My last post addressed the new stats released by the Institute of International Education. The United States has reached a record high in the number of international students now enrolled in its colleges and universities. I consider this a very good situation. It is a wonderful opportunity for the Church to serve the nations.
Go back to that post and look at the chart on the top countries of origin. China and India are the two largest sending nations. Turkey, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan also make the top ten list. Many of the top twenty-five countries have experienced large percent increases of students sent within the past year.
But, do we see the hand of the Lord in such movements?
Many of the least reached and unreached peoples of the world are coming to our communities to study, learn American cultures, and make friendships. Unfortunately, many churches in the United States are not aware of such wonderful migrations. While the greatest needs for the gospel are by far outside of the United States, the sad reality is that while many of us struggle to figure out ways to get into other nations, we fail to recognize the Sovereign Lord at work in our own communities.
We often pass the peoples we are trying to reach at 35,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific. They fly past us at 530 miles per hour on their way to our neighborhoods. They are willingly coming to our communities while we’re struggling to get into theirs.
We are called to go into all the world and make disciples. We are supposed to continue to go into all the world to the least reached and unreached. Again, the greatest need is absolutely “over there.”
However, what kind of theology and missiology supports going “over there” and fails to advocate going “down the street”?
What kind of stewards are we if we are willing to spend large amounts of money, time, and energy on reaching people groups–at great risk–and are not willing to connect with someone from that same group who wants to have tea or coffee with us at the local shop?
The Great Commission knows no geographical boundaries. The churches, networks, and denominations that will be the most effective in making disciples of all nations in a highly globalized twenty-first century world are those who strategically integrate all of their missional activities. They will bring together the domestic and international realms.
And there is no better place to start than by loving and serving those wonderful students who have come to study in our backyards.