Jonathan Bello, director of international students, leads the International Center at California Baptist University. The mission of the International Center is focused on Christ, culture and community.
As the director of international students, what kind of work do you do?
In the job itself I deal a lot with the government regulations, so I work with Immigration Services Department of the U.S. Government. Another aspect of we do is building community. We do a lot of activities to build relationships.
We are not like International Service Projects or United States Projects because we do not go out. What we do is we minister with the students that come to us. We meet with them and that is just our passion. We disciple. We train. We guide.
Where are you from?
I was born in the Philippines. My family moved here. My dad is a church planter and pastor in Las Vegas, Nev. So we moved here when I was a teenager and lived in Las Vegas.
Why did you get your master’s degree?
I went to CalState San Bernardino for my master’s degree in education with the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) option.
The reason I have the TESL degree is because you can go to any part of the world that does not speak English and work there. It is a ministry. [Our] strategic plan was, “How do we get to spend time in another country sharing the gospel and how could we get visas to stay in those countries?”
You lived in Korea doing missions work, what was that experience like?
We went to Korea and lived there for a total of eight years combined and two years of furlough—so a total of 10 years. We were missionaries there. We worked for an organization called the Network of International Christian Schools.
I’ll talk about one of the students from the Middle East area. He ac- cepted the Lord when he was in second grade and his family was going. He wanted to keep reading the Bible, but his parents said, “You can’t bring the Bible with you back home.”
We got him Pokemon cards that had Bible verses and he went home with it. He emailed me a few years after that…he was in fourth grade and he was still reading his Pokemon cards.
There are stories like that where the gospel was preached to kids and they have to go back to countries that we [as Christians] could never go into and they become missionaries in their own country.
I really enjoyed it, that’s why we stayed so long.
Tell me about your family.
My wife and I have the same passion—we love working with different cultures. Our senior year at CBU we started dating. We realized we had the same passion and that there would not be any hindrance if we decided to go do missions inside of the country or outside of the country—that we would be compatible in that. Her name is Michelle.
We have three kids. Abby is 10, Emma is 7 and Joshua is 3. Abby lived about three and half years in Korea. Emma was born there. Joshua was born here. He’s our all-American boy.
What is your advice for students wanting to do missions work?
God calls us all to do some kind of work. It maybe be here in America, or it maybe be overseas. Do it with your whole heart. It’s not really us work- ing; it is the Holy Spirit working in us. If we are obedient, God will work in miraculous ways. It says in Romans 13, “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” That’s such a simple verse. You tell somebody, they hear it and they respond to it.