Love working with internationals? Wish your friends did, too? Here are some ideas from Joshua Louk (Calvary Bible Church) and Vicky Schroer (Xenos Christian Fellowship), two IFI Church Coordinators in Columbus, on how to do just that!

1. Share the ministry face to face

Joshua and Vicky say that of all the things they’ve done to draw others into serving internationals, the more personal ones are their favorites. Vicky says, “I tell my small group and people I work beside in other ministries about my experiences with international students. Introducing your international friends to your American friends is another good way to help your friends understand what IFI ministry is all about. For example, when you have a student staying with you, invite a few friends to enjoy dinner with you and your student.” Joshua agrees: “Talking with people one-on-one is the most effective. I tell them, ‘You should do this!’” Vicky adds, “It helps if people already know something about IFI before you approach them.”

2. Use a variety of informative media

Vicky has found that different people are more inclined to pay attention to ministry opportunities when she uses a variety of media: church bulletin announcements, verbal announcements, bulletin inserts, ministry booths, email announcements, etc. Joshua laughs that he learned this from experience: “I was surprised when half the church didn’t jump in when I first presented [opportunities to serve with IFI]!” So Joshua expanded his approach: “I made handouts that explain various service opportunities and referred readers to parts of the IFI website. I’ve promoted airport pickup and temporary housing each summer and used the IFI video [available from IFI Columbus] and video testimonies from people in our church who’ve volunteered. All were well received.”

3. Help others grow in ministry

To Vicky, how one thinks about getting others involved is key: “We all benefit from serving, since we were created to serve. Asking your friends to help out is not asking for favors; it’s offering your friends a way to experience the joy of serving.” Joshua agrees: “Internationals want someone to talk to; they want to connect.”

4. Begin with small steps into ministry

“Often the first small steps into ministry involvement lead people to greater ministry involvement down the road,” Vicky encourages. “Suggest small ways to contribute time and talents, such as bringing food to an IFI event, helping with an event administratively, or volunteering in one of IFI’s Welcome activities.”

5. Tell stories that invite

Jesus used stories to call people into His ministry; so can you. Write some of your own experiences as brief stories. And get stories from friends who have served in IFI, too. Who can resist when you ask, “Do you have 3 minutes for a good story?” If yes, choose a story that you know will appeal to your listener. (Make sure it’s no longer than 3 minutes!) Follow it with a personal invitation to join what you are doing, give your listeners some IFI literature, or show them the IFI website and point out an event or activity that would be a good fit for them.

6. Get your pastor’s support

“Why not share some touching stories with your pastor? Pastors want to equip people to put what they hear into action. Pastors who understand IFI ministry are more likely to mention it specifically in their teachings.” Vicky knows how effective this can be: “If your pastor mentions serving international students in a sermon or teaching, church members will be more inclined to consider how they could have a role in the ministry. What a great way, for example, to show God’s love through practicing hospitality! God grows our character as we try to understand people coming from different backgrounds and different cultures.” Vicky strongly encourages: “Consider having more conversations with your pastor about IFI and tell how serving has impacted you personally.”

7. Pray!

None of these good ideas is effective without prayer. Vicky urges, “PRAY that the Lord raises up more workers!” Agreed. The first and best thing all of us can do is, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Matthew 9:39)