The International Student You See Everyday
Over a half a million international students are presently studying in the universities of the United States. Most of these students come from the 10/40 Window (that region of the world which church missiologists say is the least reached for Christ). You probably see several internationals everyday as they walk by your office, study in the library, or congregate in the grad student lounge.
What would you imagine is the number one need that most international students feel? For many, it is loneliness. They are far from home, in a strange culture that is rushing along at breakneck speed, and struggling to communicate in a complicated language. As they walk around campus each day they feel constantly out of place, virtually alone.
At the beginning of the school year we have a unique opportunity to help these international students feel a little more at home. When you see one this week, could it be God's way of encouraging you to reach out and make a friend?
What can you do? Let me suggest just a few ideas. Invite them to lunch to get to know them and hear their story. Offer to help with their spoken English. If they arrived only recently, ask if they need any help getting a checking account, finding a car, learning to drive, getting furniture for their apartment, or a host of other practical needs.
If you would like to give your family a flavor of a different culture, why don't you invite the international student and his/her family to your home for dinner? (Many are here with their spouses.) Studies show that less than 10% of internationals studying in the US ever see the inside of an American home. This invitation might lead to a wonderful opportunity for your family to begin a ministry to other internationals. If you would like to read one exciting story of how a faculty member's wife developed an ministry among internationals, check out Kathleen Macasko's story at this web site: http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9702/macosko.html.
After you have developed a relationship with your international friend, you may then have opportunity to begin to share the importance of your faith, invite and bring them to church, etc. There are many excellent resources available to help in your efforts. For instance, there are many great resources available to reach out to Mainland Chinese students at the following web site: http://www.bridgesinternational.com/.
Who can you show Christian love to today?
Scripture: Matthew 25:35 - "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."
Action Point: Pray and ask God for an opportunity to meet and befriend an international student this very week.
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