Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Summer Planning: International Ministry

Summer is the time of solving dilemmas in a thoughtful way...not an off the cuff, let's do this type decision. To me, International Ministry is one that requires good thinking. Many don't do International Ministry because it is so specialized and therefore, a huge time issue. And, your time is always an issue.

The case for the need for International College Ministry is simple. The students who come from other countries to our campuses are some of that country's best. Many of them will return to their country to become economic and political leaders. Reach them and we reach future leaders of the world. Some might even argue a case could be made for taking all the money put into sending foreign missionaries and put it into International College Ministry would be more productive long run.

I have never been especially good at International Ministry. That might be your case. Yet, I believe in the huge necessity of it. So, we just ignore it? Obviously, that's not the answer. I think there are different options that do International Ministry that don't make you add a whole other thing into your fall ministry plan that might already be too full. Here are some ideas:

-Enlist American Host Families out of your cooperating churches. Or, if you are church based, enlist them out of your church family. I believe the one most effective ministry we can do is get Internationals paired with an American Christian family. Have a potluck meal and pair your families and students.

-Enlist volunteers to meet once a week with an International student to do conversational English practice. This is always a pressing need.

-Have a regular or occasional meeting for International wives for friendship and conversational English. Many of these wives are in a strange place and existing in a small living situation with no outside contact.

-Have a Thanksgiving Dinner for International students. At the dinner we shared Thanksgiving customs. The first year we did it, we had a good response and the second year, we had a huge response. We did it with 4 different cooperating churches that each did different parts. We had students texting picture of pecan pie to China.

-Give or loan furniture or beds at the start of the semester. You might be surprised how many International students live in unfurnished apartments and sleep on palets on the floor. Some do a version of this with bicycles
atthe start of the fall semester. Many have no transportation and walk great distances.

A friend of mine and his wife do a wonderful job hosting Internationals and some come to Christ. A mutual friend called to ask him what curriculum they used. My friend said, "We have them over to eat; we say the blessing and they say, 'Who is Jesus?' and we tell them". Pretty simple curriculum.

I am not saying you should think about going all in for International Ministry, if that has not been a part of what you have been doing. But, could you do one thing?

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