InterVarsity’s International Student Ministry seeks to
meet and serve internationals by connecting them to campus life and a welcoming community,
introduce internationals to Christianity in a respectful and loving way through genuine friendship, and
encourage Christian internationals to grow in their spiritual life and to follow God in their home country or across the world
Over 1,000,000 international students and scholars come to the US each year to study – many from countries and places closed off from the Gospel. ISM provides a clear witness to these students of the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Witnessing communities offer a safe environment where questions can be asked by Christians and non-Christians alike. ISM also gives training for spiritual growth and teaching to help new Christians grow in intimacy and understanding with God. ISM has a strong foundation in scriptural study and works to provide settings where students can study the Bible and see living examples of God’s Word in everyday life.
We build communities through:
International students and Americans both give and receive in friendship, and we enrich each other’s lives with knowledge of different countries and backgrounds. We can gain mutual understanding and respect by listening and learning from one another. International students can challenge Americans to reexamine their cultural values or our priorities. American students can offer friendship and a strong footing as internationals experience culture shock or loneliness.
Our vision is to see international students come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that they might be built up in faith to serve him joyfully during their college years, and when they return they will reach their home countries and the world with the Gospel. Through leadership development here and friendships with local Christians, international students can find help developing a strategy to reach their home for Christ. They can be used by God to make disciples of all nations as His ambassadors to the world.
Thousands of international students are exposed to the Gospel for the first time each year. Hundreds of international students are building solid foundations in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Returning students are taking their experiences to their home countries and impacting their churches, workplace, missions, and governments. See some quick facts about International Students here (Open Doors).
"The International Student Ministries of InterVarsity are a beautiful expression of the Biblical command to love the stranger in our midst. Students, InterVarsity staff and host families partner together in building trans-cultural friendships which bring an understanding of the world. Students far from their homes and families hear of the unique character of Jesus Christ in an atmosphere of warm, personal concern and helpful service."
Steve Hayner, former president of InterVarsity
International student ministry may feel like a subcategory of the “real mission” on campus. After all, aren’t most international students usually quiet, attentive to their studies, and respectful of others? Isn’t our time better spent reaching the lost atheist drowning his inadequacies in alcohol every weekend?
Our calling is to reach every nation and people with the good news of Jesus Christ. The beautiful thing about international students is that the nations and people come to us! Some countries forbid Christians from preaching within their borders, but their young adults come to the United States and are able to hear the gospel without obstruction.
Many international students come to the US with a hunger for deep friendships, but many times they leave without that hunger satisfied. Just think how their lives will be changed if they are met at the airport or bus terminal by a welcoming smile and “I’m so glad to meet you!” Think how their future relationship with Americans will change if they’ve spent years building friendships and learning the culture!
International student ministry is not a special compartment; rather, it encompasses everything ministry is about.
International students are also often hungry for the gospel, even if they don’t realize it. When they are introduced to concepts of grace and sin and are presented with the reality of Jesus, they are awakened to a passionate faith. Adding new members to the family of faith encourages current believers, and the introduction of international believers brings the richness of multiculturalism to the body of Christ. Trying to decide how best to present the gospel to those who know nothing about it also causes believers to revisit what the core of Christianity is compared to the extras placed by man.
International student ministry is not a special compartment; rather, it encompasses everything ministry is about. Furthermore, who better to change the world for God than people from every country? Which will have a more lasting impact – spending a month working at a disaster area after a tsunami or introducing the next president of that country to Jesus? When international students return home, they set off the first ripples in their country to create lasting change.