Beginning some forty years ago in Saint Louis, a group of Baptist churches combined their cooking skills and gifts of hospitality to host a weekly lunch for international students studying at Washington University of Saint Louis. This week the first Tuesday Lunch for International Students and Scholars of the 2016-2017 academic year took place, continuing a ministry that has welcomed students and scholars from around the world, provided them with a hot meal, and in some cases with their first opportunity to sit down and talk with a Christian.
Both the lunch and the students who attend it have changed over the years. Now churches from several denominations are involved as well as some non-denominational congregations—but all are united in their desire to welcome the students in Jesus’ name and reach out to them in friendship.
In the early days, the lunch was a needed hot meal for some of the students with limited means. Today most of them have better financial support but they still enjoy the opportunity to eat a homemade meal and talk to other internationals and interested Americans. The conversations are seldom dull.
While the students coming to the lunch are from all over the world (this week a new student from Latvia was there), the majority are from mainland China. Indeed, the number of Chinese students studying overseas continues to increase every year.
And among those students, as they encounter Christians, many are hearing the gospel and some are responding in faith.
At one of the lunches, a student who had come to faith in Christ while she was pursuing a PhD at Wash U, mentioned that she was concerned about returning to Xi’an after she graduated. None of her family are Christians; she didn’t know any Christians in China; and she was uncertain what it would be like to be a Christian back in her hometown. Returning to China as a new believer in Christ was a daunting prospect for her.
Five years ago, ChinaSource tackled that very issue in the 2011 winter edition of ChinaSource Quarterly, “Returnees to China.” While what is written there is still relevant, we thought it was time to revisit the topic. The autumn issue of the Quarterly, “A Call to Partnership in Chinese Returnee Ministry," will do just that.
Due to be published the last week in September, the 2016 autumn Quarterly will include:
“The Need for Chinese Students to Prepare for Their Return”
“Functioning as the Body to Build the Body: Working Together for Chinese Returnees”
“Returnees Committing to Church in China”
View from the Wall:
People of China:
“The Hook and the Cook: A Portrait of a Mainland Chinese Student in the UK”
“Understanding and Serving in the “New China,” a review of China’s Next Generation: New China, New Church, New World by Luis Bush, Brent Fulton, and a Christian Worker in China.
If you aren’t a regular reader of ChinaSource Quarterly, this would be a great time to subscribe. Click here to subscribe and you will receive an email notification letting you know when the autumn issue is published on the ChinaSource website.