It all started when I posted an ad a month ago on Craigslist selling a used U Lock for a bicycle. Two days later he called and asked if the lock was still available, and I told him it was. We met the next day a block from Fenway Park (home of the Boston Red Sox) and made the exchange.
He told he was a visiting scholar from China and would be returning home in a month after a year of research in electrical engineering at Boston University (BU). He asked what I did professionally and I said I was a friend of college students. I gave him examples of how I lived that out, including serving as a conversation partner for international students. He was surprised to learn of such assistance and asked if there were people like me near his lab. I said there probably were, but I would be glad to meet with him for the final few weeks he was in the United States. He said he would be very interested to meet with me to practice his English, and we have met several times over the past few weeks for conversation.
I learned he was one of twenty-one PhD students in his department at BU, but eighteen of the twenty-one were from China, and none were American. He said he had hoped to have had an American friend and visit an American home while he was here, but it had not happened until he met me. Barbara and I hosted him in our home for dinner and he enjoyed for the first time mashed potatoes and green beans (and chicken). He asked me to teach him about baseball, so we watched a Little League game on TV for one lesson. We attended a Red Sox game yesterday and he enjoyed a Fenway Frank (hot dog) and large pretzel with mustard (both also for the first time).
I have been privileged to care for a young man who wanted to experience more of America than just an engineering lab. I have gotten to know a scholar and bright young man. My friend Dong returns to China next week, and I watered his life with time, kindness, conversation, a meal in my home, and a lot of talk about the game of baseball (what a hard game to describe, too).
God wants all of us in the Church to participate in caring ministry to the college students around us. One way each of us can do so is to serve as a conversation partner for an international student on a campus near where we live. My prayer and hope is that every Chi Alpha student and staff member will intentionally reach out to a foreign student. I also pray that every Christian in the U.S. would do the same in cooperation with a local Chi Alpha chapter, or another expression of the Body of Christ on campus (i.e., Campus Crusade for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, The Navigators, Baptist Campus Ministry, or International Students Incorporated).
Read the narrative of the Ethiopian in Acts 8:26-40. Then think about this:
1) International students studying in the United States come here at no expense to the Christian Church; 2) Most international students speak English fluently; 3) Many international students come from countries closed to the influence of the message of Jesus, yet can be easily contacted as they study here; 4) International students have left behind all that makes life secure and are often lost and lonely; 5) International students are seeing and experiencing new things every day in this country and constantly have to adapt to change and culture shock; 6) International students will, in the future, be making the rules for missionary activity in their country.
All of us can participate in God’s global mission. Will you make yourself available? Take a look at www.onemorefriend.org (a Chi Alpha resource site) and join me in serving globally.
Love is a verb,