International Student Ministry

Source: http://friendsinternational.uk/

This weekend I was at an event organised by Friends International and was reminded how doing outreach to international students is such a strategic ministry.

Many students come to this country from places it would be hard for us to get mission workers into.  We could spend a lot of time, energy and money recruiting, training and sending mission workers for Creative Access Nations, where they then may have to spend many years learning language and culture before they can be effective in ministry.

Or we can put resources into reaching the students God puts on our very doorsteps, who can be equipped to go back to their home countries and take the gospel quickly and effectively to their own people.  What’s not to like about that?!

There are over 400,000 international students in the UK, many of whom have little opportunity to hear the gospel in their own country.  Yet we have a small window of a few years when it is easy, cost-effective and legal to tell them about Jesus.  If every university in the country had teams seeking to befriend international students and lead them to Christ, this task could be accomplished much quicker.

Unlike overseas ministry which requires a lot of preparation, student outreach is readily accessible to ordinary Christians and churches.  It doesn’t take much special training to make tea at an international student café once a month, help an international student improve their English or cook a meal for a hungry student.  And it’s something that doesn’t require a great commitment of time, just an occasional availability.

So where do you start?

  • Contact an agency working with international students, like Agape, Friends International, Navigators or UCCF and ask how you can get involved.
  • Make a point of welcoming international students to your church and asking how you can help them
  • Download resources from the Friends International website.
  • Pray that God will send international students to your church.

Outreach to international students is an ideal ministry for people who care about world mission but can’t for some reason go abroad themselves.  It’s an opportunity to be part of taking the gospel to the nations – who knows how these students are going to affect their nations by their godly wisdom and actions and by leading their compatriots to Christ.

 

Getting your TCK into a UK university

Is it going to happen for TCKs?   (Source: www.sxc.hu

Is it going to happen for TCKs?
(Source: www.sxc.hu)

One of the concerns at the back of the minds of UK mission workers with children is how to get their children into a British university.  The standard understanding around the world is that you have to return to live in the UK for three years in order to establish the right to get your kids into university, but this is not strictly true.

The situation revolves around that vexed question of ordinary residence which we have already encountered when thinking about income tax (see Tax doesn’t have to be taxing and Statutory Residence Test).  You don’t have to be physically resident in the UK to be ordinarily resident.  If you are UK citizens who would live in the UK if you weren’t working for a mission agency, you are considered resident even if you are ‘temporarily’ abroad for your work.

This means that the children of UK mission workers should be eligible for university entrance and student loans even if they have never lived long-term in the UK.  However even if you fill in all the application forms correctly, many universities are wrongly categorising Third Culture Kids (TCKs) as international students.  While this situation is usually corrected on appeal, this process can take time, so don’t leave it till the last minute to submit the forms.

The Global Connections TCK Forum. considers issues such as this and has some very helpful resources listed on its webpage, including a very helpful paper by Steve Bryant and a powerpoint by Ann Christian which presents the issues visually in a helpful manner.

If you are having difficulties persuading a UK university to accept that your TCK is ordinarily resident, please contact Syzygy on info@syzygy.org.uk and we will try to enlist help for you.