Adopt an International Student
A majority of international students who come to the U.S. are never invited into an American home, and studies show many of them never make American friends. In an article posted in News Wise, Elisabeth Gareis, associate professor of communication studies at Baruch College, City University of New York, says, “Nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents had no close American friends and would have liked more meaningful interaction with people born here.” Here’s where Christians may be able to make a difference.
Contact the Office of Multicultural Affairs at your local college/university to find out how to connect with an international student, then periodically spend time with them throughout the year. Invite them to dinner at your home, a special community event or take them out for coffee once a month. It may be especially important to ask them about their holiday plans since holidays are often a time they experience homesickness and loneliness.
Although there may be some restrictions as to how much you can share your faith in Jesus with students, if they initiate questions about church and faith, then it is usually fine to share your story with them and to invite them to church with you. As you spend more time with international students, more opportunities to share your faith will come naturally.
Also, there is a great benefit for those connecting with international students to learn about another country and culture. If you have children, they can learn a lot from these students.
Consider establishing a program through your church that can provide some structure and impetus that encourages people to engage in this important connection. An “adoption coordinator,” a person in the church who helps guide the program, can be very beneficial. Why not adopt some international students today?
North Oak Community Church started a program that brings international students into homes for Sunday evening meals. Read their story here.