Posts in Al LaCour
How I Have Been Shaped By China

What wisdom, 智慧, did I gain from this second trip? I realized that some of the most effective ways to reach China and the Chinese are not vocational missionary efforts, but through: 1) scientific exchanges (hence, ministry among international students and scholars); 2) business and trade exchanges; and 3) western expatriate professionals in China who love their Chinese friends to such an extent that they will risk their own lives to save them.

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Conference Voices: In the Name of God's Foreigner

What are the statistics? Last year, a record high of 886,000 international students studied on campuses in the United States of America. The largest group, almost one third, come from China. Today there are 274,439 Chinese students on our university campuses. For the broader international student community, we are seeing a yearly increase of more than 8%. That number is doubled for China whose student population in America increases by 16% yearly. God has brought more foreign students to the United States than to any other nation.

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Why Not Enjoy A “Back to the Future” Holiday?

Why not make room at your table, in the middle of your holiday traditions, to welcome a far-from-home international student? Your life will be enriched as you practice biblical hospitality. Your entire family will engage inglobal-local missions (without any need for a passport to go on a short term missions trip),  And, you will go back to the future.  Pragmatically, international students cannot “go home” for the holidays.  They miss their families. But, what do I mean that you and your family can go back to the future? First, consider that Christian hospitality contrasts with holiday entertaining. Jesus reminds us that hospitality is not inviting your friends, relatives, or business associates (typical holiday guests).  Jesus says in Luke 14:12: “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.” Biblical hospitality contrasts with entertaining: you offer a place to reflect God’s grace, and expect no repayment.

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Hospitality: Our Ministry Identity

Is hospitality a gift or our duty from God? Should churches welcome outsiders as a ministry pursuit or as a mandate to obey? Is making room for foreigners in our busy lives God’s command or God’s promise? In the Bible, we find that hospitality is infused with all of these dimensions. As portrayed in both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, hospitality is a spiritual grace that transforms strangers into friends. As Christine Pohl writes in her book Making Room, “Hospitality is… fundamental to Christian identity.” I have spent much time and effort to persuade churches (some holding a geographic, rather than a biblical definition of world missions) that welcoming international students among us is valid “global-local” missions. I remind churches that, while God calls some Christians to traditional foreign missions, he commands all Christians to “practice hospitality” according to Romans 12:13. Not every Christian is gifted or called by God to leave a familiar place and take Christ’s gospel to a foreign place. But God calls all Christians to welcome outsiders into our ordinary daily lives, homes, and churches - into our covenant communities.

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