Across Ireland, Christian Unions are in the process of handing over responsibilities to new committees. One of those committee roles that you may not know much about is the international secretary/coordinator. Why does this role exist and what do they do?
Every year, hundreds of thousands of students from virtually every nation around the world come to study in universities across the UK & Ireland, including 4,000 students in Northern Ireland and over 35,000 students in Ireland. That means, nearly 1 out of every 10 students are international, which creates an exciting opportunity for every CU to reach the nations right here on our campuses.
Because of our identity in Christ, we are ALL called to befriend and share the gospel of Jesus with international students on our campus, however an international secretary can provide extra knowledge, attention and vision for cross–cultural ministry. They can help the committee be aware of the unique needs, challenges and worldview of international students (both Christian and non–Christian), and also motivate the CU to understand the Biblical responsibility, the unique missional opportunity and the wonderful privilege it is to develop friendship and faith with internationals. What this look likes for each CU varies, but it can play out through prayer, choosing guest speakers, training content and materials, and mission events.
In addition to motivating the CU to look beyond just reaching the local student, many international secretaries organise special events to welcome and befriend international students. Offering hospitality and authentic friendship is Biblical and key to building trust with i–students, and therefore why weekly events, like an international café, are effective ministries. In addition to coordinating the details of a weekly or one–off event, international secretaries also mobilise and lead a team of CU volunteers to help care for and to communicate the Gospel to their international friends.
The goal for international student ministry is not to create two parallel CUs – one for local students and one for internationals – but to help the committee think through how the CU can be most welcoming to outsiders and visitors, irrespective of where they’ve come from.
God can’t be kept in a box; his gospel and loving purposes are for his whole world. God wants all the nations to hear about Jesus, and the CU, with the help of an international secretary, has a brilliant chance to be part of that as you welcome internationals on your campus.