun from South Korea. I lived in the HHBC international college house as the only Korean student for about one and a half year.

It was a casual Sunday evening in spring when I visited the special white house with my Korean friends. On that day, I was one of six different nationalities enjoying the dinner and making connection. Christians, Buddhist, Islamist, atheists, and so on. I felt the house has much capacity containing the various people. I would say the party was very interesting as the sincere church flocks served literally everyone. Although I grew up with my Christian family and I am a Christian, I barely talked or made a friendship out of church. However in the house, they were creating a new type of friendship out of church including the lovely bible study leaders.

2011 04 Yeong EunFor about three months, I hung out at the house and became a close friend of the house members. Especially Jessica and her family gave such love, support, dinner and lunch (oh breakfast), and pray through the period. It was not easy to communicate in the second language, but I felt the house members understood my belief, life, problems, and most of all we could laugh together. Finally I decided to move into the house, and be a member. 🙂

Spring camp, hang out, zoo visits, Pops, ice snacks (oh, I forgot the delicious name), skating, birthday parties. Maybe I can arrange a thousand and thousand funny things what I shared with the house members there.

But one reason why the house is distinguished from intentional students’ hang out clubs: praying for others every meeting where all house members gathered with the pastor, Jimmy. Hello Jimmy! Sometimes I had to end the praying group with my Korean prayer. Oh, language barrier. 😉 Still the praying worked as God knows who we wanted to bring to him. Can you imagine a praying group speaking in Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish, and so on? Someone healed, another recovered from their broken relationship, got a job, accepted to graduate school… We prayed almost every case of 20’s and 30’s problems during the pray hours and He listened to us. I believe he still does!

Now I am in Korea and working for Regional Tourism Organization. Working here is not an easy one, maybe you know how much I miss the graduate school… I learned how to become a friend with foreigners at the house. In Korea I have been getting opportunities to mingle with foreign customers, friends and just visitors at work. I still have the Christ’s heart for them and keep praying. I do not want to say it is easy working as a Christian keeping the heart every day, however the house living experience was such valuable practice.

I am dreaming someday I could visit the house members again at the house. Love them all!

Wenxian: God opened the eyes of my heart

My name is Wenxian and I am from the People’s Republic of China. In China we were always taught that there is no God, and that religious beliefs could never be true. However, I kept wondering about where all the beautiful things in nature came from. Who made all of these stunning, gorgeous landscapes, these awesome places all over the world? Who plans everything for me, and who wakes me up every morning? I have always believed that everything has a reason; that nothing happens by accident.

Not long after I arrived in the United States, my friends took me to a Christian church. It was called Life Church. That was where I experienced many “firsts” in my life. It was the first time that I actually heard and learned about God’s words. It was the first time I met people who walked with Jesus Christ. And it was the first time that I thought, “God may actually be real! These words may be true!”

I met a lot of awesome Christian friends in Oklahoma. They kept praying for me to know God better and deeper. And God gave me so many blessings! As a student in a foreign country, I had so many awesome friends, I did very well in school, and God always provided for every one of my needs. As time went on I came to know and believe that God is real, that God is here with me!

I am a really logical person. I usually can’t believe anything that I can’t see with my own eyes. At first, I asked many questions of my Christian friends. “How can you prove the words in the Bible are true?” “If God really loves us, why are natural disasters happening every day all over the world?” But somehow I came to know and understand that faith is when you believe in something that cannot be proven. I started to feel God with my soul instead of my brain. Maybe that was the Holy Spirit working in me. I knew that the Lord had opened the eyes of my heart!

After that, I accepted Jesus as my savior and decided to follow Him! I signed up to be baptized at Life Church. My friends, the Green family, took me to church every Sunday. Mr. Green went with me for the baptism. He helped me with the details and kept me from being too nervous. A large group was being baptized that day. Before we were baptized we all had to give our testimony.  Many of the others had powerful stories of miraculous healing, being saved from addictions, etc.  I thought, “My story is so plain and simple.” But after I was baptized and I came up out of the water, I was so excited!

This is my story. I don’t have the exciting, amazing testimony that some people have. My story seems ordinary to me, but maybe it will be helpful to others. God didn’t work any big miracles in my life to prove to me that He was there. But He did melt my sealed heart with His love, which is a kind of miracle!

 God is good, all the time!

Anonymous: Hindu finds peace

I grew up in Nepal and my family is Hindu. Religion was something I grew up with but I never really understood it. I attended a private school beginning in the second grade and every morning in assembly line we said a prayer asking for the heavenly Father to bless us. I never understood what it meant but it was my first encounter with the real God.

I remember when I was in the eighth grade I was not a good student, so my mother told me to take a pot of water to this god, an elephant god. She said it would make things better. So I did. I asked for help to pass the class and I passed. We went to a lot of Hindi festivals too. The first Bible story I heard was in eleventh grade English class. We read the story about David and his betrayal. Again I did not understand.

I left home at 19 and landed in the U.S. on August 20, 2005. I had no place to stay so some Nepali guys took me in and showed me around. Many college students get into a lot of trouble, drop out of school, or party and drink. I didn’t want to do that. I think God watched over me and protected me. He made a road for me to walk.

I started to work at Steak and Shake, working fifty to sixty hours a week to pay bills. I made enough money but I had no peace inside. God taught me to be patient while working there. I learned from my mistakes. Finally, I got a bachelor’s degree from UCO in Human Resources.

A friend, Elizabeth, invited me to HHBC and I filled out a guest card. Mike Wall emailed me and left a phone number. I called him and he invited me to Sunday night international meals. At the House I met some people like Paul and Josh, and Bill invited me to Bible study. When I went on the field trip, I made a lot of friends. Jessica helped a lot by reviewing my English papers. I don’t think I could have graduated without her help. The students and their families accepted me, and invited me over for dinner and holidays.

I remember praying a few times and God answered. Once I needed help moving and everyone bailed out on me. I counted on faith and some guy across the street came and helped me.

I got my Master’s degree in Gerontology at UCO May 2013 and a job just fell into place. I work at Good Shepherd Hospice now, and the Head Chaplin was talking to me. She said when she takes care of a sick person, she remembers that even if that person doesn’t know God, God has a plan for them. I knew then that it was time for me to decide. I needed faith in something I could count on. The calling was there the whole time, I just ignored it. Eight years ago when I came to the U.S., I never planned on becoming a Christian. I never thought about it. But God did. Some days I read the Bible and still don’t understand but a study Bible is helping.

I can’t cut out my Hindi background. The Hindi culture will always be a part of me and I still plan to go to the festivals, like the national holiday Festival of Colors called Holi where we celebrate good over evil. I haven’t told my parents yet that I have decided to become a Christian and they may disown me. They live in the U.S. now with green cards. I don’t have one and may have to go back to Nepal. It’s okay if I do, I know God will be with me.

Here is my advice about Christianity. Don’t jump on it. It took me years to understand. Work through the process. Read and study. You have to feel it in your heart.

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