The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Many involved in ISM have found reading the Bible with an international friend or a group of internationals students to have been a worthwhile and valuable experience. Perhaps you’re considering it, too? If you find the idea daunting, you’re not alone! The good news is that it does get easier, and that there is no one ‘right way’ to do it – you will find the model that best suits you and your situation.
There are many reasons why starting a Bible study for international students could be something for you to consider:
In Mark 4:14, Jesus tells us “the sower sows the word”. That is how Jesus wants people to hear about him, as his people sow the Word.
If Christianity invites us to a personal relationship with Jesus, then reading the Bible is a good way to discover who He is. Studying the Bible together removes the ‘middle man’ and gives the student direct access to God’s word and the teachings of Jesus.
It puts you and the students on the same level, reading and exploring a passage together. It is not you who is telling them what to do or believe. Rather, the text speaks to all or both of you.
One is better able to remember and is more likely to treasure conclusions or truths that have been reached or uncovered for oneself.
Many non-Christians are curious and are willing to read the Bible and discuss what it says. This may begin as an academic pursuit but develop into something more later.
It is a privilege that we get to share God’s Word with others. However, it also comes with great responsibility and Scripture warns us not to distort it. We need to be careful not to twist it to mean what we want it to say. We also need to be careful not to put pressure on those who read with us to become Christian. Allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work while we do ours is sometimes difficult, but it is the only way that hearts can truly turn towards Jesus. We should keep in mind that putting faith in Jesus is often a process that is likely to take time. In the meantime, maintaining a good relationship or forming a friendship can be of great value.
Exploring the Bible and sharing it with international students is sure to challenge you, grow you and encourage you - and could very well change the life of those with whom you read it!
The easiest of all Bible studies to organise. Simply ask a student if they’d like to investigate who Jesus is by reading part of the Bible with you and then fix a time and place. It can be done in a café, in a student room or on a park bench; you can read and discuss a single verse for 5 minutes or a chapter for an hour. It’s very flexible. Good places to begin are some of Jesus’ encounters with people in the gospels, or his teaching with parables, or you might just start at the beginning of a gospel and keep going as long as the student wants to. For sources of good Bible study materials see below.
For some students a group is less threatening than one-to-one and it gives them opportunity to invite friends. Invitations can easily be offered at group social activities as an opportunity to find out what Christians believe. However, planning a group Bible study will require more care in choosing a suitable time and venue and a higher level of preparation of the study itself. As with one-to-one Bible studies you can use prepared studies (see Resources below) or find help in preparing your own questions.
Uncover originally produced by UCCF, invites students to “explore the greatest figure in history, examine the evidence, and uncover the life of Jesus Christ”. The Bible studies are written specifically for those who aren’t Christian and guide you and your friends through the Gospel of Luke or John, where one gets to read first hand who Jesus is and what He did. It’s available in a number of different languages and in an easy English version. Contact your national IFES movement to get more information.
If you’d like to try producing your own questions you can find help here
Contact your national IFES office if you need help finding suitable Bible studies in your own language.