BY JOSH SWEET
“Look how much glory God can get”. These are the words that rung in my ears as I listened to Josh Martin talk about global missions during a teaching night at Elevate. This stirred me to go to Elevate International, and I began to experience God and lostness like never before. Coming back that school year I could not escape reaching international students, as I began to get involved in International Village. In International Village, we gathered once a week with international students to enjoy each others company, and discuss who Jesus is and what that means to us. My time became consumed with spending time with these students, and I began to surround myself with them. I began to see how vital reaching these students is for the advancement of God’s kingdom. As you are reading this you may be tempted to believe that this is a special calling, and only some are qualified in reaching the people of the nations; however, this is a misconception and I want to explore that thought.
Jesus is Lord: All Belongs To God
We have to start with a picture of who our God is. We do not have to go very far but to open up to the first verse of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Why is this important? We must see that all belong to God and everything that exists in this moment is a result of God. From every dust particle to every human being. It is marked all over Scripture that God has claim on every person of every nation, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). There is a problem however, all people that belong to God have turned away from Him. There is not one person who does good, and everyone has fallen short of His glory (Ecc. 7:20, Rom. 3:23). The separation from God, and the wrath of God therefore covers all that rightfully belongs to Him. Not only does God’s wrath remain on everyone, but so does His salvation, and that is only through Jesus (Acts 4:12). What I basically did was just explain to you the Gospel, but in light of this we are tempted to forget the global reach and effect of it. It is without a doubt that throughout Scripture God has the nations in mind. If I listed all the Scripture it would fill this page. He has the nations so much in mind that He will not bring the end till it is proclaimed and received among every tribe and nation (Matt. 24:14). Even in the end when everything is fulfilled and restored we see the nations around the throne of God worshiping Him(Rev. 7:9). The possession of all nations are part of the mission of God, this is unmistakable. So why reach international students? Reach them because Jesus is Lord, and all belong to Him.
The Great Need
As you read this, you may agree. You may also say “Okay Josh, I get it. How does this affect me?”. If you are a college student, or living in a college town it affects you in a dramatic way. We have students flocking from other countries to get an American education, because it is valued so highly. It is shown that there are about 1 million international students that come to the United States to study. To raise the stakes even higher, most international students come from the 10/40 window. The 10/40 window is a region between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees latitude. Why this is important is because the countries that are in this window have vast amounts of unreached people groups, are not strongly evangelized, and are dominated by other religions. There is a great darkness in these areas, where some have never even heard the name of Jesus. Let that sink in. This world rightfully belongs to God yet there is no access to His saving Gospel. You want to reach the nations? Look no further, just look around your classroom. You do not have to fly across the world to impact the nations, you just need to walk around your campus. He has given us the explicit command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). God has brought the nations to our campuses, may we not foolishly turn a blind eye to this opportunity.
Global Kingdom Impact From Your Campus
The current reality is that many international students will cycle through college without hearing the saving work of the Gospel. I hope you hear this and it bothers you. I hope it bothers you that there is a gaping space where the Kingdom of God is not reigning. Many students will return to their home country after attending college, and I plea that we would send these students back with the the only hope and greatest treasure of this world, Jesus. I find myself in this situation now, as one of the international students I am discipling is getting ready to return to Japan. He is going to return to a country that is 1% Christian, and I have the honor and privilege to equip him to take the Gospel to this lost and hopeless nation. The cost for many is great, as choosing to follow Jesus will affect how they are viewed by their friends and family. Following Jesus comes at a cost, whether it is being a social outcast or being persecuted by people or their culture. Jesus even said to count the cost before you follow Him (Luke 14:25-33), and to deny yourself to follow Him (Matt 16:24). Jesus promised hardship, but He does not promise hardship with nothing in return. In return for self-denial, and great cost He gifts us with communion with Himself. Though the hardships are great, the prize of Jesus is greater and everlasting. There is no other greater pleasure and joy in this world than to know God (Psalm 16:11), and this is why the fiery trials are worth it, we get intimacy with God through the finished and perfect work of Christ. The beautiful thing about this is that it reminds us that the mission is not about us, but about our great King. The kingdom of God is globally advance if it is won in the hearts of international students. They return home with the Good News, and they may even stay to participate in going on a 21x21 plant to reach more international students. There is not a scarcity of international students, that should not be a worry.
As I moved to with Resonate to Western Oregon University, a tiny college town of less than 10,000 people, I found the need to reach international students to still be great. Walking on the campus of Western Oregon University you can see groups of people from other countries walk to class, and sitting on campus. Though we are the newest church plant, and the smallest college we were able to start an International Village here. I learned nothing is too big for God to do, and the need for reaching international students remains, even in this tiny town. So again, why reach international students? Look how much glory God can get.