Richard and Lynne June 2015

Richard and Lynne Smith

RUF-International (RUF-I) will launch a new ministry this fall at Penn State University. Richard Smith will be the campus minister, and he begins this new ministry after spending 15 years as pastor of Northgate Presbyterian Church in Albany, Georgia.

Smith’s journey to RUF-I started when he realized his church had the opportunity to serve the international students staying in Albany to attend Darton State College. He began by inviting international students to his home for Thanksgiving, and just one student came. Over the years church members hosted social events and led Bible studies for the international students, welcoming them into the life of the church.

Over an eight-year period Smith sensed a call to minister full time to international students. Eventually Smith and his wife Lynne attended RUF-I assessment, but despite being approved for ministry, RUF-I did not have any immediate openings.

As the Smiths waited and continued to pray, an opportunity emerged for a brand-new ministry at Penn State. Penn State hosts the 13th-largest international student population of any university in the United States, with more than 8,400 international students attending the school. RUF-I coordinator Al LaCour spent eight years praying for an opportunity to serve these students, the same amount of time as Smith had sensed a call to international student ministry.

As he prepares to launch this new ministry, Smith knows this will be a daunting task. The large campus and huge international student population make the job feel overwhelming.

Despite these challenges, Smith said he looks forward to investing all his pastoral energy in ministering to international students, to welcoming students and volunteers into his home, and watching the Gospel connect with people from different cultures.

Susquehanna Valley Presbytery is sponsoring the ministry with funds donated by churches in Lancaster and State College, Pennsylvania. Smith will be based at Oakwood Presbyterian Church in State College.

5 Responses to RUF-I Launches New Ministry at Penn State

  1. Paul Baldwin says:

    Great ministry opportunity. I have seen this work before. There was a similar ministry at RPI (Troy, NY) and several churches hosted a September picnic for international students. Two busloads arrived and we each adopted a student and invited them to our homes over the next year for cultural outings and to church.
    We were blessed, as were the students.
    We will pray for this new ministry that God will bring in a rich harvest

  2. Reagan Marsh says:

    So happy to see you finally getting boots on the ground there, Richard! You’re in our prayers!

  3. Deborah Ferguson says:

    Great opportunity, Richard. Praying for you.

  4. Henry Koh says:

    It sounds RUF-I is a separate organization to International students only. Shouldn’t RUF ministry naturally include International students so that each members student of RUF may approach and bring International students to RUF Bible study and other meetings like Inter-Varsity are doing?

  5. Cub Culbertson says:

    Y’all are very patient !
    We are VERY, VERY happy for you. Also, glad you are again on RH BOARD !!!