By Sarah G
Sometimes I worry that Christians (myself included) are in danger of missing the bigger picture. We pray, we worship, we study the Bible, and we try to be loving to the people we encounter on a daily basis.
But here’s the thing, as Christians we are called to a mission that goes beyond growing in our relationship with God and beyond loving our neighbors. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus tells us: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This is not something for us to do later in life, “when we get a chance,” or when the opportunity falls right into our lap. It’s not something that is the unique calling of a select group of Christians. This is a commandment. For all of us. Here and now.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to go out and book a plane ticket to a faraway country. Certainly, mission trips are invaluable for sharing God’s love and introducing people to Jesus. But I think there’s room for a little creativity to fulfill this mission right here in our own backyard.
Did you know that international students represent 25% of the graduate student population at Virginia Tech? They come from more than 100 different countries and have diverse religious backgrounds.
And they are hungry for deep relationships with American friends. A recent survey found that 38% of international students studying in the U.S. are unsatisfied by their number of American friends and 27% want friendships that are more meaningful. One in three say they don’t have any close U.S. friends at all.
Let’s do what we can to change this. Let’s invite international students to meals, football games, and hikes. Let’s ask them about their families and life at home. Let’s see how we can make living in the U.S. easier for them- maybe by helping them run errands or practice English.
And let’s ask them to share their religious beliefs with us and be open about our own faith. Think of the impact of even just one student coming to know Christ and returning to his or her home country fired up about the Gospel. Without the barriers of language or cultural differences, they will be uniquely positioned to “make disciples of their nation.”
If any of this sounds interesting and you would like to help develop GAP’s vision for international student outreach, please let me know.