How to Witness to International Students (Part 2)
Now that we are reaching out to international students, opportunities to share the Gospel will come next. It can be intimidating to begin sharing the gospel with a person from another country and religion. Why? There may be a slight language barrier that makes it hard to communicate clearly and easily. You may feel you are not an expert of their religion in order to “win the argument” of who’s religion is right. It may be you just do not know where to begin. Here are a few thoughts as we try to engage an international student and share the gospel with them effectively.
- Do not try to cram it all into one conversation. With international students there can be a lot of cultural and religious background that must be sorted through. It takes time. It takes multiple conversations of asking and answering questions. It takes time to build a relationship where they see you are real and genuine. It takes time for you to understand their way of thinking and belief. There may be situations when you only have a couple minutes and you will more than likely never see this person again. It can be hard to know what to say. Just talk about the person of Jesus. I always try to get some printed tract or a Bible in their hand. The Bible always seems to perk their interest and can bring more questions.
- You are not converting the student from one religion to another. On the surface that is what we think we are trying to do, convert this person from their religion to ours. Trying to convert a person from Islam to Christianity or Buddhism to Christianity can hinder the conversation and progress severely. People from other countries view America and Christianity as the same. You may be unknowingly asking them to leave and disgrace their family, identify with immorality, or become American. What are we trying to do then? You are not converting them to Christianity but inviting them to become a follower of Jesus Christ. This is the lesson I have learned so strongly. To many international students the term “Christianity” or “Christian” is repulsive. One word can be a total road block for the Gospel. I watched as an international student my wife and I worked with for over a year believed who Jesus says He is and wanted to be saved but becoming a “Christian” was a complete roadblock because of what this word meant to her. This student was hung right there. It was during this time that I used what my close friend who works with Muslims had talked with me about, invite them to become a follower of Jesus. This changed everything! Right there she wanted to become a follower of Jesus. We have to remember we are not trying to get people to identify with a religion but to follow a person. It is interesting to note that Jesus never invited anyone to become a Christian. His invitation eighteen times in the Gospel records is “follow me”. The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament and never by Jesus Himself.
- Make much of Jesus. It is not about winning any argument of who’s religion is right. This misses the entire point of the gospel completely. The gospel is entirely about a person and that is Jesus. It amazes me now as I witness that talking about the person of Jesus truly draws people’s interest. I used to hit a road block trying to witness to Muslim students. They were muslim and I was Christian, end of conversation. Now as I talk about the person of Jesus or the prophet Jesus we have common ground. They are actually interested in Him. Think of that! They are not interested in the religion of Christianity. One in the same in many American’s eyes yes, but not one in the same if the word Christianity does not properly represent Jesus to another. I have learned to talk about Him now and it has revolutionized my witnessing. Learn to talk about Jesus and invite people to become followers of Him. As you talk about Him sin, hell, and eternal life will naturally come out.
- Draw the net. As the Holy Spirit leads, make sure you bring them to a point of decision. Make it clear that they need to respond to Jesus’s invitation to follow Him. Give them time. This will be a big decision especially if this student has any type of religious background.
- Be patient, prayerful, and allow the Holy Spirit to Work. For missionaries working in foreign countries, it can take them a time of building relationships and continual conversations to see a person come to Christ. It can take the same here in the states. I’m not saying that an international student cannot be saved at the first conversation because God can and has done just that. Be patient but persistent in your witness.