During the holidays, many international students studying in the United States can find themselves alone, without friends and family to celebrate with. One person wrote to Billy Graham with a question about inviting foreign students to visit over Thanksgiving.
Q: Our church has been asked by a local college to find families to take care of some of their foreign students over Thanksgiving. We’ve thought about doing this, but I’m not sure if we’re really up to it. What do you think?
A: I’m thankful your church has been given this opportunity, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it. Not only will it give these students an opportunity to be in an American home, but it also will give you and your family an unusual opportunity to learn about another part of the world.
Every year, tens of thousands of students come from other countries to study here, and many are the future leaders of their nations. How tragic it would be if they never got acquainted with a typical American family, or came away feeling they weren’t welcomed here. How would you feel if you were in their shoes, and no one ever showed any interest in you? God told the ancient Israelites, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself” (Leviticus 19:34).
I hope you’ll also see this as an opportunity to share your faith with someone who might not have ever met another Christian. We send missionaries to other countries (and we should), but now many from those same countries are here in our midst, at least for a time. Pray that God will help you be a witness to them, both by your life and your words.
Don’t, however, invite students into your home for Thanksgiving — and then forget about them. Ask God to help you be a real friend to them during their time here, and then to use that friendship to point them to an even greater Friend: Jesus Christ.