Moncada maintains zeal for internationals
ST. LOUIS – There are approximately 10,500 international students in Missouri’s colleges and universities and if Ed Moncada has anything to say about it, those 10,500 will not only return home bearing an education, but a witness to their people and beyond.
Moncada coordinates the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) ministry to international students in the state. Although the Convention’s collegiate ministry has been in a time of transition, he says things are beginning to take root, especially among the students representing 40-50 nations he works with each week. He is the only full-time missionary in any state convention devoted to ministering to international students and if the Lord blesses on Missouri campuses, the things Moncada is learning and developing could go nationwide.
“People are watching us to see if this is going to work, including the North American Mission Board and LifeWay,” he said.
One of the ways Moncada said Christians can minister to these students is simply to invite them into their homes. “Friendship partners” (host families) who house an international student are a large cog in Moncada’s grassroots strategy.
“Sixty to 70 percent of internationals never set foot in an American home while they are here,” he said. “They want to be there, to learn the language and culture and to be around an American family and to experience Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s an easy way to build bridges of friendship, connect culture to culture and let the love of Jesus shine.”
Beyond that, he is praying for Christian international students to answer the call to God’s service.
“We are seeing them rise up and take an interest in vocational ministry,” Moncada said. “We haven’t seen that before. Now we’re hearing about them looking in ministries, seminaries, leading Bible studies and starting prayer teams.”
The goal is to equip new Christian leaders with the Gospel so they can make an impact in their home country.
“Once they graduate here, many of them go back home to jobs of great influence and importance,” he said. “We want to help them make an influence for the Lord. I envision them as church planters and disciple-makers in their countries, making a big impact on their cities, cultures and families as they spread the Gospel. The ultimate vision is that they will become senders to where they found the Gospel in the first place.”
It was that vision of international students returning to the United States to finish the job of evangelism that caused Moncada, a Filipino student who was saved at Southeast Missouri State University, to continue his studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and return to Missouri to win souls. For him, it’s all about seeing his 20-year passion come full-circle.
“Some day, I want to see the Japanese and Chinese sending missionaries back here to help us,” he said. “I believe I will be a part of an awakening in the heartland.”
The process keeps on going even if the student returns home without accepting Christ.
“It doesn’t stop in Missouri,” Moncada said. “If they’re not saved here, I follow up all the way back until we see them come to know the Lord. If a Japanese student goes home, we’ll follow up with a Japanese Christian and help him find a Bible study in Tokyo.”