Ways to Minister to International Students
With the amount of international students studying in America climbing each year to record highs, it is vitally important that we as the church take every opportunity we can to reach these students. Reaching international students means reaching the world. Here are some ideas that you can implement in your church and campus ministry to effectively reach these students.
- Host families
- This is a great way to get people in your church involved in the campus ministry. Most schools desire families in the community to be a host family for an international student. This is a great avenue that is open even if your campus ministry is not recognized on campus. The school will pair up an international student with a family. This family will have the student over at their house, attend church, provide transportation to stores or possibly an airport. This builds a relationship with the student and will allow the church to reach and disciple him or her. Contact the Office of International Education for more information on how to get your church family involved.
- Appalachian State has a program where they pair up students and international students. This is similar to the host family except it is a student hosting. This is another great way for your students to reach out and make an impact. These students will be able to build a relationship that will allow for opportunities to love on these students, witness, and invite them to church and Bible study. Contact the Office of International Education or the International Student club for more information.
- Helping with English
- Many international students do not speak English fluently. You can offer a class to help them understand and speak the language clearly.
- Host a dinner or provide transportation
- There may be an opportunity outside of the host family for your church or campus ministry to host a dinner for these students. This is a way for these students to experience American culture. You could do cultural lessons, explain common English phrases, and more at one of these dinners. There may be a need at your school for transportation to and from the airport. Contact the Office of International education or there is usually an international club on campus that you can work through. Sometimes there are separate clubs for specific ethnic groups. Do not be afraid to reach out to these groups for any open doors.
- Provide a separate Bible study for international students
- This is a great way to gather international students around God’s Word. Some international students are believers. There is a need to find and connect these students to a group of believers and a church to attend. You may attract more international students if there is a meeting specifically for them.
- Find and talk with international students
- These students are easy to find and recognize on campus. Many of the international students will group together. Find them and be willing to talk. There many questions you can ask a person from another country just to start a conversation. Just work on building relationships and see what God will do. Showing a genuine interest in other people goes a long way. Invite them to lunch, dinner, Bible study, etc.
- Target international students when witnessing
- As you are evangelizing your campus, target international students. This maybe the only opportunity for them to receive the Gospel, a tract, or a Bible. They may only be here for one semester or only one year. We may never know. Anytime I see an international student I make a specific aim at speaking and witnessing to them.
We have seen international students come to faith in Christ, get involved in the campus ministry, and in church. These students will return home with the Gospel seed in their heart and be able to reach those in their own country.