The world’s future leaders are now college students on American campuses.
Chi Alpha staff and students reach out to international students coming to the university. In partnership with local churches, we aim to serve international students, share Christ’s love in the context of friendship, promote mutual understanding and respect, and help equip these students for effective service in the world. Many Christian internationals come from their churches and join hands with Chi Alpha while preparing themselves for future ministry in their countries.
International Student Ministry (ISM) is a division within Chi Alpha, which focuses on reaching out to internationals through friendship, language partnership, coffee conversation, Bible studies, and numerous other activities. American Christians in turn are enriched by the internationals’ culture, shared friendship, spiritual vitality, and desire and dedication to improving their world.
Read Leviticus 19:33-34.
One Nigerian man shared the loneliness he experienced in the dormitory over Christmas break when everyone else had gone home. Coming to a potluck and conversation event sponsored by Chi Alpha, he met an American family who invited him to their home. He said it was the first time he really felt cared for since his arrival in the United States.
A Japanese student began to have emotional and spiritual problems in her last semester of graduate school. A fellow graduate student she met helped her complete the final stage of her studies, when she had difficulty practicing for her master’s recital.
As their friendship developed, this Christian student shared from the words of Jesus, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Weeping, the woman received Jesus. She ran back to her apartment, burned all of her pagan charms and dedicated herself to serving Jesus. Now able to focus and finish her classes, she graduated and returned to her country, a vibrant witness for the Lord.
The strategic nature of this ministry to global missions is significant. Countries that don’t allow traditional missionaries still send their brightest people to other countries to study. The United States has the largest number of international students, but that might not always be the case.
Internationals come eager to learn about American culture, their chosen field of study, and Christianity as well. A Buddhist monk enjoyed the chance to look at what the Bible said, knowing that opportunity was not allowed in his country. He eagerly studies the person and claims of Jesus with other visiting students. These students can be introduced to Jesus in ways unheard of in their homeland, in an atmosphere of warm, personal concern and service.
Foreign students have special needs. Besides possible language adjustments, there are many social and cultural hurdles to overcome. American students and community volunteers help by befriending students, offering hospitality, listening and learning, and spending time with them.
ISM is a beautiful expression of the Biblical command to love the stranger in our midst. Walk wisely. The world has come to our door. Do you have room in your life for one more friend?
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz