By Darla Oksnevad
God is moving people around the world; have you noticed internationals in your neighborhood? God is bringing the mission field to our doorsteps, from all over the world. Yes, immigration is a major political & economic issue today. But God has an eternal view & purpose—in Acts 17:26-27 Paul tells us that God determines where & when people live so that they might seek Him & find Him. Are you building bridges of friendship with the immigrants that God is bringing to your neighborhood, to help them find God? The holidays are a great time to build some bridges & share the story of Christ, which some have never heard. It can be a lonely time for those far away from home. Here are some suggestions that we’ve gathered; just pick one & see where it leads.
*Invite an international college student or family for Thanksgiving dinner. Some students are “stuck in the dorm” for Thanksgiving. Check with the International Student Dept. at local colleges for students who would like to be invited to a home. Share what your family is thankful for; include personal testimonies of how you came to know Christ as Savior. If they have not heard the story of the Pilgrims & the first Thanksgiving, share it with them. Illustrated children’s books can help you tell the story. Ask some questions about their country & culture, & if they have any similar holidays. Then follow-up later by inviting them again for dinner.
*Take a gift of food to a neighbor—pumpkin or banana bread, homemade cookies, brownies, or a pie. Tell them that this is a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas food/dessert, that you thought they might like to try. Include a card with your address & phone number, if they need any help or information. Some people will return the gesture & bring you something in return. Accept any gifts graciously, as it is their way of honoring you. You could also include the “Jesus” DVD (www.AllNationsDVDs.com for DVDs in many languages), or Christmas literature.
*Some churches distribute the “Jesus” DVD to internationals in their community over the holidays, by going door-to-door, in shopping areas, or wherever they “hang-out”.
*Invite internationals to attend a Christmas concert or church event with you; then invite them back to your home for dessert & discussion about the event. Ask if they have any questions about the message they have heard. Share the Christmas story from the Bible & explain that this is the real reason for Christmas.
*Plan an international Christmas event, such as a ladies brunch or lunch. Use decorations from around the world, serve international foods, & encourage the women to wear national dress. Include testimonies from several women & a clear simple Christmas message.
*Plan a Christmas party for immigrant children; include a visualized story of Jesus’ birth, games, & a snack.
*Share your church building with immigrants who would like to have a holiday party, but need a place to meet. Offer to help with the event.
* “Adopt” an international student or family during their stay in your community. You could be their “family away from home”, to help them settle into life here.