About 400,000 missionaries, Protestant and Catholic, serve around the globe. Great! But not as great as it could be. More than three-quarters minister in places already touched by the Gospel. Over three billion people have never heard about Jesus. Not even once.
You can do something about this. It’s not hard. You can do it without ever leaving the States. You can even do it without ever leaving your house.
1.1 Million Men and Women
This year, nearly 1.1 million men and women in the United States have come from other countries to study at American colleges and universities. They contribute an estimated $42 billion to our economy and, we can hope, go back to their home nations with a good impression of our great country.
It’s the potential to reach these people for Christ, though, that should inspire followers of Jesus. Many come from places where the Gospel is either suppressed, like China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Turkey, or not widely known, like India and Japan.
Here’s our opportunity. As many as 80 percent of international students never enter an American home. Many desperately want to.
The impact of these ministries can be profound. Some American-trained Chinese scholars have gone back to China and are using Christian resources they received in the U.S. “in Bible classes in public universities, something no Western missionary could do,” as one American ministry leader notes.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Marc Papai reports that an Indian student, trained in the United States, went back to teach at a top-tier Indian university. He is now “speaking at professional and Christian conferences around the country, bearing faithful witness to the Kingdom in the highest reaches of Indian universities.”
How Do You Talk?
Most internationals are eager to get to know Americans and are delighted to make friends with people who will treat them with kindness, respect and interest. This isn’t to say there won’t be some awkwardness. How do you talk with someone from a completely different culture? What if she says things I find offensive? What if he is extremely quiet and doesn’t communicate well? Or even speak English?
Lots of resources online will help guide you as you reach out to internationals. You don’t have to go it alone. Invite someone you know who’s been to your guest’s home country or someone with experience in international student ministry.
There are a lot of ways to meet them. International Students Ministries, International Students, Inc., and Navigators International Student Ministry are among the ministries connecting American Christians with internationals at local colleges.
There are also campus-specific ministries. Global Friendship Ventures sponsors a “Friendship House” at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Old Dominion, a large state university, hosts about 1,200 international students annually. The Friendship House, commonly called “The Globe,” is a beautiful apartment building designed to provide both a welcoming place for students from around the world and also give those students “opportunities to explore the gospel of Christ.”
The world is coming to our shores. The need to share the truth of Jesus Christ is strong as ever. We’re missing a great opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission by ignoring the internationals all around us.
The Christian Virtue of Hospitality
On top of that, hospitality is a Christian virtue. The apostle Paul commands us to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The writer of Hebrews offers us a startling encouragement. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).
I don’t know if I’ve ever entertained an angel. I do know that can reach many men and women who have never heard the Good News just by asking them over for a meal or a game night. As my friend Rosaria Butterfield says, “the gospel comes with a housekey.”
Rob Schwarzwalder is a senior contributor at The Stream and a senior lecturer at Regent University.
Source: The Stream
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