Exchange Students As A Mission Field

As the father of two exchange students, I was fully aware I would have some adjustments.  As a family, we knew it would keep us busy.  Besides the getting to know them and the figuring out what they like to eat, we wanted to make sure we unraveled where each of the students was at spiritually.  The Chinese student was VERY easy.  No affiliation does not make you think your work is already done.  (The fact she is attending a Christian school certainly makes us think she is open to the idea.  Or, maybe the desire to learn English far surpasses her lack of interests in anything overtly spiritual.)  Our Korean student is a Christian who was recently baptized before coming to our home.  So, we thought most of our work was done.

Their first weekend in our home led to our first trip to church together.  I was prepared to handle both students differently, but the post-church discussion makes me not so sure….

  • Korean student:  As we walked out of church, she asked me, “What is sin?”  I just thought this was a failure of her English education.  When a response of “bad things” did not seem to get the right facial expressions, I tried to refer to the Bible and Moses and the 10 commandments.  I am not sure if this had any more success.  Certainly something to stay mindful of.  I am not sure culturally if this is a failure or if it is just a translation issue.  Plenty of time to observe….
  • Chinese student:  The sermon was on the Holy Spirit.  She sat nicely, listened intently, stood when the “entertainment team” did their singing, and clapped at all of the right times.  As I listened tot he sermon, I viewed it as a “heavy” sermon.  I am not sure how she perceived it.  With another 9+ months of living with us and the attending a Christian school, it would seem I would not be trusting the Holy Spirit at all if I tried to convert her after just one sermon.  She will certainly be the subject of our prayers.

So much time remains with them.  We look to our faith growing from them being here.  And, we look forward to observing some seeds taking root (or roots growing more deeply) within both of their lives.  We feel very blessed to be able to observe them as they begin/continue a faith journey in a different culture.

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