Imagine you are traveling to a country you have never visited before for a two-year study abroad experience. It is a place where English is not spoken as the primary language, and you had to show a strong aptitude to speak and work in another language, that of the host country and university, before being accepted.
You will not be able to find (at least not in the short term), a grocery store where you can buy food and drink that you are used to back home. Instead, you will have to taste, eat, and learn to enjoy food that is unfamiliar to you.
Imagine being in another country for two years, where you will not see, hear, or experience any of the American holidays you are used to, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or even the 4thof July. You may have access to NFL Gameday on your mobile device, but most major sports events are not that important in your host country. The Internet is free and available where you are going and will be a saving grace in many ways. You are leaving family and friends behind and will not be able to travel home during the next year or so, primarily due to cost and distance.
The good news for most Americans is that we don’t have to leave America for a fine education. Yet close to a million international students do travel to the United States for some or much of their educational development. These men and women are well-mannered, highly motivated, and eager to travel to our country, yet still have to face and overcome language, customs, and food barriers, including separation of family for the time they are guests in America.
How should we as followers of King Jesus reach out to these guests from almost every nation on Earth? How can we aid them in their transition (brief as it is) to life in our country and the college or university they come to study in? Do we have room in our life for one more friend?
Read Acts 8:26-40.
The Lord re-assigned Philip from leading a spiritual awakening to going out to meet a visiting government official from Ethiopia who was traveling to Jerusalem on business. Philip obeyed the Holy Spirit and went out of this way to find and welcome him to his country. Philip made time in his life to get close to this African man and learn of his felt needs. Philip earned his trust by treating him with dignity and asking how he could serve him. His initial efforts to meet and greet the visitor gained traction when the government man invited Philip to sit with him in his chariot.
The Ethiopian was reading a familiar passage known to Philip, and Philip asked him about his chosen topic. When the man admitted he had questions about the person in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, Philip supplied needed answers he learned from his own study. The Ethiopian was grateful for Philip’s spiritual insight’s and hospitality, and shortly after, asked about becoming a follower of the King Isaiah described.
Philip models the kind of hospitality and friendship we offer to international students today in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. Had you been Philip, would you know the Scriptures well enough to answer a seeking person’s questions? How will you grow in your understanding of Jesus’ teachings to be prepared for divine appointments? Serve globally. Join us in following Philip’s example and make room in your life for an international friend.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz