Jesus told his followers to “Go” make disciples in every nation. On our campuses we don’t have to “Go” very far. God has brought the nations to us. Our campuses are filled with international students. Since many universities are having difficulty balancing their budgets, they are enrolling more international students than ever because they pay significantly more tuition. In the coming decade we will have even more opportunities to disciple the nations in our own backyard!
Here are a couple of ways students are reaching internationals at the University of Texas.
Most campuses have some formal buddy program for international students. Simply sign up to be a “buddy” or a language partner for an international student through your university’s international office. There are usually way more international students than there are buddies, especially for middle eastern students. This is an easy way to meet one international student, and as you’ll find out… meeting one means meeting all of their friends soon after.
Certain departments naturally tend to have more international students. At the University of Texas the engineering programs tends to have a higher concentration of Indian and Chinese students. Naturally, the Arabic department tends to have a higher concentration of middle eastern students, as do other culturally specific programs. If your academic program tends to have more international students, then consider that God’s opportunity for you to reach the nations. Befriend some of the internationals in your department by sitting next to them in class, starting study groups with them, having them over for dinner, or giving them a tour of your city.
Live Where They Live
Often international students live near one another. At the University of Texas many live in UT’s Married Student Housing and in Far West (a part of town northwest of campus that is on a bus route). Students who want to build relationships with international student at UT often choose to live in these two parts of Austin. Their proximity makes it much easier to get together. Find out where international students at your university tend to live, and then ask a friend to room with you in one of those dorms, apartment complexes, or neighborhoods.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.