The number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities has nearly doubled over the last 12 years, according to the Institute of International Education.
More than a million college students from overseas studied in the United States in the 2015-2016 academic year. That’s up from 565,039 in 2004-2005.
Almost a third of international students come from China (328,547), followed by India (165,918), Saudi Arabia (61,287), South Korea (61,007), and Canada (26,973).
Ministering to these students is as easy as inviting them to your home, say Ross and Jane Burton, members of First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The church isn’t far from the University of Arkansas. So for the past 17 years, the Burtons have taken part in their church’s adopt-a-college-student ministry.
At first the Burtons befriended college students from the United States. Four years ago, they began working with college students from overseas. They have no special training but are kindhearted and friendly. They also offer lessons in American culture, take students to church, and offer practical help—driving lessons and rides to Sam’s Club.
“The church is in a position to reach the nations with the gospel right here in Arkansas, right now,” Teresa “Bit” Stephens, a college minister at Metro Baptist in Little Rock, told Baptist Press. “Students come from very close-knit families. For Americans to have internationals in their homes is a prime opportunity for the hearts of internationals to be softened to the love of God they see and experience in the home.”