By Dietrich Gruen, with Terrell Smith, Dean Waldenmaier, and Rose Turnley
God loves the world. And the world has come to our capital city and flagship campus, even to our front door. Around 6000 students from more than 120 countries attend the UW-Madison, including 2,855 from Mainland China, more than any other foreign country.
Some 189 of these international students and scholars joined the annual Tour of Madison on August 27, an event organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship the last 66 years.
The world is at our doorstep!—that’s the experience of 20 folks from High Point Church who participated in the Tour this year.
Two of our own, Dean Waldenmaier & Joy Hartl—with Bridges International—also volunteered for the Tour, while seven HPC couples were among dozens who took turns driving, reading scripts, and interpreting sites. Another two couples from HPC had the privilege and joy of hosting international students and scholars in their homes.
The Tour of Madison serves as the big fall kickoff for International student ministry at the UW-Madison. But this is not a one-and done event, but rather the first of several outreach and fellowship opportunities. Another opportunity to demonstrate hospitality is right around the corner: the High Point Church apple picking event for internationals is on Saturday, October 7. We need drivers who will pick up internationals on campus at 12:30 PM and drive them to Sutter’s Ridge Farm, then to Lloyd & Cleo Tindall’s home at 3:30 PM to learn how to make apple pie and enjoy a light dinner. Terrell Smith will briefly present on “Who is Jesus, and Why did he come?” Last year, a woman from China decided to follow Christ as a result of this event!
If you can help drive, please contact Rose Turnley with the number of free seats in your car to take internationals.
These events spill over into Bible studies and friendships that extend throughout the year. A Bible study on campus Tuesdays led by Terrell Smith, Sarah Boswell and other volunteers doubled in size after the Tour. Likewise, nine internationals signed up for a new Thursday evening Bible study and discussion for International Parents of AWANA kids during AWANA.
Other opportunities for hosting Internationals come up almost every month:
- in November, Thanksgiving (at your home?);
- in December, the International Christmas Party (December 9, hosted at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church);
- in January, the “Understanding and Answering Islam” conference (by satellite, January 12, hosted at HPC);
- in March, a St. Patrick’s Day theme event.
I, for one, am looking forward to hosting our Iraqi family of seven at my house for Thanksgiving, also serving as a table host for the Christmas party December 9. Many volunteers from HPC are needed as table hosts on that public occasion. If interested, contact Rose Turnley. Rose also helps coordinate the matching of Internationals seeking friendship with Americans.
The world has indeed come our doorstep!
Our hope and prayer is to see many come to Jesus while studying here in Madison, then return to their home country as an ambassador for Christ.
To help you pray and witness to that end, we close with this (only somewhat sarcastic) prayer offered up by former professor at Wichita State University, Dr. Glen Zumwalt:
LORD JESUS, you’ve told us to take your Gospel to all peoples of all lands. But we find this too hard! We’re required to leave families, friends and familiar culture and go to a strange land to tell your message in a foreign language to an alien people. Most of them already have a religion which is interwoven into their whole culture and lifestyle. Besides, we Christians aren’t welcome in some parts of the world, and are forbidden to teach your message (or even to go) to some lands. And the cost! If we really tried to reach the world in this generation, it’d bankrupt us all.
So we propose an alternative plan: you send the heathen to us! Have them come at their own expense – and learn our language before they come! Make them hungry for our friendship, anxious to come to our homes and willing to go to church with us. Send the young, teachable ones. Send those who are bright and vigorous, who’ll someday be leaders in their home countries. Arrange for them to stay for several years so we can win a hearing for the Gospel and have time to teach them well after they become believers. Especially send many from places where missionaries are forbidden to go, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mainland China. How many, Lord? Oh, some 1.2 million perhaps, well spread around the country so many churches and individual Christians can take part.
Now, if you’ll do this, then we promise to make evangelizing of these people one of our highest priorities. We’ll get to know them, win a hearing through extending friendship and try to learn how to explain your Gospel to them clearly. We’ll work and pray. It might sound like a lot to ask, but you can do it, can’t you?