by DAVID AND THERESA WIGGINS — There are more than 750,000 international students in the U.S, typically representing the top one percent of their nation’s commercial, educational, and political elite. Most of them are sent to American universities to be primed for leadership in their home countries. “Home” for sixty percent of these temporary visitors is a restricted-access nation with significant-to-severe limitations on sharing the Gospel. We have no greater opportunity to make disciples of all nations than the opportunity that has been placed right in front of us.
In July 2011, after six months of prayer with a small core team, we launched International Ministry & Interest Xchange (i-mix) in North Carolina’s Research Triangle as a division of Every Nation Campus Ministry (ENCM). Our mission is to penetrate the international student community with the Gospel and to make disciples of these future leaders and potential missionaries. We do this by mobilizing local churches and campus groups to show hospitality, model a Christ-like community, and build relational bridges for the Gospel.
__Home for sixty percent of these temporary visitors is a restricted-access nation with significant-to-severe limitations on sharing the Gospel.”
i-mix International Welcome Parties
At the beginning of each semester, we sponsor a big i-mix party for Americans and internationals. That event facilitates the beginning of many genuine friendships and invitations to American homes. Eventually, it leads to Bible-discussion parties in homes throughout Raleigh, Durham, and the Chapel Hill area.
Transitions for Internationals
International students arriving in the United States often experience difficult and lonely transitions. In addition to being separated from their families (many for the first time), they also have many more needs than the average college student — i.e., acquiring furniture, grocery shopping, cross-cultural communications, and dealing with a lack of mass transportation in the U.S. There are so many opportunities for i-mix volunteers to serve international students — local and regional tours, English conversation practices, and visits to museum and the zoo are a just few practical examples.
__One of their most commonly expressed desires is for an American friend. Yet, only one in fifteen international students ever steps into an American home.”
Apart from these significant needs, one of their most commonly expressed desires is for an American friend. Yet, only one in fifteen international students ever steps into an American home where they can see the Gospel lived out by Christian families. Since the founding of ii-mixin 2011, an estimated 200 Christian families, students, and even grandparents have initiated several touch points with over 250 internationals. Last month, the i-mix team enabled about one hundred internationals to enjoy Thanksgiving dinners among twenty-four Christian families from King’s Park Church, the Every Nation church in Durham, NC.
i-mix Life Group Bible Studies
Regular i-mix Life Group Bible studies in Christian homes have multiplied from two to seven.
— Four internationals from Mainland China wanting to learn more about Christianity attend John Gray’s weekly i-mix Life Group where they are going through the Gospel of John.
— One of our i-mix leaders, Yer Moua, is a mother of three with a passionate evangelistic gift. Her bimonthly group includes a scrumptious meal, followed by English conversation and Bible Study. She has, one at a time, gently led more than half of her international friends to the Lord.
— Julia graduated from China’s renowned Peking University and came to the U.S. and eventually worked on her Masters in Economics at Duke University. A year of international culture shock, isolation, and series of traumatic experiences left her struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. When Julia showed up at a Bible study, she decided to pray to receive Christ.
Two years later and completely healed, Julia now spends her after work hours serving internationals as an i-mix leader at Duke with Pastor Reggie Roberson’s team. She has come to play major role in the lives of ten Chinese and American friends who committed themselves to Christ. Julia’s desire for the future is to go back to her beloved China to share the Gospel.
Missional Impact Through i-mix
__Local church members are modeling how working professionals can live out missional lives through their work with i-mix.” (Tweet this)
While our i-mix Every Nation campus ministers like Dave Stremic, Michael & Grace Wilson, and Cindy Simpson have been fruitful in reaching internationals and leading the way, local church members are also modeling how working professionals can live out missional lives through their work with i-mix.” Ron Lewis, Pastor of King’s Park Church, says,
i-mix mobilizes people in the local church who may never see themselves as an ambassador or an evangelist. By showing hospitality, they open the front door to multiple opportunities to share Jesus and His kingdom. Because of the front door of love and hospitality, the Gospel is almost always received with an open heart. Our experience has been that a significant percentage of internationals we reach out to, end up meeting Jesus Christ.”
Jason McDaniel, Campus Director of University of North Carolina, comments on the i-mix strategy,
i-mix has provided the structure we need to start moving forward with our vision to reach internationals. For any vision to succeed, you have to say it and systematize it. We’ve been saying that we want to reach internationals for a long time, but i-mix has helped us systematize how to do that much more effectively than what was previously done.”
The mission for reaching campuses locally as a strategy for advancing the Kingdom globally is not new to King’s Park Church, evidenced by the numerous churches being planted by graduates sent out by King’s Park. Again, Pastor Ron Lewis, comments on the value of local church involvement with international student ministry:
i-mix is on the front lines of a church family showing genuine Christian hospitality to some of the most valuable and simultaneously overlooked people in the community. Overlooked, because they are students who are thousands of miles away from home, unknown, isolated, and living in a strange culture. Valuable, because these students are also the very image of God and they represent the future leadership of nations that God fully intends to reach. Most often missionaries in places of greatstrategy, working with students who will one day provide significant leadership for their nation – all kinds of leadership – education, political, medicine, finance, science…”
David and Theresa Wiggins are the directors of i-mix, a ministry of Every Nation Campus Ministries located in Raleigh, NC.
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