Our History 

In the 1960’s, a Baptist minister named Fred Wolfe, retired from pastoral ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, PA. In retirement, he began to see the need to reach out to international students in Pittsburgh. He began regular ministry trips to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. where students would be hosted by Christian families in churches. Students were also offered opportunities to study the Bible. In 1980, Rev. Wolfe retired a second time and the work was continued by Dr. Carl Templin, who had just returned from ten years on the mission field in Ethiopia. Dr. Templin would lead the ministry for the next 22 years, continuing active outreach through trips, church partnerships and Bible studies. Our ministry was incorporated in 1983 as a Christian non-profit organization. During the leadership of Dr. Templin the support base grew to include many local, evangelical churches in the Pittsburgh region. 

Our ministry also began to add additional staff members. In 1985, Ruth Latimer Woods joined the staff of our ministry to teach English and to minister to international women. In 1988, China Outreach Ministries (COM) made Rev. Ken Wagoner available to our ministry as a full-time specialist to serve the rapidly growing population of Chinese scholars who were coming to Pittsburgh; Ken continues to minister to international students and scholars to this day. In 1989 Ruth moved away from Pittsburgh and was replaced by Jeanne Griffith whom she had trained and discipled. Jeanne retired just a few years ago, and after almost 30 years. In 1997, Becky Downs was added to the staff in a part time role. Becky had a particular focus on Muslim women and helped to lead an international women’s Bible study. Dr. Templin retired in 2002 and was replaced by Rev. Scott Boyd, who returned from nine years on the mission field in the Republic of Slovenia.  He remains the current director of our ministry. In 2003, Adrian Ciganic was added to the staff as a specialist in the area of leading international Bible studies and outreach activities, and has since moved on to work at International Students, Inc. (ISI). As the work has grown several interns have been added to the staff. The heart of the ministry, however, lies with the many volunteers from local churches that help meet the needs of international students.  

 

The programs of our ministry are multi-faceted, in response to the diversity of needs and interests of international students and scholars.  Programs of our ministry enable students to meet American host families who befriend them and assist them in adjusting to life in the U.S. These friendships also provide the context for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Hosting trips to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C. are still popular programs. Our ministry also offers a weekly event called PRISM Connect. At PRISM Connect, members of local churches come to meet students, provide snacks and engage in meaningful discussions and fun activities. Our ministry offers English conversational instruction, and a free Garage Giveaway where furniture and household items donated by local church members are given to students. Additionally, our ministry offers Christian education opportunities in the form of Bible studies, conferences and various programs offered by local churches.

 

Our ministry's office is located in Bellefield Presbyterian Church in the heart of Oakland, where the vast majority of Pittsburgh international students, who come from more than half of the nations of the world, reside.