You don't have to leave the country to tell the world about Jesus. You don't even have to get in your car. All you have to do is step outside of your dorm and befriend the world that has come to your college campus. Thousands of students from all over the world have traveled to America to receive a college education. These students have many physical needs, as well as spiritual needs that you can help meet while they are in America. Maybe you could offer them a ride or tutor them in english. By establishing friendships with these students you have a unique opportunity to share your faith with them and learn about their faith as well.
Baptist Campus Ministry in North Carolina has a long history of involvement with international students. Some of our earliest work was in the cities of Greensboro and Charlotte, still areas of heavy concentration of internationals. In 1980 an intentional and organized ministry was begun. It involved cooperation among a variety of groups: the Baptist State Convention of NC, local associations, local churches, and numerous committed individuals. In 1983 the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention joined the partnership, and Charlotte became a location where potential foreign mission appointees could receive their required two years' experience before appointment. This program lasted until 1990. In 1987 a statewide ministry was reintroduced when statewide conferences were again planned, using the old model of the annual Thanksgiving International Student Retreat at Williamsburg, Virginia.
Today the international student ministry, sponsored by Campus Ministry of the Baptist State Convention, NC, takes several forms. There are campus ministers who work full-time with international students in four locations: Tom Knight in Charlotte, Audrey Womack in Greensboro, Scott Freese in Winston-Salem/High Point, and Sammy Joo in the Triangle area. Sources of funding are varied. As Baptist associations find themselves stretched to particpate in a variety of ministries, our local international ministry boards are being encouraged to discover their own funding resources. The Baptist State Convention provides partial financial assitance in Winston-Salem/High Point, Greensboro and Charlotte. The hope is for the ministries to become self-supporting.
On other campuses across our state, our Baptist Campus Ministries reach out to international students, both through the work of campus ministers and through the interest of BCM students. Appalachian State University provided a CARE package outreach ministry, in cooperation with local churches in the area, and made a contact with virtually every international student on the ASU campus. Campbell University has a consistent ministry to internationals through its BCM Council, with students taking the lead. At Chowan University the International Campus Minister works with students to sponsor and promote regular activities on and around the campus. The ministries are varied, depending on the location. What we know is true is that there are international students on just about every campus in this state, including our community colleges and technical schools. We continue to look for ways to share the Good News of God's love with North Carolina's international students and to offer Christian hospitality in such a way that the transition from one's home country and culture to this new one can be as easy as possible.
There are two groups which seek regularly to expand this ministry, to interest more Baptist students to reach out to internationals on their campuses, and to encourage local churches and associations to be more involved with international students. The statewide BCM has an International Student Team which meets regularly. Its primary functions are to plan the International Student Conference each spring and to find ways to encourage fellow students to be involved in the lives of internationals on local campuses. In addition, our campus ministry staff who have specific responsibilities with international students meet periodically throughout the year to share resources and ideas for ministry and to strategize ways to enlarge the ministry.
Statewide, an International Student Conference is offered each year, on the coast, at our North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Ft. Caswell, in the spring. The next conference date is April 11-13, 2014. We are grateful to the Woman's Missionary Union of NC and Oak Island Baptist Church for providing assistance to help in underwriting this conference.
If you are interested in further information about our ministry with international students, contact Rick Trexler.