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.

The idea of sending people to a place to minister to those who are not of that place can be a challenge. Some sending organizations have historically focused only on strengthening the Chinese church. Quite apart from recognizing the reality of diaspora mission “from everywhere to everywhere,” could embracing ISM be a strategic way for them to grow the Chinese church’s cross-cultural vision and capacity to fulfill the Great Commission? The reality of diasporas raises healthy questions about the best shape and mode of sending agencies.[i]

Today programs exist to facilitatemission-minded students to go abroad for study in China. Up until now, they have focused on reaching Chinese, not international students, but gradually they are embracing the strategic value of ISM-focused study-abroad students. For example, the Nigerian church is considering sending graduate students who are eager to reach internationals. Since the Christian center has shifted to Africa, Asia, and Latin America, there may be a responsibility for those regions to send ISM workers and mission-minded students to China.

The road ahead

Let the global church together with the people of God in China pray for international students in China. We must repent for lack of vision and action, and now joyfully take up this opportunity.

There may be much gospel fruit from listening to Chinese Christians’ hopes, fears, and needs in the area of reaching international students. Together we need to understand the context better, identify those on whom the Lord has placed a burden for international students, discern opportunities, and develop practical ministry models.

Perhaps God is giving us the compassion Jesus had, placing international students squarely on the agenda of both the local church in China and the global church beyond.

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:38). International students in China are this field, ripe for harvest. Who will love them?

This is the final part of a five part series. Clink on the links for part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

First published on the Mission Nexus website on 29 March 2018.

The views expressed in this blog post are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the GC network.

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash


[i]      Eddie Arthur, “The Future of Mission Agencies” in Mission Round Table, Vol 12.1 Jan-Apr 2017, p4-12. (viewed 18 January 2018).

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Phil Jones

Phil Jones (pseudonym) and his wife have been working amongst international students for over twelve years, both in their home country and for three years in China. They are becoming aware of the opportunities to reach the nations who have come to China.

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