Dinner for students to learn about Good Friday

Kalyn Hayslett, Verge Editor

Charleston Community Church has partnered with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries to host a dinner and celebration for all international students called “Why is today Good Friday?”.

From 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday at Pemberton Hall, students can mingle while listening to live music and enjoy a free home cooked meal.

The main dish is lamb biryani, which is a traditional Indian meal consisting of lamb rice , vegetables and spices as well as several vegetarian options.

Easter is an American holiday so several international students may not be aware of the holiday and may not know the meaning behind it or how to celebrate it.

Both C3 pastor Sangram Kodavatikanti and Chi Alpha pastor Mark Bettinger have led Christian congregations, which share the same goal of spreading the gospel with students.

“(Bettinger) has a heart for students and I have a heart for international students so we kind of worked together,” Kodavatikanti said.

The purpose of the dinner is to explain the message of Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to students who may not have ever heard it before.

“As a pastor my heart is to reach out and tell people about Jesus. It is important for people to understand the death of Jesus Christ,” Kodavatikanti said. “I don’t want to change their religion; I just want to share and explain.”

Kodavatikanti was born in India and was a former international student so he is able to relate to the students and makes it part of his ministry to reach those students.

Several U.K. Christians were kind to him and he wants to pay it forward, Kodavatikanti said.

“I felt so blessed by church people who helped me,” Kodavatikanti said. “They did that out of the goodness of their heart and I want to do that in Charleston.”

Keshob Sharma, graduate economics major, said he plans on going to the dinner because he has respect for Pastor Kodavatikanti.

“Pastor is inviting us as a good gesture and to make us feel at home,” Sharma said. “He is a welcoming guy.”

Sharma does practice Hinduism; however, he is open to learn more about different religions.

Sharma said he hopes to make friends, hear pastor Kodavatikanti explain more about Easter and have a fabulous dinner as well.

Qian Cheng, the secretary of Chinese Students Scholars Association, said he is curious to learn about American religion because China doesn’t have a national religion.

“I personally don’t have a religion but a lot of Chinese students are willing to go to church because It’s a way to understand American culture,” Cheng said.

The dinner is mainly geared for international students; however, everyone is welcome to come to the dinner.

The message about Good Friday will be shared in a laid back setting so students can come with questions.

“(There are) so many  students from so many backgrounds here,” Kodavatikanti said. “God has blessed us to serve students here.”

Sharma is looking forward to the dinner and is excited about it.

“It will be a success because so many international students will attend and learn more about Easter and American Culture,” Sharma said.

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]