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Reaching International Students for Christ

Why Pigeon Forge?

Pigeon Forge is a major tourist town near the entrance of the Smoky Mountain National Park, which makes it a strategic location for international students to find employment through work and travel programs.

Tennessee Tourist Destination

Over 10 million people visit the Smoky Mountain National Park each year. With its close proximity, Pigeon Forge has become the most popular family vacation destination in the state.

What Is a "Work and Travel" Program?

A Work and Travel Program is a government program for students from top universities from around the world that allows them to experience the American culture. The students are provided a job and a place to live for four months. After their work commitment, the students are free to travel throughout the United States before returning home.

Over 3000 students from 20 different countries come to...

Over 3000 students from 27 different countries come to Sevier County to work in the cities of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. Because this is the first visit to the United States for many of the young people, feelings of isolation and uncertainty are common experiences among the international students.

Ministry House

The Ministry House is easily accessed from the main parkway, which runs through the entire county. Students from various locations come here by foot, bike or trolley to find a safe place to spend their free time and to get assistance during their transition. It is here that they make friends from all around the world.

The Key Connections

The key connections that make the Student Center a home away from home for so many students is language and culture. Even though there are students from many different countries, the majority come from the former USSR. Because the Kochan family come from Russia, they have the ability to communicate directly with the students in their own cultural context.


By networking together, volunteers and churches share the love of Jesus and the message of the Good News with the confidence that students’ hearts will be drawn to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

1. Evangelism

Phase 1 - Evangelism: On an average day we have up to 100 students visit the Student Center. We try to use every opportunity to present Christ to the internationals through one-on-one evangelism, weekly special outreach events like our "Borsch Parties," Christian concerts, church services with sync translation into Russian. It is important that they hear the Gospel in terms they clearly understand to make an intelligent decision concerning faith in Christ.

2. Discipleship

Phase 2 - Discipleship: With God's guidance, each year I prayerfully determine which students to include in a close circle of disciples. By the end of the season these new believers have been through an intensive discipleship course designed to give them a solid foundation for a new life in Christ. They are also equipped to share their faith with others when they travel back to their native countries.

3. Media Church

Phase 3 - Media Church: When the international students leave Tennessee to return to their own countries, they are excited about their new friends and recent discoveries of the ways of Jesus Christ. Some are convicted and are strong in their new found faith; some are skeptical with many questions that need answered before being fully convinced that what they've heard is the truth. No matter what the situation, the students need constant attention and follow-up after they return home. Our goal is to continue teaching via webinars, online classrooms and blogs. Currently we use Skype and email to continue discipling the students, but these methods of communication limit us in the number of students we can reach at one time.


4. Future Expansion:

In the last four years, we've witnessed an increasing openness to the Gospel among the international students, and so we believe that the Lord is expanding our vision for this ministry. Because God is sending the youth of the nations to the United States to hear and respond to the Gospel, we are asking Him to open doors for future student centers to be established in various parts of the USA, personnel and volunteers to participate, and financial support to help under gird these various student centers.

Would you consider asking God how you could become a part of this unique ministry that is literally reaching the nations for Christ right here in the United States? Perhaps your own church or a group of Christians that you are affiliated with would like for us to come and personally share about the international student ministry and our expanding vision. If so, please contact us and we'll be glad to set up a time to share what God is doing through the International Student Ministry.

You can help in the implementation of this vision! Start here!