Friendship Center Training
So, back to Cynthia. In many ways, it is her effort and passion to “fine tune” the IFC concept that has opened up this international world for so many LCMS volunteers. It is Cynthia’s training which makes this wonderful opportunity to know and stand with people from many countries possible.
Cynthia’s training, arranged in levels, exposes would-be volunteers to what an IFC is, how it’s run, and the what role each person can play. Workshops are normally done on a Saturday, lasting about 5 hours. he first workshop covers cross cultural ministry generally and the IFC model. The second training gets into specifics of how to set up and run a local IFC. Cynthia explains what her
training workshops offer: “The practical training I bring exposes people to the opportunities they can have to love and serve immigrants in their area. Anyone is welcome to come and learn. Naturally, many people are hesitant, but ours is a no-obligations training—just come and learn about cross cultural ministry. After that, those who are interested can come for the subsequent and specific training of what they can at a Friendship Center. In almost every case, people tell me that their initial fears were unwarranted, that serving at an IFC is both easier and more wonderful than they Normally, volunteers come together from several area congregations in order to start an IFC hosted by one particular church. This helps to insure that there will be enough volunteers. In every sense, the volunteers run the IFC; it becomes their ministry.
Cynthia talks about how the personal growth of volunteers.
“Once the volunteers actually start teaching or helping, it is kind of a revelation. One is that they really get what is often said: ‘You don’t have to go overseas any more to do missions--because the mission is in our own front yard’ Another is the fear factor they express--fear of taking the first step. But after they get started and have built bridges of friendship, in a very short time, they love it, even to the point of visiting their students’ homes. For so many volunteers, serving at an IFC becomes a very moving experience. “
POBLO is signing partnerships with congregations around the country who want to start an IFC. We train the church and the volunteers. We help them launch the IFC. Later, we help them tweak their IFC, and problem solve as the ministry develops.
If you would like to do consider an International Friendship Center at your church, please call POBLO International to speak with Cynthia Khan or Dr. Gary Rohwer. It’s worth investigating the IFC as an outreach model designed to help you with God’s mission in your own frontyard.