Immigrants and refugees aren’t the only people coming to America who need to be introduced to Jesus. Another fertile mission field waits at our nation’s colleges and universities, where more than 1,000,000 international students are enrolled this year.
“These students come to learn at our universities, and it’s the perfect time to teach them about something even more important: the Gospel story of their Savior,” said LHF Executive Director Rev. Dr. Matthew Heise.
It’s a mission field The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has committed to by establishing 250 chapters of the LCMS–U (locations of LCMS chapels and ministries on college campuses across the United States). At these Lutheran centers, many international students are first drawn to free English as a Second Language (ESL) lessons.
TALKING ABOUT JESUS FOR THE FIRST TIME
Openings to talk about Jesus come up through those very same conversational lessons. For the first time, students from countries where it’s dangerous or even impossible to learn about the Savior can hear the Gospel.
At the International Friendship Center at the University of Wisconsin – Madison (pictured above), that’s exactly their approach to sharing the Gospel with people from all around the world, especially China. While it’s not technically illegal to be a Christian in China, those who profess their faith in Christ face persecution by their families, friends, coworkers and even (unofficially) the government. But while they study in the United States, they have the opportunity to freely ask questions.
“We use LHF publications like the Chinese Small Catechism and A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories [to teach the ESL classes],” Wayne Weiss, a volunteer at the International Friendship Center, explained. As students reference between their copies of the book in their own language and the English version, they are exposed to Scripture, perhaps for the first time.
Recently, two Chinese-speaking women became believers during the course of Wayne’s classes at the International Friendship Center. Wayne and his wife invited the women to church with them, and now both are interested in being baptized and taking Holy Communion!
For another family from the Friendship Center, one moment of outreach has touched multiple souls.
“There was a woman from Beijing who ended up being baptized here in secret [in order to avoid persecution],” shared Wayne. “She had a ten-year-old son with her, so I’d given him one of the Bible story books from LHF, which he devoured in one evening – he loved it!
“Then her sister came to visit from China a few weeks later. She saw the book and wouldn’t give it back to the boy because she enjoyed it so much! She had never been exposed to Christianity before. These materials just keep blessing others over and over and over.”
Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.