One of my favorite Christmas books is The Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke. Short and delightfully written, the fourth wise man never caught up with the three acclaimed wise men who gave gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the child Jesus. What a loser, one might even say.
I’d like to propose that international students and faculty are in fact the wise men. Wise men and women – from the east, west, south, and the north. “The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” Rev 21:26. International graduate students, scholars, researchers, and faculty embody the glory and honor of the nations.
These “wise people” from the nations are on their journey to seek knowledge, meaning, and purpose in life. What will they find here in the universities and colleges that espouse knowledge and learning?
It is easy to recognize that international students and faculty are not from around here – they are our guests. In international student ministry, we extend hospitality as a means of ministry, and certainly, it is. We welcome the stranger and in doing so, we welcome and serve the Lord Jesus himself.
As newcomers to our country, we welcome our new guests and friends with great hospitality, honor, and respect. Practical help includes picking them at the airport, providing temporary housing, and/or helping furnish their empty apartments (often with fabulous roadside finds). Social support comes from our chapter activities and warm, genuine friendship. We pray that we would also meet their spiritual needs by engaging in spiritual conversations and study of the word. Upon meeting Christ, what gifts will they lay before Jesus?
And what gifts will they bring to us? They offer perspectives and (at times uncomfortable) insights that honor Jesus. Might they contribute to our fellowship’s leadership, growth, or even to starting a new group? Might they challenge our efforts in evangelism and even our views of freedom, politics, church, and culture?
What gifts do your international students and faculty bring to your ministry?
About the author:
Bok Chew. a former Intl student from Malaysia and former banker in MS, has been working for InterVarsity together with Heidi his German wife for 20 years in Cleveland, OH, focusing on international graduate students and faculty. He loves partnering with American area volunteers for their gregarious hospitality to advance InterVarsity's mission to reach every corner of the campus. Simultaneously, he is amazed at all the nice stuff thrown away that is so easily used for ministry.