Thirty-three years ago, a young man from China visited the small farm town of Muscatine, Iowa on an agricultural research trip. He stayed with Eleanor and Thomas Dvorchak, a farm family whose sons had gone off to college. He slept in the boys’ room, still filled with the memories of childhood. Eleanor said he didn’t complain. “Everything, no matter what, was very acceptable to him. He was humble.”
Four years ago, that same man, no longer young, came back to see his old friends. This time he came with an entourage. The man was Xi Jinping, then China’s vice president, and on his way to being president of the most populous nation on the planet.
Chinese officials explained that Mr. Xi wanted to relive a pleasant experience from his past and reconnect with old friends. Some thought it might be propaganda for the Chinese government at a time when tensions between the US and China were high. But no one in Muscatine cared. The New York Times said, “What was in 1985 just ordinary Iowa niceness came boomeranging back.”
This week in our church, we renew our relationship with PRISM, Pittsburgh Region International Student Ministries. Pittsburgh is host to thousands of international students, many of them the best and brightest from their respective countries. PRISM wants to welcome them all and share with them the love of Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to be part of it. It’s not only rewarding and fun, but it’s got to be one of the most effective types of mission there is.
What if our international guests went home with more than happy memories of their time in Pittsburgh. What if they went home as ambassadors for Jesus Christ?