Global Friends is a community partner that exists to meet the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the international student and refugee community in Omaha. Led by Julie Arant, Global Friends hosts regular meetings and events for internationals to promote friendship and community and to introduce them to Christ. Ever since she could remember, Julie has had a personal and missional connection to those who have come from afar to the Midwest. Growing up in a family led by an extrovert, evangelist father and a mother who exuded hospitality, it was normal to host students and families from every nation in their home.

Julie explains, “My earliest recollection of this was at the age of 12 when my Dad brought home a family with six children whom he had met at the shopping mall. They came for breakfast and Dad led them to Christ. He brought home random students, singles and families all the time. My Mom showed mercy and hospitality, and watching them gave me a gospel vision.”

Over and over, Julie’s Dad and Mom would extend help and hospitality to people across the city. Julie started serving and supporting students and families alongside her parents. It came to a point where Julie’s dream of being a medical missionary in Africa was replaced with the dream of serving the nations locally. Global Friends was launched from this dream.

After serving with a church in Minneapolis Julie went to China to study. When she got word that her Dad was dying of cancer, Julie returned and saw her Dad sharing Christ with others even on his deathbed.

Julie said, “I remember him saying that if even just one person came to Christ as a result of his death, it would be worth it.” During that time Julie brought a Japanese student home with her. Her Dad welcomed the student to Omaha and shared gospel stories with her before he died. At his funeral this student came to Christ, which sparked a revival among Japanese students in Omaha.

God continued to work and Global Friends continued to grow. God began saving international students, scholars and refugees.

“There was a student that I hosted who came to Christ,” Julie described. After dinner one night, Julie told her she was going to spend time with Jesus. The student went to her own bedroom and began to look under her bed and all around the room. She asked me, “Where’s Jesus?” I shared with her the verse that says, “If you search for me, you will find me.” So, we began reading the Bible and praying together. She prayed, “Jesus, if you are real, please show yourself to me.” While singing a worship song at church the Holy Spirit came down there and she accepted Jesus as her Savior. A few months later she said, “Julie, Japan needs Jesus. They need worship teams to go across to Japan. Jesus, send us to Japan.” After that, she and other Christians formed a worship team and gave concerts in Japan. When she came back to Omaha, she said, “Julie, God is calling me back to my people.” Nozomi is now married, and she her husband Kevin are currently planting their third church, this one among the largest concentration of unreached people in Japan.

More international students come to America from Japan than from any other country. Recently, another student from Japan came to faith and was baptized before returning to Japan. A volunteer who served with Global Friends has been praying for him and for God to send him a Christian friend. When praying for him, God told her “You are the friend.” She has since quit her job and is planning to move to Japan to disciple the students she met in Omaha, and other Japanese.

God has also brought refugees to Omaha from least-reached nations. Last year Julie saw several boys walking by her house, and offered them water and bikes. The next day she saw a row of refugee men on her front porch. Together with her brother Don they went to Goodwill and bought some bikes. They took one to the Trek bike store to get it fixed, but the employees said it was not worth fixing and threw it away, instead offering another used bike. Since then, Trek has given Global Friends scores of bikes. Don continues to develop the Global Friends refugee ministry.

Global Friends includes refugee youth in one of the Friday night discovery Bible studies. The home group first shows a video clip of the Bible story so that the youth can see it, as some are illiterate. One night they showed a video of the story of Jesus walking on water. One of the refugees, “D”, got so excited that he ran into another room and said to Don, “Jesus is so good. He walked on water, saved man.” Not long after that, Don asked “D” if he wanted to help him deliver groceries to refugee families. While they delivered groceries, “D” asked Don, “This food is from Jesus, isn’t it?” “D” has an openness to Jesus and has been bringing other refugees to the Friday night group.

About a month ago, “D” had seizures and was admitted to the hospital. After several days in a coma, God miraculously healed him in answer to the prayers of many across the city. Julie visited him and told him that many people had been praying for him. He responded, “How many? How much?” His heart was deeply moved by those prayers and sees that it is Jesus who healed him. Global Friends believes that “D” is a person of peace and gateway into the refugee community. More refugees continue moving to Omaha, many of whom have never met a Christian or heard of Jesus.

Forty years after Julie’s Dad opened their home to students and families and led some to Christ, that same home is being used to show the love of Christ and hospitality to the nations through Global Friends.

By God’s grace there are now also Global Friends sites in Bellevue and Lincoln, Nebraska, Vermillion, and Okoboji, Iowa. Global Friends is also responding to requests from other cities in Nebraska and Colorado to provide help in reaching internationals in their communities.

Some ways to serve with Global Friends are to:

  1. Become a prayer partner.
  2. Be matched with a student or refugee to practice English.
  3. Provide a meal for one of the weekly home groups.
  4. Volunteer for or sponsor one of the large group outreaches.
  5. Offer your home for a weekly home group if you live near one of the university campuses.
  6. Donate toward the cost of meals or events.

For more information on Global Friends and to volunteer, email

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