The number of international students from India studying in the U.S. is rising, and ISI is working to assist staff as they grow in their knowledge of and ministry to this very important population. Our 2015 National Conference was held in Goa, India with many outstanding speakers who taught staff about ministering to students from their culture.
India is currently experiencing a revival of nationalism thanks to their ruling party. Hinduism is in, and Christianity is out. Six Indian states have, in fact, passed laws which prohibit conversion to Christianity. Thousands of western-funded NGOs had to leave India because the nation’s leadership wanted to stop their influence (and was willing to sacrifice the services lost to do it).
International students are not only coming to the United States. India has some 200,000 international students coming to study in India, most of them coming from Africa. ISI is working with local churches in India to help provide training and services through church volunteers to those students. Almost all African international students in India return to Africa when finished with schooling because India will not grant them a work visa to immigrate.
Outreaches to students from India here in the U.S. include airport pickups, furniture giveaways, orientation meetings and tours, friendship, and campus International Christian Fellowships and home groups, trips, and retreats. With growing relationships, students are invited to Bible studies if they want to attend. But we continue to love the students and help them even if they have no interest in the spiritual activities we offer.
Like most international students, Indian students are very devoted to their studies. They see this one opportunity as critical to their future career. Many students are able to stay in the U.S. and do Optional Practical Training (OPT) following their graduation. This is a work visa for up to two years which allows practical training in their area of scholastic study. With a degree and experience, they have excellent job prospect upon returning home.
Please pray for God to call many of these students into a personal relationship with himself and to raise up Indian Christian student leaders to reach out to their fellow countrymen on campus. Also pray we find more creative ways to minister to this critical group of students.
Principles cited in this blog: Christians are finding it more difficult to minister in India, and we have great opportunity with students coming to the U.S.; prayer is needed to make a spiritual impact with this group of students
Application for ISI ministry: Continue to seek ways of building relationships that last over time
Next blog topic: Focus on the Muslim world
Doug Shaw with Derrah Jackson