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EveryInternational provides FREE video training to help you befriend and share your faith with international students and immigrants.

I have had the privilege of working among international students and scholars for the past 38 year years. My wife, Janet became a Christian while an international student in Bolivia South America. We met in High School and after College, we were married. We sought God’s will for our lives together and attended a missions conference in Urbana Illinois. There we got a vision for working cross-culturally which lead us to begin working with international students. It has been a wonderful adventure and I am glad to have the opportunity today to share some of the blessings with you.

Did you know that over 42% of the world’s population lives in unreached people groups? An unreached people group is a distinct ethnic-cultural group that has less than 2% Christians and no reproducing churches. People who live in such cultures have little access to hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ. They often have no Bible. There is no visible church. And most importantly, there are no Christians living close enough to them that can share the Good News of the Gospel. This means there are a huge number of people – over 3.15 billion people – living in over 7,000 such groups in the world. The Great Commission tells us that we are to make disciples of all the nations, meaning every one of these ethnic groups. It is God’s plan to use us as Christians to see the fulfillment of Jesus Commission. God will be most glorified when people from ethnic group worship. Him. We are given a beautiful picture in the book of Revelation of people from every language and ethnic group worshipping the Lord.

Part of the reason so many unreached people groups exists is because there are huge cultural, linguistics, and sociological barriers for the Gospel to be preached. For example there are strong family pressures against someone breaking from long established culture traditions that tie the practice of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to one’s identity. This is in addition to the fact that most people groups that are unreached do not allow missionaries and are often very restrictive.

But God, in His mercy, has made a way for us as Christians to have an impact among the unreached of this world because God is sending the nations to us in the form of international students.

Just last week I met to study the Bible with 2 international students who came to study in the USA from unreached people groups. My friend, Mohit comes from Rajasthan in Northern India. His particular people group are called the Khati. There are 1.6 million Khatis and the percentage of Christians is 0.00%. Mohit is open to learning about Jesus Christ and he asks great questions. When he learned I had been a Christian for over 40 years he asked if I could share all the changes that Jesus Christ had made in my life and break them down into 5-year periods! I was not able to be that specific but I was able to share with 25 things in my life that had changed as a result of my relationship with Christ!

My other friend, Lama, comes from the Yi people group, which is one of the 55 minority groups in China. They are located in Southwest China. Of this people group, .05 percentage are Christians. What a joy it is for me to spend time with Lama, build a friendship with him, and share the word of God with him.

This method of sending people from areas where God’s people do not exist to areas where God already has a people is a Biblical pattern He’s used throughout history.

In the New Testament, God has recorded stories of internationals for our benefit.
Acts 2 describes people from many nations coming to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost so they could hear the Gospel. Some who came to Christ on that day later helped plant churches in Antioch and Rome and other places.

Acts 8 reveals the story of an Ethiopian man who traveled to Jerusalem and become a follower of Christ on the desert road home. He helped plant the first church in Africa, through which the Gospel began to spread throughout the continent.

Acts 9 tells us about the apostle Paul, who left his home in Tarsus, as an international student, and became a Christian on the Damascus road. He was then was used by God to initiate a church planting movement throughout the world. Think about it. Arguably the greatest missionary of all time was a former international student.

Acts 10 describes how Cornelius, a Roman soldier, stationed away from his home became a Christian and opened a new frontier for the Gospel.

Acts 16 tells the story of Lydia from Asia, who was reached away from her home while she was living in Philippi. Her home became the first church in that city through which the gospel began to spread.

These are all stories of exponential impact. The gospel went out in powerful ways because internationals were touched away from their homes. The gospel went into new areas and reached new groups of people because internationals meet Jesus while away from home.
Interesting, the people in these stories represent the different reasons why internationals leave their homes.

The people on the day of Pentecost left to visit Jerusalem for a short time because of the festival. These temporary visitors represent the tourists of our day. I just came back from visiting Niagara Falls. There were more visitors from other countries than there were from Canada and the USA! This year over 1.25 billion tourists will be traveling to other places.

The Ethiopian eunuch was the treasurer of his country. He represents all the government officials and diplomats who are away from home. I once made a man on campus from Nepal. I asked him what he did. He told me he was an advisor to the King of Nepal. Another student was the son-in law of the Prime Minister of his country. In our midst are those representing their governments.

Saul who became Paul, originally left his home in Tarsus for the purpose of studying under the famous Jewish teacher Gamaliel in Jerusalem. This means that Paul was an international student! Today there are over 5 million international students in the world today of which 1.8 million are studying in North America.

Cornelius was a Roman solider stationed away from his home in Rome. His outpost was in Caesarea. There are many countries that send people to the USA for military training. Where I live in Ohio there an Air Force Base where pilots from many countries come for training.
Lydia was a businesswoman who was in the clothing business. Many business people are traveling in the world today. In fact, over 450 million people will travel away from their homes for the purpose of business this year.

Aquila and Priscilla, who became coworkers with Paul in the work of the gospel, had to leave Rome because of the persecution there. They represent the immigrants and refugees of this world. Currently there are 65 million refugees and 258 million immigrants scattered among the nations.

God in his wisdom, decided to include the specific stories of the different kinds of internationals in his book so that we as His people could see his heart for the stranger and His plan to work through them to accomplish his purposes.

How did the people in these stories come to Jesus? God sent Philip to the Ethiopian, Ananias to Paul, Peter to Cornelius, and Paul to Lydia. He sent the internationals in these stories close to Christians but then he called the Christians to take the initiative to go to them. You are watching this video because God has sent internationals close to you.

Philip had to leave a successful ministry he was having to go out on a desert road to meet an international who was seeking God. Ananias was reluctant to go to Paul because of the things he had heard about him. He had fears he had to overcome. Peter was also not interested in going to Cornelius’ house because of certain cultural prejudices that he had. God had to give him a special vision to help him to understand that God is the God of all nations. Paul had what seemed like a chance meeting of Lydia when she was at the river but Paul recognized the divine appointment that God has set up.

But this means of God working through internationals is not just found in the book of Acts. The history of spread of the gospel is full of stories of internationals that God used in powerful ways.

In fact, the first country to declare itself as a Christian nation was Armenia in 301 AD. God used a man named Gregory to powerfully impact Armenia. Gregory fled his country of Armenia due to political problems, where he was educated and brought up as a devout Christian in Turkey. Gregory returned to Armenia to begin to preach the Gospel. Gregory was imprisoned for 12 years.

During the time of his imprisonment, Gregory was known as a man of prayer. When the king became mentally ill and was unable to be helped by any of the doctors or practitioners of other religions, they called for Gregory to come and pray for him. The king’s sanity was restored and then the king ordered that all the people should listen to the message that Gregory was sharing. As a result of the conversion of the king, along with the members of the royal court and upper class, the king ordered that Gregory be given to full rights to carry out the conversion of the entire nation to the Christian faith. In the year 301 AD, Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion.

Today, the gospel is still going out in powerful ways through international students who are being reached away from home. They are having an exponential impact.

The greatest evangelist in Chinese history, John Sung, studied at Ohio Wesleyan University and the Ohio State University. He returned to China aflame for God. In his short time of ministry over 100,000 Chinese people came to Christ. At the time of his death, 10% of all the Christians in China had been won to Christ through his ministry.

Bakht Singh from India came to know Christ as an international student in Canada despite the warning of his Sikh family not to become a Christian when he went abroad to study. When he returned to India, God used him to launch the most successful church planting movement in India through which over 10,000 churches were planted.

Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, a former international student who came to Christ in Australia founded the Hope of Bangkok Church, the largest church in Thailand with over 40,000 members. His influence has resulted in the planting of numerous churches (over 100) in Thailand and has had a tremendous impact on the entire Christian movement in Thailand.

Toshi Mabuchi came from Japan, the 2nd largest unreached people group in the world, to study in Ohio for a Master’s degree in linguistics. Growing up in Japan, he had never met a Christian, seen a church, read a Bible, or had any other exposure to the Gospel. At Easter, he received an invitation to see the Jesus film in Japanese. He was curious and went. He desired to learn more about Jesus and joined my Bible study group. Slowly he came to saving faith.

As he grew as a follower of Jesus, he became burdened for his own people and began to prepare himself to return home. He was discipled and, after his graduation, he returned to Japan with a plan.

Rather than take a higher paying teaching position, he offered English tutoring at a low rate. As he met 1-1 with people, in addition to teaching them English, he shared the Gospel with them. As he led people to Christ, he formed them into small house churches. He trained leaders and helped them to become self-sufficient so he could move on and start over again.
After 20 years of doing this, Toshi was able to plant 70 house churches! “Now that’s exponential impact.”

Abdul came to study in the United States from the country of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is 99.9% Muslim. There are no open churches there and it is illegal for a Muslim to become a Christian. Over the course of history, there have been a handful of Afghans who have come to Christ, but many of them were martyred for their faith. It was in this situation that Abdul lived and was raised. Abdul was a well-respected translator in his country. In fact, he had risen to the ranks where he was chosen as the translator when foreign dignitaries would come to visit the government in Afghanistan.

But Abdul had the desire for more education and so he came to pursue his Ph.D. in the United States. Like many international students, Abdul left his wife and children at home with the hopes that one day they’d be able to join him. In the United States, no one knew the significant position that Abdul had had in his country. He was just another foreigner on the campus. He found it very difficult to make American friends and so he was lonely and spent his evenings cooking a simple meal and watching television. When Abdul found that there was an opportunity to visit an American home for a meal, he eagerly signed up for this opportunity.

The family who would host Abdul told him, “We’d like to have you over for lunch on Sunday, but we go to church in the morning. Would you be willing to join us for church and then come home for lunch?” Because of Abdul’s background as a Muslim, he really did not want to attend the church service, but he really wanted to go to their home for lunch. So after debating for a while, he decided that he could bear going to church for the opportunity to go for lunch.

When he finally went to their home for lunch, they spent the whole afternoon together. He shared about his hometown and about his family and about life in Afghanistan. The family shared their family photos and shared more about their lives. Abdul later told me that it was his best day that he ever had since he came to the United States and when the family asked him if he would like to do it again next week, he said, “I’ll go to church every week if it means I get to come to your home afterwards.” So that became Abdul’s practice. Every Sunday he would go to church and he would spend the afternoon with this family.

Gradually, Abdul began to listen to the messages in church. He also joined a Bible discussion group that I was hosting for internationals. Abdul was attracted to the message he heard and Abdul made the momentous decision to follow Jesus Christ, even though he had never met an Afghan Christian in his life. After becoming a Christian, Abdul wanted to read the Bible in his own language – the Dari language. But the translation of the Bible into Dari, he said, was very rough since it had been done by a person who was not a native Dari-speaking person.

Abdul made it his goal to retranslate the New Testament into Dari, which he successfully did. In addition, he began to work with the Far East Broadcasting Company to make messages that could be broadcast into Afghanistan to share the Good News of the Gospel. Abdul, through his translation and radio broadcasts, has had a tremendous influence on the people of Afghanistan. This is an exponential impact.

“Now that’s exponential impact.”

A former student from China who came to Christ in the USA wrote a book, The Song of a Wanderer, that has been used by the Lord to win many Chinese intellectuals to Christ. Over 1 million copies of his book have been distributed and it is estimated that over 100,000 Chinese have come to Christ through the book. “Now that’s exponential impact.”

Another former international student returned to his Muslim people group in North Africa to share the Gospel and to serve refugees. Three churches have been planted and a school begun for over 100 children. “Now that’s exponential impact.”

A Chinese student won to Christ in Athens, Ohio successfully translated a new updated contemporary version of the New Testament in Chinese that is being read by thousands and has almost completed the Old Testament. “Now that’s exponential impact.”

A student from Bangladesh came to study in the USA as a devoted Muslim. After reading the Bible in his language, he came to know Christ. Despite the rejection of his family and the loss of funding for his education, he persevered and God provided for His needs. After studying business, he developed a plan where rural villages in Bangladesh could be helped through microloans. He returned and began to serve His people. He helped provide education, health care, and business opportunities. He also established house churches in those villages. Since his return, over 66,000 Muslims have come to faith in Jesus and over 2,000 churches have been planted. “Now that’s exponential impact.”

Each of these stories involved Christians in this country being involved in the process of these internationals coming to know Jesus. This is what is so exciting – you may have a part in a future story of global impact as you are becoming personally involved in ministry among international students.

Why are internationals able to have such a dramatic impact among peoples that have been highly resistant to the gospel?

1st Internationals will occupy positions of leadership giving them a sphere of influence where the gospel can spread. Internationals will become Heads of State, Professors, Business people, researchers, engineers, and numerous other positions of leadership. Over 40 current heads of state were at one-time international students. This is strategic!

2nd Internationals already know the language and culture so they can immediately begin their ministry upon returning. There are no years of language and culture study. They do not need a visa to return. They do not have to leave in the event of political turmoil. They are not seen as foreigners.

And Internationals have a natural, built-in web of relationships with their families and friends making it easier for them to share the gospel. This is effective.

3rd Internationals are usually self-supporting and therefore do not need to raise funds to do their ministries. It costs over $100,000/ year for a family from the United States to serve in Japan. International students, such as Toshi, who I mentioned earlier, are entirely self-supporting. This is cost efficient.

International student ministry is Biblical, strategic, effective, and cost efficient.

God is on the move through people who are on the move. We live in the age of the great scatterings of people. Never before in the history of the world have people moved in the numbers that they are moving today. God is bringing the nations to us! And each one of us can be a part of God’s plan to bless the nations and to see a multiplying church in every people group in the world. I am glad that you are open to be one of those God will use. May you experience the joy or your life being used by God to impact the nations.

Engaging the Unengaged


Incredibly, 42% of people in the world live in unreached people groups — cultures with little access to the Good News of Christ. But God has made a way for us as Christians in North America to have an impact among the unreached, by sending the nations to us. International students today will be leaders among the nations tomorrow. Rich wants you to know the joy of your life being used by God to reach these future leaders.

Incredibly, 42% of people in the world live in unreached people groups — cultures with little access to the Good News of Christ. But God has made a way for us as Christians in North America to have an impact among the unreached, by sending the nations to us. International students today will be leaders among the nations tomorrow. Rich wants you to know the joy of your life being used by God to reach these future leaders.