Meeting Christ on campus: international student ministry
Germany is one of the most popular destinations for international students. More than 300,000 students come from all over the world to study there!
“SIM Germany supports the international student ministry of the local IFES movement with a small team of staff workers working in different German university cities,” explains mission worker Elizabeth*. “We do this by encouraging, training and connecting student volunteers.”
However, while international study can provide fantastic opportunities and an incredible adventure, it’s not an easy thing to do and many international students feel isolated and have difficulties integrating into their new culture.
“These students are smart and ambitious, but need a lot of support to settle down and complete their studies,” adds Elizabeth.
SIM created our Engaging the University ministry to respond to the amazing opportunity among international students from hard-to-reach contexts, who are open to the gospel.
SIM workers use their gifts to reach out in love to cross cultural barriers and make international students feel at home. And as inquisitive students learn a new language and get to know new ideas, this also leads them to consider their values and belief systems.
“We read the Bible with students in the local campus groups; give some orientation in the study system and offer hospitality and friendship,” explains Elizabeth.
“In this, we long to build up strong relationships with local churches to create more stability and continuity. We’d love people to join us in this ministry by their prayers, finances, or by simply inviting an international student into their home.
“You can’t imagine how much of Jesus’ love you can pass on by giving it a try.”
Mehmet’s story: ‘I want to become a Christian’
Last week, I was surprised to get a message from Mehmet*, who recently came to Germany from South East Asia for his studies, writes Elizabeth.
Until some weeks ago, Mehmet had studied online from his home. We got to know him during our online meetings and sometimes, he was the last one to leave, even though for him it was in the middle of the night, due to the time difference.
In his letter, he wrote: ‘I try to become a Christian, or at least understand, what it means, but every time there is misunderstanding …’
Mehmet was frustrated because he hadn't received responses to his prayers – then Jesus answered him even before he arrived in Germany!
The embassy in Mehmet’s country was closed for about a year, so he had no opportunity to apply for a visa. Going back to studying in person would have meant he’d have to cancel his studies. He asked for help and we encouraged him to pray. Two days later, the embassy opened and Mehmet received a visa and came to our city.
This answer to prayer deeply impressed Mehmet, but turning to Jesus looks to him like losing all his cultural and social background, so the team wishes to connect him to a potential friend from church, who can show Christ’s hope to him and encourage and disciple him in his faith.
To find out more about SIM’s Engaging the University ministry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
• For the SIM Germany international student ministry team as it partners with local churches.
• Give thanks for the opportunity Elizabeth and her team members, as well as the volunteers, have to share their life and beliefs with students, who come from countries closed to the gospel.
• Pray for Mehmet and other students facing similar struggles as they mature in their faith.
First published on the SIM UK site.