“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:34, NIV).
“The nations are coming to America” almost seems cliché. College campuses in the United States are teeming with students and scholars from nations the world over.
This presents Christians a unique opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ through deeds and words.
Many give encouragement as to why we should show these precious creations of God the love of Jesus Christ, such as: “They will return to their home country and be able to lead others to faith in Christ” or “Many of them will return and be influential government officials in their countries of origin and be able to open doors for mission efforts.”
Both of these encouragements to show love to international students and other citizens from other countries are grossly utilitarian and fall short of biblical instructions and motives for loving them. We love them, because God loves us and He loves them.
That’s it, that’s all. The way God uses our expressions of love is completely up to Him.
Through our expressions of love, we will discover that many of them are already Christians and struggling with many of the same things as American college students.
Some are homesick and lonely. Some want to know how to live authentic Christian faith while in college in an environment that is challenging at its best and hostile at its worst.
Others want to grow spiritually through discipleship and serve on Baptist Campus Ministries leadership teams. And, yes, some want to know more about Jesus, because they have heard of His love for them for the first time in their lives.
Baptist Campus Ministries at the University of Alabama at Birmingham ministers to international students through three avenues:
- a conversational English ministry that meets on Monday mornings during the school year. Volunteers from local churches meet each Monday morning to teach English to students who are struggling with the language.
- a Chinese Bible Study that meets on Friday evening year-round at the Baptist Student Center and involved more than 250 Chinese students and scholars over the course of past year. Twelve individuals made professions of faith and were baptized last school year.
- an invitation to become a part of any aspect of our ministry that they desire. Some have attended retreats, served on BCM leadership, attended weekly Lifegroup meetings (small group Bible Study), attended worship, participated in mission trips as well as other avenues of ministry.
State Missionary and Campus Minister Craig Hawkins gives direct supervision to the conversational English and the Chinese Bible study. We hope the love shown these students by us and the students involved in our ministry will be used by God in ways we can’t imagine or dream.