Diaspora Ministry: International Students
My friend Rich Mendola is CEO of International Friendships, Inc., a ministry to international students based in Columbus, Ohio. Recently I asked him why this form of diaspora work is such an efficient way to reach the world for Christ.
He said, “80% of international students will return to the most unreached nations of the world. The majority of international students are coming from the least evangelized nations of the world, nations that include a number of unreached people groups.
“And when they return, they are already language proficient, they're already culturally adapted, and most of them are financially self-supporting, and they are relationally connected. And in addition to that, they're going to be in influential positions where they can access large numbers of people.
“When international students come to America, they can have a tremendous impact when they return to their homeland, provided they develop certain skills and have been discipled to have a heart for Christ.
“The second reason is while they're here, they are removed from the cultural and family influences that tend to keep them away from considering the gospel. And because they're international students, they cannot cling to their cultural bonds like immigrants sometimes do. So they are more open to form new relationships and to consider new ideas, especially in a university setting that contributes to them listening to the gospel.
“Now the third factor is because many of them come with a passion and a heart to see their nations improve. They are already like a Nehemiah in the Bible, who had a heart for Jerusalem. There are many students who have a heart for the cities of the world, and if that can be channeled in the direction of the gospel, their education can be a platform to have a tremendous impact.
“So for all of these reasons, international student ministry can accelerate the completion of the Great Commission.”