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Coming to America

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For many years Alliance people have labored to send missionaries to unreached peoples in distant lands. Until Christ’s Commission is fulfilled, this remains a critical responsibility of His Church. The Christian and Missionary Alliance will continue to foster “ends-of-the-earth” missional activity until the moment Jesus Christ returns. This is part of our DNA.

Yet increasingly, the mission field is coming to us in North America. Immi-grants arrive every day, many of them from unreached groups Alliance inter-national workers overseas are seeking to reach.

A large, infuential wave of new arrivals hits the shores of North America every August—international students enrolled in advanced degree programs at North American colleges and universities. More than 500,000 of the best and brightest from 180 nations come to the United States each year. Approximately 80 percent of these students are from the 10/40 Window, that area of the globe where the vast majority of remaining unreached peoples are concentrated.

The potential these international students have for influence as they return to their home countries is enormous. As leaders of the future, they usually come to America without their families, feeling alone in a strange new culture, struggling to find their way. Most of them are more open to new ideas and ways of thinking while in North America than at any other time in their lives. What a great opportunity for helping them understand who Jesus is and inviting them to become His faithful followers!

Mary*, an Alliance church member, is called to minister to international students. Since 1979, Mary and her family have been reaching out to these students as well as refugees. This passion and calling began shortly after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, when part of the Afghan king’s cabinet fled the country. The cabinet members eventually ended up in Mary’s hometown, where she and her family befriended and housed the daughter of the king’s advisor. Since then, Mary has started ministries to international students in two large churches, one interdenominational and the other, Alliance.

At both churches a strong base of volunteers was recruited and equipped to lead English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, evangelistic discussion groups and ethnic-specific interaction times as well as host family programs, “friendship partner” ministry, evangelistic and discipleship retreats and eventually an International Christian Fellowship at each church.

After returning to the United States from Pakistan, where Mary taught English to Afghan refugees, she developed an International House of Women, focused on reaching women from Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. Mary befriends them, demonstrates the love of Christ in practical ways, advocates for them as needed and watches for open doors of opportunity to talk with them about the Lord. Recently, two Afghan women put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more international students across our nation reached with the gospel? We are currently investigating the possibilities for international student ministry multiplication as we survey the interest and resources available in the Alliance family.

  • Do you currently have a ministry to international students in your church? Which church?
  • What is your current strategy?
  • What is your role in this ministry?
  • What skills and gifts are you utilizing?
  • Are you interested in expanding this ministry?
  • Is there an individual/group in your church interested in starting an international ministry?
  • Is this a vision you believe you are called to invest in financially?
  • Is there office equipment you are willing to donate?

If you or your church would like to respond to these questions and learn more about how you can help this campus ministry, please contact Lynette Wessells at wessellsl@cmalliance.org.

*Name changed

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