By Anna Kynast
I’ll never forget the story my mom tells of a new Chinese student in her ESL class at the beginning of the school year. Completely unfamiliar with Jesus and his Gospel, she listened attentively as my Mom read her the first chapter of The Jesus Storybook Bible, written to show Scripture as one overarching story of redemption. Before she had even finished reading, the eager student interjected. “Oh!” she exclaimed, her eyes widening and a smile spreading across her face, “Is this a love story?” She was hardly able to contain her anticipation for what was coming next. My mom’s face mirrored the girl’s smile, overjoyed to respond, “Yes! Yes, it is a love story! The very best one of all.”
In this season of Advent, I am reminded of what it means to wait in expectation of the Lord Jesus. I am encouraged by the purpose behind what so many of you do daily, as you joyfully anticipate Christ’s work in the lives of international students on campuses across the country. These students enrich our communities, schools, churches, and homes, while expanding our view of God as He is reflected in His children around the world.
December is often a time of great busyness—deadlines, travel, college applications, exams, and hard work to finish the year well. Many of your students are tired. On top of studying in a second (or third, or fourth) language, transition is never easy and cultural expectations can be exhausting. They will likely always feel the ache of being different, both here and when they return home. Striving for the future seems endless, and their goals feel distant. I hope and pray this Christmas season energizes our students with a thrill of hope and reason to rejoice in a weary world.
May they find rest in the Gospel, as so many live under immense pressure and the consistent push for perfection.
May they know that they are loved, in the very best love story of all, because of the masterful work of their creator, rather than any combination of extracurriculars or test scores. May this truth free them to do their best, knowing their performance doesn’t determine their significance.
May they know a Savior has come, who understands every detail of their life and culture, and hears them in their own language. And may they know this Savior to be Immanuel—God with us, who has chosen to enter directly in to our places of sufferings and say, “Behold, I am making all things new!”
Immanuel—God IS with us!
God with us in our daily work.
God with us in cultural transition and confusion.
God with us in our language barriers and misunderstandings.
God with us in late nights of homesickness.
God with us in broken relationships and messy families.
God with us in our fears for the future.
At the center of this incredible love story is a baby, whose life and death give us the freedom to rest and rejoice. Let us rest is the finished work of Jesus, rejoicing in great anticipation of all that He is doing and will do in the lives of our students.