USA (MNN) — As the city of Boston has been turned upside down in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, at least one ministry says Christians need to use this situation to motivate them.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship indicates one person killed in Boston had ties to their ministry. National Field Director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Greg Jao says 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, a Chinese National, "was involved with the international student ministry we have at Boston University. She attended a retreat that we sponsored last fall. She was friends with people in the InterVarsity International Student ministry with the graduate and faculty side of our work."
While it's not certain how committed she was to Christ, Jao says Christians need to understand that over 500,000 international students come to the United States each year to attend college. "Most of them represent the promise of that country's future. The State Department has estimated that 25% of all of the world's future leaders are studying in the United States right now."
Jao says most international students are coming to build skills needed to better themselves, but also to have a relationship with an American. He says relationship is how ministry begins. "It's in the mutuality of relationship that you begin to share life together. You begin to share stories together. You have opportunities to share the Gospel together. And, all it takes is a simple invitation: 'Would you come and have a meal with me? Would you have coffee at my home?'"
InterVarsity is intentionally reaching out to these students. "We're planting InterVarsity chapters whose primary focus is serving, befriending, and caring for international students. Our distinctive is that we're actually trying to encourage Christian international students to take the lead so that they develop the skills here so that they can take them back to their home countries."
Jao says, "God has brought the world to us." Students from all over the world are giving their hearts to Christ, even in Muslim nations.
The bottom line: all Christians in the U.S. can do something. "Pray for American college students so that they would continue to reach out and build friendships with international students on college campuses. I would love it if people listening to this broadcast would actually call the university that they're nearest; call the international student's office and say, 'What volunteers do you need?'"
Jao says caring for the needs of an international student provides you a unique opportunity to talk about their lives and about each other's faith.
If you'd like more information or would like to support InterVarsity's International Student Ministry, click here.