International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 5

Church outside of China

Finally, how can the global church outside of China be part of this ISM vision in China? First and foremost, brothers and sisters could commit to praying for this.

Experienced ISM workers could be sent to China to support international churches or to come alongside local Chinese fellowships and campus ministries. Networking could be established between healthy national ISMs, pioneering ISMs outside of China, international churches within China, global sending organizations, and the nascent Chinese ISM movement.

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 4

Diaspora missiology

In the last fifteen years, there has been significant development in diaspora missiology, which offers a biblical rationale and strategy for ISM, and gives us a framework for missions to, through, and beyond the diaspora.[i] Leiton Chinn writes compellingly about the biblical basis and strategic value of ISM as part of diaspora missions.[ii] Elsewhere he describes his own journey and that of some churches in the USA from not seeing or caring about international students to now noticing and actively reaching out to them.[iii] With the same zeal, he points to ISM in Asia as “a most strategic yet least expensive global mission opportunity.”[iv] Is this a journey on which the church in China has now embarked?

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 3

Leadership and ministry potential

A surprising number of Christian students come to China with church leadership experience. While some are confused or lukewarm in faith, others are eager to be equipped for ministry and are incredibly responsive to capable, intentional and loving ministry training. A Pakistani Christian student wrote, “Just need more prayers so I could work more for Christ and become a source of light for others.” Is this an opportunity to strengthen churches and train people for ministry?

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 2

Destinations in China

Though Beijing (17%) and Shanghai (14%) attracted the lion’s share of international students in 2016, there was a notable spread throughout the country.[i]

Reasons for coming

Due to a combination of diverse factors, China will continue to grow as a destination for international students. It has some of the world’s top universities,[ii] boasts a great diversity of institutions and programs, and is much cheaper than western destinations.[iii] Well over 800 colleges and universities in China accept international students,[iv] with many offering accessible undergraduate and postgraduate courses entirely in English.

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International Students in China: Who will reach this vast and strategic yet invisible group? – Part 1

 Wearing her hijab, “Mounia” from Yemen heard the gospel and felt the love of God in our international church because of her Rwandan classmate’s invitation and her husband’s permission. Without Arabic or visa for Yemen, instead of flying to Sana’a, we walked two meters to welcome her. From a country with 0.03% evangelicals, could she take the gospel back home?[i]

“Lazaro” from Tanzania said with resolve, “While in China, I want to fill my life with the Word of God.” He’s an active member of our fellowship, here with his wife and two little daughters, struggling with racism towards Africans, yet hungry to grow and return home equipped as a disciple of Christ. Could he strengthen the church in Tanzania?

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ISM in Reverse in China?

Things are going backwards? Not at all! More and more international students are flocking to China – 489,200 in 2017.[1] (Contrast the decline in the US[2] and the UK.[3])

So what is “ISM in reverse?”

We know of “ministry to international students.” But what if international students themselves were the ones sharing with their fellow students, many from unreached cultures? This is “ISM in reverse” – international students doing this ministry to reach the nations.

Meet “Sam,” an American international student in China. He’s doing a two-year master’s in international business under a full Chinese government scholarship at a top-ranked university.

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International Students in China–The Road Ahead? – Part 3

We’ve explored the great need and strategic opportunity of international student ministry (ISM) in China in my previous posts.[1] But who will reach, disciple, and equip them with the gospel of Jesus Christ? What is the road ahead?

We know that God is calling people from every nation (Psalm 96) and that the nations have come to China! This motivated the pioneers of ISM.[2] What can we learn from them about why and how ISM movements started?

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International Students in China—an Opportunity? – Part 2

My Pakistani friend asked, “May I visit your church?” I welcomed him along. He listened to a Bible talk in English, read the Urdu text on my iPhone, and asked me questions in Chinese.

In my first article I described the numbers and diversity of the international students in China.[1] Here I’ll outline some of the challenges and opportunities of ministering to them, some unique to this context.

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International Students in China—an Unreached Diaspora? – Part 1

“Jyrgal” from Kyrgyzstan and I sat on our couch talking about why he was studying in China, the beauty of the Kyrgyz mountains—and the claims of Jesus. I could do this with no Kyrgyz visa, no extra language, and no flight to Bishkek—he came to me.

My friend “Lalit” from Indian Kashmir and I are reading a gospel together. “Tesfay” matured in his faith while in China and returned to a persecuted church in Eritrea. Portuguese-speaking students from Mozambique, Angola, and Brazil meet together to study the Bible. These are some of the almost half a million international students in China, arriving from every corner of the globe.

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