When Joy, an international student from the Far East, made the decision to believe in Jesus Christ, she expressed concern about her inability to pray in English. In Revelation 7:9, John paints a vision of heaven with colorful lines. He sees standing before him, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language.” Ethnically diverse peoples and different languages bring richness to our Christian faith that would be otherwise missing.
Last summer, Joy’s sister began speaking to her about Jesus. She had recently become a Christian herself and wanted Joy to share in the new life that Christ brings. When Joy returned to Knox College in the fall, she approached some students in InterVarsity; Joy was curious to know more about Jesus. The InterVarsity students developed a relationship with Joy, answering her questions and watching as the Holy Spirit worked in her heart.
Soon Joy’s friends in InterVarsity could see that she was ready to follow Christ. When they asked her if she had prayed with anyone she answered, “We weren’t able to get together so I just prayed on my own. I’m not sure if it was ok though, because I prayed in my own language.”
To some people outside our country, Christianity seems synonymous with the United States. To them, being a Christian means to be from America. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit speaks deeply enough to the heart so that those misconceptions crumble easily. Joy’s InterVarsity friends began to tell her about God’s intention for people of all ethnicities and cultures.
Not only did God create all peoples and languages, and not only does he understand them, but he loves and celebrates them as well. We should rejoice in our shared faith and also in our varied cultures and languages; our differences bring together a multitude of perspectives and thus a more profound understanding of the Lord. We learn from each other about who God is, what it means to worship him, how to serve each other in the body of Christ.
With the encouragement of her friends, Joy has become passionate about her new faith. And because she now recognizes God’s incredible design for a multi-hued tapestry of people, she has begun passionately praying for students in other countries to hear and understand the gospel.
Not only has she joined the multitude of believers that John speaks of in Revelation, but with courage and faith she is living out Jesus’ mandate to make disciples of all nations.
InterVarsity students often walk alongside international students like Joy, loving the stranger in their midst, and showing them the light of Christ.