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FIRST-PERSON: The time is now

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Are there things you really want to do but with the busyness of life you keep putting them off? “Next year,” you promise yourself, “we’ll host an international student.”

Well, “next year” is here.

The school year is underway and you have the opportunity to be a friend to an international student. Don’t let another year go by without following through on your desire to host an international student. Now is the time!

Friends are needed not only to welcome and help students adjust to a new country but also to share their lives and homes with those who have traveled so far from their native lands.

Here are 10 great ways to connect/adopt international students as compiled by state convention collegiate ministry leaders Tom Knight, Teresa ‘Bit’ Stephens, Teresa Royall and Chris Mills:

1. Pray for God to open your heart to minister to an international student or scholar.

2. Read a resource like “Foreign to Familiar” or “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” to understand cross-cultural ministry.

3. Seek out an organization or church that is doing international student ministry and ask to volunteer.

4. Partner with someone who has more experience in international ministry and learn from them how to interact with international students and scholars.

5. Spend time with students listening to who they are, to their context and to what matters to them. Developing good listening skills is important for understanding a student’s context, and English conversation is a key avenue to connect with international students and scholars.

6. Find out if a local university or student organization on campus has a host family or a friendship program and volunteer to adopt a student.

7. Ask your small group, Sunday School class or group of friends to pray for you as you befriend your student. You need support. This also creates awareness for ministry to international students and scholars.

8. Learn as much as you can about your student’s culture, religion, language and program of study. The more you know, the more you can minister appropriately to your student.

9. Have fun with your student as you invite him or her into your family to share a meal, attend an event or just hang out. Time in your home and connections over holidays are easy ways to engage international students and scholars.

10. Pray for God to give you wisdom and grace in sharing the Gospel with your student in appropriate ways during the school year and beyond.

A multitude of ministry opportunities awaits you. Just think, you will be building friendships, meeting needs and ministering to the students God has brought to your doorstep. And if God has called you or your church to engage a particular people group, consider that they might not just live in their homeland — they could be a student at your local university.

Don’t let another year pass you by. The time is now to follow through and let God use you and your family to touch an international student’s life.

Looking for resources to help you minister to international students? Here’s a list of websites with ideas and resources that can help:





And if you are looking for more opportunities to learn about ministering to international students, consider attending the Reaching the Nations in North America Summit in Wake Forest, N.C., on Oct. 27-28. Find out more here.

    About the Author

  • Terry Sharp

    Terry Sharp is the director/lead strategist for the International Mission Board’s urban mobilization strategies.

    Read All by Terry Sharp ›