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July 6, 2023 / by Jan Lyden

One of my favorite subjects in elementary school and high school was Geography. I was fascinated by how others lived in faraway lands, the different foods they ate, climates, languages, and everything else included in cultures unlike my own.

This sparked my interest as an adult. When Charlie and I began attending East White Oak, we became acquainted with different missionaries and hosted them for meals in our home. We enjoyed learning about their work, the people they were ministering to and how God was using them as missionaries in His work.

In recent years we have had the privilege of hosting international ISU students for meals and also some for overnight lodging. I have learned so much about cultures from, literally, all over the world. I’ve had opportunities to share my testimony and the Gospel with many students. At first, I reasoned that my home was small, not fancy, not equipped to host a group of students. God had the perfect group of students for us the first year. They were Japanese students who live in very small spaces, high rise apartments, and live by simple means. They thought our home was a mansion! We had so much fun celebrating birthdays, grocery shopping, sharing holidays, spending time learning about them, and serving them. I learned that if I was willing to use my gift of hospitality for Him, He would provide the people, the means, and would take care of the rest. And that He did!

He took this simple Midwestern girl who dreamed of far-off lands and is using me to serve and use my gifts for His glory to students from all over the world.

I’m humbled and amazed at how God gifts and then equips His people for His purposes. I’m thankful he planted the seeds in my life early on and then when He knew I was ready, He gave me a ministry beyond my wildest dreams.

I’m not sure what the future holds for international student ministry, but I am trusting that if I am willing, no matter what He asks, He will equip me. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight”.

Jan is married to Charlie and they have 2 married daughters, Sarah and Emily. They have been attending East White Oak for 45 years. They have 8 grandchildren and another one expected in November. Jan enjoys baking, hospitality, flower gardening, and spending time with family and friends. In years past, she has been an AWANA leader, junior high youth leader, and helper at the after- school program at the HUB. She continues to work with and host international students.