Connecting with International Students during Easter 

Lindsay Venters
International and American students pose for a picture inside a home

As international students step onto college campuses, they are taking in all the sights and sounds of a new place. They are figuring out where to hang out, where they belong, and learning different customs. International students anticipate learning new things about a new place and culture. They want to learn and connect with others. There are certain cultural moments that can create open doors to connect with International students. Holidays are always a great way to share culture, memories, special traditions and to include international students in the regular rhythms of your life. Easter is an incredible opportunity to leverage gospel conversations as the death and resurrection of Jesus is the entire reason we celebrate Easter. So, the gospel naturally comes up in the conversation as you discuss Easter. 

In 1 Peter 1:3, we are reminded, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Easter is a time where we get to celebrate the living hope we have in Jesus. We can share that living hope with international students in a variety of practical ways. 

Inviting Students into Your Church and Home 

Out of the 1 million international students in the United States, most international students never step foot in an American’s home. I believe the church can and should change that fact. Easter is a great time to invite international students into your home. Many international students are not invited to church either. Easter is a great time to invite students because most churches are expecting guests and are even more in tune with the needs on that particular day. You can invite them to church for Easter and then, have them in your home for Easter lunch. If that is not possible, you could invite them over for a dinner or lunch leading up to Easter and discuss the meaning of Easter at dinner. Family traditions are a great thing to share with International students to build trust and relationships. You can dye eggs, put together Easter baskets, have an egg toss, make cookies or whatever your family tends to do together at Easter. 

Host an Easter Party 

In addition to having students in your home, you can host an Easter egg hunt because even college students like to hunt for eggs. This could be at your home, a local park, etc. You can include some fun prizes like gift cards or candy. Ask people in your church or small group to donate or to join you to host. You can incorporate the Resurrection Eggs into the egg hunt or 

use them to explain the meaning of Easter afterward. Resurrection Eggs are a great tool with a different object inside each egg that helps to explain the biblical events that led up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. If you incorporate these eggs into a normal egg hunt, you can mark 

them with tape and number them. Instruct your guests not to open them until you all gather together. Then, go through each one in number order and explain them. This is a great tool and visual for people of all ages to understand the true meaning of Easter. Recently, our family has enjoyed making a resurrection garden where you gather things like soil, grass, twigs, rocks and create a tomb setting in a pot that can be seen daily and can be a reminder of what Jesus has

done for us. This could be a neat thing to do with International students that they can take back to their dorm or apartment and function as a reminder each day of the hope we have in Jesus. 

Cook Together 

There are some things that are traditional Easter foods for many families such as ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs, etc. Invite International students over to cook with you in your home. It doesn’t have to be the whole meal but maybe one or two items. You could cook Resurrection Rolls together which are just crescent rolls filled with a marshmallow rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Once they are baked the marshmallow disappears into the crust of the crescent roll. This is a great teaching tool to show that Jesus was put into the tomb after his death but when they opened the tomb, He was not there. He had risen! This is an easy visual that can open up a gospel conversation and it tastes good too. Remember “food is a language we all speak.” Sharing meals together can be a great way to connect and often leads to open doors and builds trust. A mentor once told me that as we minister to International students, “We want to build a bridge of trust that can bear the weight of truth.” We should carry this mindset as we minister to International students. It is often a type of ministry where you have to be in it for the long haul and relationship building is key. 

As you engage and connect with International Students, remember Jesus has already done the work and He wants us to be faithful to tell others about the life-changing work He has already done.

Lindsay Venters loves God, His Word, and the world. She currently serves with International Students at the University of South Carolina at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM). She has a Masters in Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where she also met her husband. She is married to Adam Venters who serves as the BCM Director at USC. They love to serve together to reach college students to know and grow in their faith in Jesus. She loves to connect and welcome international students and strives to mobilize the local church to love on international students as well.

Join us for our next International Student Ministry Zoom call on Thursday, Feb. 8 from 2-3 ET. Our top is “Engaging Muslim students” led by a guest from the IMB. You can sign up here: http://ismbaptist.net/connect

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