The Nations. Here. Now.
This fall, thousands of international students from countries all over the world zipped up their 50lb checked bag, kissed their mothers goodbye, and headed halfway across the globe to this far away land known as Austin, Texas. Certainly wonder and excitement filled their first few days as they discovered this new and exciting place. However, enthusiasm quickly fades to shock as reality settles in – they stand alone, staring down the barrel of two, four or six years in this bizarre world that feels like a million miles from home.
In his book Two Years in the Melting Pot, former international student Liu Zongren expresses the difficulty he experienced,
“I knew my misery came not only from missing my family, but also from the frustration of being unable to learn (in English). People in Beijing must be thinking I was enjoying myself here in the richest country in the world. Yet I was suffering, not because people in America were rejecting me, but because they didn’t understand me and didn’t seem to care how I felt-and because I didn’t understand them, either. After my three classes each day, I wandered around the campus like a ghost.”
However, this does not have to be the case. If given the opportunity, hundreds of international students would jump at the chance to receive an invitation to an American home where they can intimately encounter American culture, experience love from an American family and of course, taste authentic American food that doesn’t come in an extra value meal.
In an interview with Bridges, the international student ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, former Time Magazine journalist and author David Aikman shares some fascinating discoveries he made by while researching the experiences of Mainland Chinese who studied in America and returned home. Through focus groups conducted in 9 Chinese cities, two predominant themes rose to the surface.
“About 90% of the people who’d had good experiences were now Christians. And why? Because they had been befriended by Christians, invited to American homes, loved, accepted, respected, helped, taken to church picnics … They had been so overwhelmed by the love towards them that they had become believers in Jesus Christ.”
“Unfortunately,you could also see the other people around the table who had spent most of their time in labs, in libraries, going home to eat noodles and watch Kung Fu videos with 6 other Chinese students in a tiny apartment. And those people came back with a negative view of this country and just about everything.”
God has truly brought the world to Austin. He has given us the opportunity to reflect His love to the nations and join Him in literally changing the face of eternity. It is as simple as setting another place at the table once a month. If you would like more information how your family can encounter the life changing experience of “adopting” an international student into your home, please contact Kevin Niemann. Adopting a student simply means opening your home to a student once a month for a meal. The university will match your family with an international student and Bridges will provide you with tips and resources to effectively minister to your students in a gracious, loving way. The nations are truly here, now!