There are millions of needs around the world, and millions of ways to invest in those needs. With all the needs around the world, why should someone invest their time and energy in seeing international students reached with the gospel? During my time in ministry, God has led me to understand this calling in many ways, but I’d like to share two reasons that are especially poignant to me.
1. The Heart of God
God does not desire to have a mono-ethnic family. Since creation and the fall, God has planned and been taking the initiative to gather a multi-ethnic family from every nation, tribe, people, and language. The Bible is filled with passages, and even whole books such as Jonah and Ruth, expressing God’s heart to see all people knowing and worshipping Jesus. Here are three passages that express God’s heart for all peoples:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;I will make your name great,and you will be a blessing, I will bless those who bless you,and whoever curses you I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Genesis 12:1-3
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain,and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.Revelation 5:9-10
These three passages teach us that God’s plan, from the beginning of time, was to bless all the peoples of the world through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. And in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands his church to be His ambassadors who invite the nations to receive the blessing He offers.
The first reason to partner in an international student ministry is because its goal is to join God in taking His gospel to the peoples of the world, most of whom have never heard the gospel or had a chance to respond to it.
2. Strategic way to reach the unreached
I would encourage anyone to partner with an international student ministry because it is near to the heartbeat of God, and because it is one of the most strategic ways to reach the unreached peoples of the world. When I say ‘unreached,’ I am talking about people who have little to no access to the gospel. I am talking about a people who live in countries that are less than 2% evangelical Christian. Most of these unreached peoples live in the Middle East and Asia.
There are over 1 million international students studying on college campuses in the United States, and it is no coincidence that two thirds of those students are coming from the Middle East and Asia. God is providentially bringing unreached peoples to the most gospel-rich country in the world. Acts 17:26-27 tells us that God is doing this so that they would ‘seek Him…and find Him’.
Not only is international student ministry near to the heartbeat of God, but it is one of the most strategic ways the church in America can reach the unreached. The goal of good international student ministries is to win international students to Christ, build them as faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus, and then send them back to their home countries as disciple makers and church planters. If international student ministers can engage international students, win them to Christ, and build them as faithful and fruitful disciples, then we can see whole countries changed by the gospel without—ever leaving the United States!
As I said, there are many things that are worthy of our time and our investment. I am certainly biased because of the fruit I have witnessed, but I can honestly say that international student ministry is one of the most worthy and fruitful causes to invest in, and one that has blessed me immensely, due to its nearness to the heartbeat of God and the strategic nature of the work.