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Moving as God Moves

God is on the move, he is always on the move, his ultimate act of redemption work take place on the cross of Jesus Christ, and the ultimate participant in his redemption work is perfectly described in Revelation 7:9 to 10, “After this I look, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white ropes and were holding palm branches in their hands and they cry out in a loud voice, salivations belong to our god, who sits on a throne, and to the Lamb.” What a great vision.

Hello, and my name is Dr. Kurnia Foe and I’m a former international student. My wife and I are from Indonesia, and we are proud parents of five young men. I came to the U.S. to pursue a doctoral degree in nuclear physics. Then through the next unexpected detour of my study, I end up getting a degree in electrical and computer engineering.

While in grad school, I founded Global Student Friendship, an international student ministry, ISM, with a model of partnership between campus ministry and local churches. The movement of international students, and other diaspora communities, is the movement of God. It is God, as we understand the very core of the people movement, causes people to move for a reason. “From a one man, he made all the nation, that they should inhabit the whole earth and he marked out their appointed time in history (when), and the boundaries of where their lands (where).” In Acts chapter 17, verse 26. This is the kingdom narrative, as God move, so Abraham did, Moses and Israelites did, Joshua did, Naomi and Ruth did, and David did, and the Jewish people in exile did. Jesus himself did and the Apostles did, Paul did, and so the church did. We are thankful that we are a part of the people in God movement. We are part of the kingdom narrative.

To tell my story I wanted to take you where I came from, picture a small island, surrounded by beautiful, clear water, even you can see the fish and other sea creatures. Imagine the warmness of the peoples in island, and the delicious food served before you. That is my island. I’m an islander. It’s called Bangka, located at the tip of Sumatra and Java in Indonesia.

Like our ancestor, many people in my island, including my parents, worship spirits, including spirits of family members who had died. People of my island believe in magic and curses. People thought our family was under a curse, and at time I was very young, I was overwhelmed with shame and guilt. I then began stuttering. As the oldest son in a family and stuttered, I realized I too, brought shame to my family. My parents and elders in the family, brought me to witch doctors, shamans, they brought me to temples, to mosques and other places. Nothing worked. My own parents and sibling, slowly accepted, that I would never get better or heal, and I too agreed with them.

I did not remember how many times I cry out to God in agony and anguish. I did not know God at that time. But, God heard my prayer, and he was on the move, he took me out of the island. I left the island to pursue a better education, near the capital of Indonesia. I later became a believer in college. Overwhelmed with presence of God at the time, I confessed my sin to him, I asked for his forgiveness. I asked him to show me that he was indeed the only true God, not just one among many gods. I also asked him, if he was willing to heal my stuttering, my shame and guilt.

I felt heavy burdens that I had carried for long time were lift up from my life. I knew I was forgiven, and more over, he heal me, God heal me. I was able to speak, well, this is a miracle only God could do. God have chosen me for his works. I learn about true faith, true forgiveness, true reconciliation, salvation, joy, hope and peace.
It is John Stott who says, “We must be global Christian, with a global vision, because our God is a global God.” We live in a globalized world, and we are connecting in ways that 10 years ago, we wouldn’t think possible because of technology. However, there are still cultures that have never been exposed to the gospel. The old and New Testament scriptures or even to Christians.

To understand God movement among international students, I want to briefly discuss three elements in International Student Ministry, especially about the movement of God. First ISM is God’s mission, “Missio Dei.” Second ISM is about the apostolic imagination. Third ISM is about divine collaboration, and I will share some personal stories of international students, that I encounter along the way.

Missio Dei, or God mission is about God active redemptive plan in rescuing sinners, to his son Jesus Christ and restoring their relationship with the Holy God. Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, It is God who initiates to save us, to reconcile us, and to justify us while we were sinners, the enemies of God. The gospel then is good news for all people of every nation, tribe and language. The tragedy is that people who are without Christ still will perish. God is on the move, God through Holy Spirit, makes ISM his agenda to save international in Christ, Jesus.

I want to share with you a story of my friend from Middle East. He dealt with a lot of darkness; he dealt with a lot of difficulties about how to deal with his own sins. He asked, knowing that I was a Christian, that I could pray to God, to remove his sins. It took awhile for me to explain to him, that as Christians, I cannot ask God to remove his sins. And I explained to him the gospel. I presented to him what God really meant. After several days later, we still did not have any conversation, but he texted me at night, very close at night, and it says “I found true peace, I found peace in my life.” This is God mission to show this friend from Middle East, that Jesus Christ is the one that will save him from sins.

Second I want to talk about this apostolic imaginations, in Acts 1:8 it says “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you’ll be my witnesses in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the Earth.” Are you witness of God in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the Earth?

To become a competent witness for God, we need the Holy Spirit, and I suggest we also need a sense of the apostolic imagination. We need to expand our ideas on how to be available and use our hearts and gifting for the apostolic work of God. Many missionary like Don Richardson, points out that “one must study the purpose behind any given custom before drawing conclusions about the potential relation to biblical concepts.” Richardson says, “redemptive antidotes to human bondage are what eternity in their hearts is all about.” International students are part of the people groups from around the world. They need the gospel. They need redemptive power of Holy Spirit.

I want to tell story about Elizabeth from South Asia. A few years ago, she arrives to accompany her husband who was an international student. In our ministry there are a lot of activity we do for international students, at one point we gather student leaders, and we ask three questions. What God has given you, that you recognize as a gift that you are very good at? Second, is what is the need of university that you think the international student needs? And number three we ask, what you can do to meet that need? She says I don’t have any talent, I don’t have any special gift, but I can cut hair. I read it in front of the group, and the group says, can we do something about it? From then on a new ministry started, a hair cut ministry for internationals. What a beautiful idea.
An apostolic imagination, we are allowed to think beyond the boxes of our ideas of ministry, and allow space where God can expand in that ideas, and bringing people, and using whatever gift that we can do for God. There’s no small or too impossible, or foolish ideas of doing what God call us to do.
I want to share about gospel collaboration. I suggest the gospel collaboration in ISM, either local or overseas, can be described in a relay race in track. In track there are four athletes running in different lanes, but they run for the same goal

There are four elements; there are senders, the goer, the mobilizer and the recipient. The sender is the church who support and prays for ISM worker. The goer is the ISM workers who faithfully obey the calling to be sent. The mobilizer, the group of people in the church, the friend the family behind ISM workers are supporting and sound alarm if the ISM worker has a lack of funding or have important issues. And the recipient is the international student who receive the goers and welcome the international ministry work.

To illustrate about the divine collaboration I want to share about how our family end up doing the ISM. As a PhD. In nuclear physics and electrical computer engineering, it will be very difficult like someone like me, to pursue a vocational, or calling into ministry, with my own degree, and we know that, it very clear. That is the immigration 101. So, for something that impossible for someone who was trained in science and engineering to do ministry work, God has done the overcoming the impossible things.

Finally how we respond to God’s word, to this mission work of God. God has not only prepared the gospel for all peoples, but he has prepared all people for the gospel. In Genesis 13 it is written “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, look around from where you are to the North, to the South, to the East, to the West, all the land that you see, I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the Earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted, go and walk through the length, the breadth of the land for I’m giving it to you.”

In verse 18 the same passage it says “so Abram went to live near the great trees of Mam’re at He’bron where he pitched his tents, there he built an altar to the Lord.” Abram obeyed and God blessed him. I believe with all my heart that the church of a believer who love God, obeys his commandment and commission, and blesses the nation will be blessed by God. Church, welcome international into your prayers, into your ministry, into your home, into your church. God always have international in mind.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was one of them. In New Testament, that Jesus Christ came like an alien to the world, from his birth to his death, and also at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was a gift to all peoples, including to foreigners. In Numbers 10:29-32 God invited these foreigners, these Gentiles, the Canaanites, to become aliens among Israelites and to join the blessing of the promise land. In Deuteronomy 31:12-13, God include the aliens to be part of the feast of Tabernacle, only the aliens in the provision of God to the Israelite, but also the focus shifted to their next generations, because they learned the reverence of God. In Joshua 8:30-35 at the Ebal ceremony God invited the aliens to witness God’s plan in granting the promise land to Israelites, in Ruth 2:10, “God put compassion in Boaz heart, as Ruth fell at his feet and thank him warmly, “what have I done to deserve your kindness, she asked, I’m only a foreigner.”

You see, God always have internationals in mind because they too are his people. More than 67% of the world populations is from countries in the 1040 window. But, do you know that more than 60% of international student that come and study in U.S. colleges are from those countries. They still need Jesus.

Last year, a friend, a brother, and dear brother said, “If U.S. churches, don’t go to all the world and make disciples, then God will send them to us, to U.S. churches.” So, God is on the move. When all is said and done, in Matthew 24:14 Jesus says “And this gospel of kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” In his book Heaven Wins, Don Richardson writes, “we are not here to loll and frolic, but to bring unto God, harvests for him, we are not here to stand idle, not to make a name for ourselves, or just feel happy about where we are as a church in the world. We are about engaging with God with his gospel work, here, and everywhere.”

There are still international student in your city, who still don’t have a believer or friend in their life, as God move them here for this particular reason, to know God, and to know his children. Would you be move with the compassion of Christ to welcome them and to befriend them, and to serve them, they are waiting for people like you, are you to busy with your Jerusalem or Judea or Samaria but not with God’s business with the end of the world. Your end of the world is right at where you are. Will you respond?

Moving as God Moves


Kurnia grew up on a small island in Indonesia in a family that worshipped spirits. Eventually, he encountered Christ and came to North America to pursue a PhD in nuclear physics. During his graduate studies, he founded an international student ministry. In this lesson, Kurnia offers a compelling invitation to befriend international students. He challenges us to be global Christians with a global vision because we serve a global God.

Kurnia grew up on a small island in Indonesia in a family that worshipped spirits. Eventually, he encountered Christ and came to North America to pursue a PhD in nuclear physics. During his graduate studies, he founded an international student ministry. In this lesson, Kurnia offers a compelling invitation to befriend international students. He challenges us to be global Christians with a global vision because we serve a global God.