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The Chinese Students on Your Doorstep


If you live near a major university, chances are you will meet a student or researcher from China. In the 2013-14 academic year there were 274,439 students from China studying in the US at the university level. That is 31% of all international students studying in the US.

This year there are 600 freshman at the University of Illinois—nearly one out of every ten new freshmen.  No wonder they have started Mandarin broadcasts of their football games!

And then there are the Chinese high school (and even middle school) students who are not just coming as exchange students but who are doing their secondary education in North America in anticipation of graduating and continuing seamlessly into college.

Through the friendship and witness of local Christians, often as part of campus ministry groups and churches, these students are being exposed to the gospel—some for the first time—and many are coming to faith. But what happens to these new believers when they return home?

One PhD student from Xi’an who came to faith while studying in the US expressed concern about returning to China. She didn’t know any Christians in her hometown and wasn’t sure what to expect when she returned—as a follower of Christ—to her community, her family, her friends, and her colleagues.

Her concern is not unfounded. Many who return find themselves drawn back into familiar relationships and patterns of living in which there is no place for faith. The Christian community in China is foreign to them and they often feel as if they don’t fit.

Are there ways to help these new believers be better prepared when they return home? Brent Hoover, a recent participant in a ChinaSource Conversations podcast, pointed out the challenges and suggested some possibilities for overcoming those challenges in “Before and After They Go Back to China.”

Maybe it’s time you, and your church, considered reaching out to the Chinese students on your doorstep!

Image credit: NYU by stateofplace via Flickr.
Narci Herr

Narci Herr

Narci Herr and her husband, Glenn, lived for just over 30 years in Hong Kong. They were first involved in working with the church in Hong Kong and then for the last 20 years of their time in Asia they served workers living in China. During that time Glenn traveled extensively throughout China and Narci... View Full Bio