Loving and Serving International Students
Written by Danny Castiglione
There are 1.8 million international students in North America and 5 million worldwide. Additionally, there are millions more immigrants and temporary residents living in the United States who are linked to universities, hospitals, and global companies. Closer to home, every year thousands of international students and temporary residents from all over the world come to the Triangle. Since our founding Waypoint Church has always been involved in loving and caring for international guests. We partner directly with campus ministries that serve and reach international students at Duke and UNC.
I personally have the privilege of serving part-time as a campus minster to international students at Duke. Praise God that in an average semester, our campus ministry collation of International Student Ministry (ISM) workers can love and serve over 400 students through our various programs and outreaches. Yet, there are only 7 of us serving at Duke (all but one of us are part-time) and there are over 5,000 international students connected to Duke. So how can we do it? How can we meet, love, and serve all these students? How can we plant seeds of the gospel?
The reason we can reach many more students is because of the army of local volunteers that serve with us. Volunteers from dozens of churches in the area, including many from Waypoint, are part of this effort. Some examples of this are:
-Over 20 Waypoint households have hosted international students for a monthly dinner through the Supper Club program
-This past Christmas Eve, 22 international students came to Waypoint’s Christmas Eve worship service and a dinner at our home afterward. Of the 22 students, it was the first time to visit a church for 17 of them.
-We have hosted over 200 students at Waypoint during our international Thanksgiving dinners (with Waypoint volunteers helping with food prep and clean up, and many others as table hosts)
Here are some ways you can volunteer:
-Host 3-5 international students for a monthly dinner during the semester through the Supper Club program
-Be an English Conversation Partner, this program runs from January through April
-Be available to drive a Duke, NCCU, or UNC student to Sunday morning worship
-Sign up for the ISM Realm group, so you hear about all the campus ISM volunteer opportunities, and volunteer when you are able
Prayer Requests for ISM for the 2022-2023 School Year
-Our staff is limited, so pray for wisdom on where to spend our time and energy
-Pray that Christian international students would find us as they arrive on campus so we can connect them with a local church and other spiritual resources
-Pray for these Christian students, that they would not lose heart as they become overwhelmed with schoolwork and life in a new culture
-Pray that seeds of the gospel will be planted
If you have any questions or want to sign up to volunteer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org