People not programmes
In all that we do to welcome international students it is vital to remember that our activities are designed to build relationships. They are not an end in themselves. They must help to create community and foster friendships which blossom outside of the organized events.
It is also important to have some activities which are simply designed to connect with students and establish relationships and trust. Students can subsequently be invited to other events where the Bible is opened and the gospel shared.
For further discussion on this topic see our Reflect page.
In the New Testament the Greek word philoxenia which is translated as ‘hospitality’ literally means ‘love (philo) of strangers (xenia)’. Hospitality is therefore not limited to inviting somebody to your home for a meal. It includes every activity that helps a stranger to feel welcomed and loved. In practice this can include both hosting and being hosted.
Providing opportunities to engage meaningfully with the host culture can be an excellent way to meet and build relationships with students from abroad.
Cultural experience, good food, fun activities…a day out can be a great way to build friendships with students.
A regular event for international students can meet both local and other international students.
Most international students are eager to improve their language and understanding of the host culture.
Perhaps the best way to help an international student to meet with Jesus and to engage with the gospel is to get them reading God’s word.