They serve you hamburgers, bus your table, clean your hotel rooms and rent you bikes on the boardwalk each summer. Who are they? They are international students from all over the world who come here on a work/study program (J1 Visa). They are more than 1700 strong and to most Americans they’re invisible, but not to us and certainly not to God.
Grace Bible Church and other local churches partner with Virginia Beach Community Chapel (VBCC) in an international student outreach known as J1 Café. The ministry revolves around a weekly dinner party meeting on Tuesday evenings running from mid June to mid September.
What began in a private home with a handful of international students has become a dinner party attended by 400-500 people in the VBCC gym. At the dinner, students receive a free meal, play games, meet Americans and practice English. Students may also take advantage of the bike loan program, organized trips to DC and Kings Dominion, weekly Bible discussion groups and Sand Soccer.
The hope is that American volunteers meet students at J1 Café and develop friendships outside the Café. This is a relational ministry; as students get to know volunteers, they learn more about why we do what we do and who Jesus is in our lives.
Volunteers do not have to be able to be at every J1 Café, but we do ask that they register and if they plan on volunteering this summer, that they attend the cross- cultural ministry training. We are also looking for volunteers who can help with the following:
- Set up/take down
- Meal Prep
- Serve food
- Bike repair
- Sports Team
- Bible discussion
- English Corner
- Go on an organized trip
We are also looking for help with the following transportation programs:
J1 SHOPS: will consist of adults who are willing to drive students with shopping needs. They will meet on Tuesdays between 1 and 4 pm at the cul de sac just south of the 711 at 24th street and Pacific Avenue...right in front of the Cove Apartments. (A common J1 meeting place). We form a circle, sometimes double parked, in the circular formation of the dead end area. The students need to go to Walmart, TJ Max, the Lynnhaven Mall, Thrift Stores, and early in the season, Social Security (which closes at 4 pm). The goal is to group them by destination and divide the cars up accordingly, so each driver has only one destination. If you have room to put a cooler in your trunk and/or to carry water and a snack, this is always greatly appreciated. With the former, they can buy ice cream!
J1 HELPS: will consist of adults who can offer to drive students on the days of the week when they need a ride to a specific place. We are trying to set up a network of adults who can be contacted to divide up the driving. Once a student request is received, we will call a volunteer who has agreed to be on the list of drivers for that day. This provides volunteers with personal, custom made opportunities to meet students on a one to one basis...a great way to make a special friend.
Here is this year's J1 Cafe Schedule:
- J1 Cafes are scheduled on consecutive Tuesdays, 7p.m., starting in June and ending in August
- We will be taking sightseeing trips with students. Volunteers are welcome to join students on trips to:
- Busch Gardens
- Kings Dominion
- Washington, DC
More information will be available in Spring 2019 as we near the next J1 Cafe season.
If you're interested in learning more about the upcoming 2019 Cafe's or to volunteer, please email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with us on Facebook at: J1 Cafe on Facebook and check out Virginia Beach International Student Outreach Program