Diversity in Boulder
Pastor Brandon Washington (the Embassy, Denver, CO) recently brought our congregation a vision and challenge of living in diversity within our context. He passionately brought attention to God’s desire to see all tribes and tongues worshipping Him together now - not only in the new heaven and new earth. (sermon link)
First, a word of empathy to our Boulder church. I grew up in a multi-cultural home in Aurora, CO, a city with racial, economic and cultural diversity. This diversity was represented in every aspect of my life. Since moving to Boulder, I miss the obvious diversity and I myself feel out of place sometimes! Even I can have a hard time engaging as much as I would hope to because diversity is not as “in your face” in Boulder. However, as Pastor Brandon reminded us, Boulder still has diversity - we just have to be more intentional and make sure we are thinking past racial diversity alone.
I won’t re-iterate all of the sermon points, but I will highlight one of several avenues of diverse ministry available in our city: international students.
Are you aware that in 2015 CU hosted more than 2,500 students from other countries? (See more statistics here) That number has been growing every year with more and more foreign students coming to our city. According to “About Missions”, a missions statistics organization “22 million internationals visit the US each year. Of these, some 630,000 are university students from 220 countries, 25% of which prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home.”
Imagine a missionary who didn’t need to learn another language, spend lots of resources on expensive travel abroad, nor actually raise any support or move. That is the opportunity before the church in America! Citizens from around the world are coming to us and are eager to connect with Americans.
We have a ministry headquartered right here in Boulder, International Crossroads (IC) (see website or Facebook page) , that establishes ministries to international students on college campuses! After my husband André’s family was exiled during the Lebanese civil war, they moved to Boulder and started international student ministries. I have been involved in ministering to international students in different capacities since 1999 and invite you to join us! One of the simplest ways to be involved is to sign up- yourself, your MC, or your family-to be connected with an international student(s). Checking in on “your” international student, inviting them to dinner, an outing, to watch football, to a church service or group, or holiday makes a huge difference in their lives - as frequent or as infrequent as is feasible for you! There are other opportunities such as English conversation hour, Bible Studies, special interest groups or Friday night dinners run by International Crossroads and more. Or, you could just do something on your own and reach out to an international!
Our family has found that, while in the U.S., many internationals have a unique and limited window to freely visit a church or explore questions related to religion or other interests. Why not engage the world in our midst?