There are great opportunities for international student ministry in the UK, US, Australia and elsewhere and new Christians can apparently make great progress.
However, for East Asians who make a profession of faith away from home, returning can be a difficult time and sadly many stop going to church and fall away when they return home.
Priscilla’s experiences are sadly typical of many and illustrate why OMF focuses on working with Christians who will return to their home country.
Priscilla’s journey of faith in the west reads like a ‘textbook’ case of successful international student ministry. From the start, Priscilla came to almost every seeker’s Bible study and showed considerable interest in Christianity.
Maggie, the Bible study leader, was very kind to her, always looking out for her, especially when she needed practical help. When Maggie asked Priscilla if she would like to accept God in her life, she happily said the prayer of commitment and was baptised soon afterwards.
After her baptism Priscilla kept attending Bible studies and church events regularly, often inviting her friends too. Maggie was so encouraged by these steps of faith. Priscilla always expressed her excitement at finding true love in God, telling Maggie how she was touched by God’s unconditional love and by the love she’d been shown by the church.
Not only that, but Priscilla witnessed to her Chinese friends about how much God loved her: she had made wonderful friendships with church people, God answered her prayers and her life was full of peace and joy.
When Priscilla finished her studies she back to China. After a few months Maggie emailed her to find out how her Christian life was going.
Priscilla told her that she had stopped going to church because she was disappointed by church life. She wrote: ‘nobody in the house group cares for me; people are so cold to each other. Apart from the house group I only know one or two people at church…and the Bible study leader doesn’t allow people to express their opinions freely. Everything is so different from the UK. My life is a mess: busy with my job every day, parents wanting me to get married soon, but I don’t have a boyfriend. It seems God doesn’t love me any more. Didn’t I go to church enough? Or did I do something else wrong?’
Will you pray for East Asia’s Diaspora?
- Pray for Priscilla as she seeks to keep following Jesus in a difficult situation. Pray she would know the assurance of God’s love.
- Pray for wisdom for ministry leaders like Maggie overseas as they work to prepare new Christians for the challenges they will face when they return home.
- Pray for God to help returnee Christians to start thinking about what it will look like to continue in the faith when they return home while they are still overseas and can take time to prepare.