Spreading the Gospel at Resonate Church in Washington
In cold and snowy Ellensburg, Wash., Pierce and Yae Hite are part of a gospel movement on the campus of Central Washington University (CWU). They share a heart of love for the lost international students on campus, some of whom have never heard the gospel before.
Love works with others
Pierce and Yae have partnered with church planters Jacob and Jessica Dahl, who God used to plant Resonate Church on CWU’s campus. Pierce and Yae had been praying for a church to connect with in Ellensburg, and that’s when Yae met Jessica. “I felt strongly that my meeting Jess was not a coincidence,” Yae says. When Pierce met the Dahls, he was immediately drawn by their desire to work alongside others to fulfill the Great Commission.
Love reaches out to others
After meeting the Dahls, the Pierce and Yae’s heart for reaching Japanese transfer students only grew. CWU welcomes over 100 Japanese students each year. The window to reach them is short but wide open, since transfer students are typically more open to experiencing and learning new ideas. Pierce and Yae didn’t see much outreach happening with international students at CWU, so they decided to start it themselves, in partnership with Resonate Church.
They began an international small group called the “International Village”—which primarily connected students from Japan, Nepal. Saudi Arabia, and China. With others from Resonate Church, Pierce and Yae planned BBQs and hosted game nights for international students, then invited them to small group along with American students who could build relationships with them. They wanted to create a safe and welcoming place, even for students who decided they didn’t believe in the gospel.
At International Village, after an hour of eating dinner together and hanging out, Pierce and Yae walked students through spiritual and gospel-centered discussions. For Japanese students who didn’t fully understand English, Yae clarified questions for them in Japanese. They tried to keep discussions open so students can share what they really think.
Yae says Japanese people tend to give only positive responses based on their cultural value of harmony. “That’s why it’s important to build relationships with them, so they are honest with us when talking about Jesus, even when what they think about Jesus is negative or have questions and doubts,” she says.
Love conquers all obstacles
The group did not come without its challenges. Pierce and Yae had to fight the notion Christianity is a “western religion” and Japanese students will be “less Japanese” if they decide to follow Jesus. The language barrier was also an obstacle, but Pierce says he’s learned the truth of the gospel can be explained in simple language. “When you can do that, you force yourself to really understand it,” he says. “It’s a beautiful and powerful thing.”
Both Pierce and Yae have had to trust the Holy Spirit’s faithfulness as they sow the seed, even when they don’t see a lot of tangible fruit from their efforts. “Last year, three students stated they wanted to follow Jesus, but then quickly backed out,” Pierce says. “It was really hard to deal with emotionally. But ultimately, it is up to the individual to respond to the Holy Spirit working in them, and I cannot make that happen myself.”
Love changes lives
Regardless of disappointments, Pierce and Yae have seen God working, especially in the life of Sumasa, a Japanese student who brought deep hurts into the loving Resonate community. “You could tell he was trying to process why these people cared about him,” Pierce says. “Through that, he accepted Christ and now he is back in Japan, living out his faith there.”
As Yae finishes her education, the couple prays about the future God has for them—one that could include moving to Japan and reaching young people there. “I believe that our time at Resonate has been preparing us to be practical in spreading the gospel,” Yae says. Even though their time with the international students at CWU is limited, they know and believe there is no limit to what God can do.
Pierce and Yae Hite continue to reach international students on the campus of CWU, alongside the Dahls. Jacob and Jessica Dahl started Resonate Church so that young people in Ellensburg, Washington, could be reached with the light of the gospel. For more information about Resonate Church and the Dahls, visit the Missionaries page at anniearmstrong.com