We’ve explored the great need and strategic opportunity of international student ministry (ISM) in China in my previous posts.[1] But who will reach, disciple, and equip them with the gospel of Jesus Christ? What is the road ahead?

We know that God is calling people from every nation (Psalm 96) and that the nations have come to China! This motivated the pioneers of ISM.[2] What can we learn from them about why and how ISM movements started?

John R. Mott was moved to care for and evangelize foreign students in the USA, and in 1911 he created the Committee on Friendly Relations among Foreign Students[3]. As an international student in China in 1948, Bob Finley noticed the political impact of Chinese students returning from Russia. The strategic opportunities drove him to start International Students Inc. on home soil “to evangelize, train and deploy foreign students back to their home countries for ministry.” And in 1954 Mark Hanna and John Bjorkland launched American Citizens Residing Overseas for Study and Service (ACROSS) “to empower Americans to study overseas and thereby evangelize in close[d] countries.”[4]

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