International student ministries: The world on your campus
Editor’s note: Once a month throughout 2005 The Pathway will present columns from Southern Baptist missionaries around the world encouraging Missouri Southern Baptists to support the Cooperative Program. This is the third in this continuing series.
By Ed and Angie Moncada
March 10, 2005
I thank God that He sent me from the little country of the Philippines to Missouri to find His love in Jesus. Since my first year at Southeast Missouri State University, my life has never been the same. I found Jesus through the witness of other students at the Baptist Student Union. The following year, I met my wife Angie. We like to joke that Angie has a special love for internationals… she married one. We began reaching out to international students together as newlyweds. Even then, we knew we had a special calling. Today, God has allowed us to minister to international students around our state in various events and ministries.
This year, there are 10,500 international students studying in universities across Missouri. Many come from lands where there is little or no Christian witness. Some have never had an opportunity to hear about Jesus until now. God is giving us opportunities to build friendships with students from many lands, including India and China, the two countries who lead in numbers of students studying here. Although God is very much at work in these two countries, Christians there are so few that many of these students are learning about His love for the first time here in Missouri.
After we graduated from college, Angie and I moved to New Orleans, where I attended seminary. That was where God first gave me a vision for International Student Ministry back in Missouri. That vision has grown from the time we moved back to Missouri, where I served as a Filipino pastor, to today. I know that God wants to reach nations studying here. If American Christian college students get a vision for the work that is on their campus, and if churches get on board, I believe we can fulfill the Great Commission. God has placed a vision in my heart of a Great Awakening here in the heart of America starting from these ministries. If we reach international students with the Gospel, and churches see the Great Commission being fulfilled here, then excitement will ignite the church. It will go out from here to ignite the world, just as Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Our ultimate vision is to see a church planting movement break out here like the ones we hear about happening overseas. The student community needs a church where they can feel they really belong, not as a spectator but as an active participant. Also, students need to be a part of a church where they can learn to grow as disciples and to lead others to grow in discipleship. They need to be a part of a church that they will be able to reproduce in their home country after they return there. We are praying that God will raise up church partners and individuals that will help us with this vision.
To fulfill this vision, we are working with local churches and praying for more to get on board with International Student Ministry. We believe that Church Planting Movements are going to grow through cell groups that committed believers from these churches begin. We want to train believers to train other believers, to train others… so that through this discipleship chain, students will be leading other students to trust and grow in Jesus. Then, they will return to their home countries and repeat the same process there, resulting in more church planting movements in those countries. This will result in a great awakening like the world has never known.
We are praying that God will bring others to be a part of this work. We need people to commit to pray for us regularly. In St. Louis we serve some 200 plus international students with a luncheon at Washington University every Tuesday, provided by local Baptist Churches. We’re planning to begin an International Coffee House this spring to create more opportunities to build closer relationships with internationals. We want to build and expand our Friendship Partner Programs with these students as we seek for families willing to host them while they are studying here. We’re also planning for a large International Conference at the end of the year plus other regional training events for international student ministries. We want to be a resource to our churches and campus ministries interested in these opportunities. We are beginning new Bible studies and discipleship groups with international students, and praying for more workers to help with this. We want to multiply our workers and these programs at campuses and churches around our state. We can see very clearly that “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send our workers into his harvest field.” –Matthew 9:37.