Paul & Liz Godwin
International Students Inc.
My area of expertise is more in the area of Evangelism and Returnee Follow-up. I (Liz) do best at building networks and frameworks for ministry. When international students first arrive to the US, we start thinking about discipling them the first day we meet. Get them involved with doing something: greeting, inviting, leading games, leading music, etc. Start building commonality with them. Find out what area they come from in their country. Get their contact information and connect with them on Facebook. Introduce them to someone in our ministry that speaks their language. We have one small group just for Japanese students, led by a Japanese pastor. He doesn’t always do things our way, but he communicates the gospel in a culturally appropriate way for Japanese. He doesn’t think Japanese will share in a Bible study because in Japan the students are talked to. They don’t discuss. I found if they have a high level of English, they will participate in the small group discussion.
When the international students are about to return home, we ask them if they’d like to meet our friends in Japan. Do they want to know about a church in their area? Would they like to meet other returnees in their area? Do they want to keep their English practice up? What are their felt needs that I can use to connect them to a Christian in Japan? When they go back, we try to introduce them to 2-3 contacts in their area. Americans make the mistake of giving a student a church name in their area and expect the student to follow through. Culturally that does not work well, unless they are very motivated. Here is why:
– It’s difficult to walk into an already formed group in Japan.
– It’s difficult to walk into a church in Japan because doing that is weird to them.
– They need an invitation from someone in the group.
– They need an introduction to someone in the group who then invites them to join.
When a student is about to return home, I put them into a Facebook returnee group in their location. This way we can keep track of who is in what area so that when a mission trip is planned, we can invite them to a returnee party. At the returnee party, I try to create a Narnia experience of memories in the US. I have someone give a testimony and we invite missionaries to the party to meet the students and offer programs they might be interested in (such as Alpha or English conversation or Bible study). This again connects them to Christians in Japan and often reignites their interest in Christianity.
These Facebook groups can also be used to let students know when activities are happening in their area, like a gospel concert or a hike or Returnee conference.
I would also add that the more Christians they are connected with and the more frequent the connections, the greater the chance they will come to faith!
Until all have heard,
Paul & Liz
Musashino Chapel Returnee party
Crossroads Nishinomiya Church
Hawaiian theme Kyobashi Returnee Party
Musashino Chapel Returee Party
Dan Ellrick home hosting Mexian Fiesta Returnee Party