Today marked the fourth quarterly board meeting of BCM of the High Country. We had business to attend to and reports to make, but at the last minute, one of the board members spoke up to share a story with us all. He and his wife have “adopted” a Japanese International student through our Host the Nations training program. The program is designed to help church members navigate the university international system and to equip them to be a host family for a student. The student doesn’t live with the family or anything like that. They serve as a designated family to connect with the student and basically show them a good time. Our purpose at BCM of the High Country starts there, but is bigger than that.
This family has been bringing their student into their home for meals and they have taken her to various places around town. She asked to go to church with them (yes!!!) and had her own personal “interpreters” there to explain the meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice at Calvary – talk about a big topic for your first visit to a Christian church!
He went on to tell us that some of her family is flying in from Japan for Christmas and will be staying with them to celebrate and visit. He told us he sees a trip to Japan in his near future.
Most of us have always been insiders. We have been “from here” and we know the customs and the dialects. Even if we move to new towns, we know how to manage. But most of us have probably never felt as much like an outsider as international students do. It doesn’t take much to break down those barriers that keep them so isolated. And isn’t that what Jesus would want of us anyway? With a simple meal or conversation, whole new doors open.
Not too long ago we thought about missions as something you go do. A place far away and a people far removed. You load up all your earthly belongings into a steamer trunk, hop on a cargo ship, and sail away into the wild unknown for the rest of your life. Not only has that changed dramatically – we can Skype or FaceTime almost instantly no matter how far we are from home – but the rest of the world is coming to us. Japan is about as far away from our side of the US as any other country, and yet, Japan is in our back yard. This program isn’t all that much a program. It’s simply a way to connect people. It’s up to the host family to sensitively and appropriately get to know the student, but it’s in that setting that they get to share the love of Jesus with students from all across the world.
Would you pray for this family and for this student? Pray that she would come to know and respond to the love of Jesus. Pray also for laborers. For every student we connect with a host family, there are many others who don’t get connected like this. Even in a little NC mountain town like Boone, there are people from a wide range of nations. Sometimes missions means loving people who are already in your back yard.