Ministry to Internationals

Immigrants, Students, Refugees and Visitors

From 1970 to 2010 more than 35 million immigrants moved to the United States, not counting visiting students, tourists or undocumented individuals. Canada has also seen tremendous growth due to friendly immigration policies.

Here are a few examples:

  • More than half a million Chinese, mainly from Hong Kong, live in the metro Toronto area.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Iranians live in California.
  • Minneapolis has a Somali population of more than 75,000.

Generally, business people arrive in the United States with a basic understanding of the English language, and their families often struggle with English and the loneliness this causes. They also can have difficulty making friends and identifying with the community.

Many immigrants will return to their homeland, so it is important to give them a good impression of North Americans and of the Christian faith. They respond well to simple acts of kindness, such as:

  • Always saying hello and stopping to speak with them about their day.
  • Having tea or dessert with them in your home.
  • Extending an invitation to dinner.
  • Offering to meet each month or week to practice English.
  • Inviting them to join you at an event or church service.
  • Engaging them in a discussion about family background and belief.

International Students

There are more than 723,000 international college students in the U.S. and more than 150,000 in Canada. They represent some of the brightest minds in the world, including future world leaders. More than 200 countries have government leaders who studied in the United States—including Harvard graduate Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.

Here are some ways you can have a significant outreach to international students:

  • Pray for international students in general and a specific country.
  • Call your college international office and meet with the director.
  • Offer to host a student(s) for a dinner.
  • Contact student associations/clubs and sponsor an event or meal.
  • Sponsor a weekend retreat or one-day event.
  • Take a student to a professional sport game.
  • Call a campus ministry and ask them to teach your Bible study group how they can reach out to students.
  • Offer to meet with a student to help improve conversational English skills.

Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants pose one of the greatest opportunities to share the love of Christ with the world. They represent people from both reached and unreached people groups and are receptive to the love of others. Most are poor and socially repressed due to the nature of their status. Many will return to their country and tell the story of how Christians loved and cared for them.

Reaching out to an undocumented immigrant individual or family shows the world that the church cares for all people. Remember, Christians believe that God is in control and has allowed undocumented immigrants into our country to hear the gospel and know the love of Christ.


Refugees are extremely happy to have a chance for a new life here in North America. They are friendly and want to make new friends among Americans and Canadians. They want to identify with their new community, learn how to assimilate and add value to their neighborhoods. Although many refugees speak English, they usually welcome help with learning English and cultural nuances.

You can help a refugee by:

  • Praying for the Lord to show you the refugees around you.
  • Going out of your way to say hello.They need to know you are glad they are here.
  • Inviting them into your home for friendship or a meal. Expect some cultural matters to be dealt with at a meal but nothing you cannot quickly overcome.
  • Inviting them to your outings and shopping experiences. They will welcome help in discovering places in the community.
  • Offering to help their children with their school work. Most will have great study habits but may need to understand their classwork expectations.
  • Sports is a common denominator. Help them get their children involved in area or church sports programs.
  • Everyone loves music. Invite refugees to attend your church musicals.
  • Invite refugees to attend your church service. If they are open to learning the Christian faith, they will attend.
  • Introduce them to neighbors and friends. They love to meet people.
  • Conversational English may be greatly desired. Offer to meet regularly with them to talk. English is best learned by talking. Let them do the talking.

Links and Resources