Alliance Church hooks up international students with furniture

Being available and willing to help led a Frenship church to find furniture for international students at Texas Tech.

Alliance Church pastor Jesse Rincones and some of the church members were asked to help move furniture that the Baptist Student Ministry had been collecting for students from other countries.

When he helped get the furniture out of storage for a giveaway event, Rincones said some of it was in rough shape. He wondered why anyone would want it.

But at the end of the giveaway event, he said only a few tables were left. He knew there were several students who did not get furniture. The most common wish, he said, was for a mattress.

The giveaway began at 9 a.m., Rincones said, but the first student in line had been there since 6 a.m. that morning.

“I was kind of overwhelmed by what they were willing to do to get some help,” he said.

Rincones said when helping to deliver furniture to the students, he and others noticed that many had no other furniture at all.

Cindy McBrayer, a cross-cultural specialist with TechBSM, said the organization also delivers a welcome laundry basket to each new international student with cleaning supplies, a bath towel and a place setting of dishes and silverware.

“We have caught kids sleeping on the floor with a sheet,” she said.

The foreign students arrived with their clothes, Rincones said, and many did not have transportation to go look for furniture or to move it if they found it. He said they also may not have had any idea where to look for affordable furniture, agreeing that while students from the U.S. might know about garage sales and Goodwill, foreign students do not know about those options.

McBrayer said about 200 students showed up to get furniture, but more than 100 had to be turned away during the BSM giveaway on Aug. 23. Both TechBSM and Alliance Church volunteers started making lists of students who still needed furniture that day, McBrayer said.

For Rincones, who started a list of students who still needed a mattress, it was a new mission for Alliance Church.

Brenda Rincones, Jesse’s wife, said the church started getting the word out among members of the need.

“Every couple of days, someone would say, ‘We’ll, I’ve got a mattress in my garage,’ ” Brenda Rincones said.

After the church members worked concessions at a Texas Tech game to raise money for missions, the members decided to use that money to purchase twin mattresses. Brenda Rincones said the church got a discount from Texas Discount Furniture.

McBrayer said the church has given away more than 20 mattresses so far.

“We continue to get names and numbers of people who have a mattress,” she said. “Everybody’s kind of come together to bless those students that have come from so far to study.”

Brenda Rincones said she doesn’t know if the students will remain in the U.S. or return home after studying here.

“But we know God brought them here to us, and we’ll take care of them,” she said.

Church members are also working on fixing up broken bicycles for the students to use for transportation around Lubbock. Brenda Rincones said a local store called and said it had several bikes that had been damaged and asked if the church could fix them up and find a use for them.

“That’s another thing that fell in our lap,” she said. “I just think so many times, God blesses us. We’re not to hold on to those things; we’re to deliver them.”

Brenda Rincones said church members have to be available and willing for these opportunities to present themselves.

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