In addition, international friends who did not come to know Christ personally while here, but who were exposed to Christian love and fellowship, may find themselves significantly missing that fellowship. This is a wonderful time to invite them to take the step of faith to yield their lives to Christ and to find fellowship among Christians near their home.
[Some of what follows is technical, but it is important. Ask your ISI staff person about specifics.]
Depending upon what country your friend returns to, communication can be difficult at first. That is why some planning before they return is critical. Many people use VOIP computer programs or phone apps like Skype to do person-to-person calls. WhatsApp is a popular phone and instant message app for phones. Special international phone call services may allow you to call directly on your cell phone, but the VOIP programs above are cheaper.
For some countries like China, all email and phone connections are monitored by the government—especially the most popular WeChat app for phones. Trying to do Bible studies or have serious discussions about Christian topics can get your friend in trouble with the authorities. Many phone apps are blocked in China, but sometimes it is possible to use WhatsApp, Signal, Proton mail, or Telegraph apps IF THEY ARE DOWNLOADED AND SET UP BEFORE RETURNING HOME as they are not available in China.
As you can see, preparation before returning home is the key. Try to use the various apps before your friend returns home. Sometimes there is some brief set-up required.
Principles cited in this blog: Preparation before returning home is the key to continuing to communicate with one another. Sensitivity to the particulars of their country is important for their safety.
Application for ISI ministry: We can sometimes be a lifeline to a returnee in the midst of reverse culture shock and frustration. If you need help to know how best to communicate for a specific country, ask your local ISI staff person.
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson