Cross-cultural ministry begins at home as international students experience God’s love

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Missions


Halal elk burgers may help a Saudi student meet Jesus after she spent a weekend among Christ’s disciples and God’s creation at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. 

John Pederson helped lead 20 students from Bangladesh, Colombia, Spain, India, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia on the trip. He and his wife Kathie, part of Converge’s From Scattered to Gathered Initiative, regularly welcome international students into their home, where they declare their hope in Christ relevantly.

The Saudi woman was herself the entire weekend in April, wearing a hijab and honoring her cultural traditions, such as eating halal foods. On the trip, she and several other students appreciated a Christian’s kindness in making the halal elk burgers.

The group saw where the Mississippi River starts, hiked, climbed a fire tower, rode four-wheelers and attended a worship service. 

“Hanging out with the families was the biggest thing,” Pederson said. “They got pretty close.” 

The Pedersons, the Hospitality Center in Minneapolis and two churches partnered to serve these 20 university students. The collaborative, kingdom mindset fostered trust between the students and believers, freeing the Saudi woman to ask for a Bible. Several other students asked spiritual questions and received prayer for their educational, career and life dreams. 

Related: Join a Tuesday morning prayer Zoom asking God for a breakthrough among least-reached in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Pederson explained that building relationships with least-reached people here is slow, hard work. But Christ’s work is by no means a hopeless effort: A man from India on this weekend trip was a believer. Since the trip, he has been baptized at an American church and shared the video of his baptism with the new friends and families he met on the weekend trip. 

That’s the goal of the From Scattered to Gathered initiative: Build relationships with least-reached peoples and introduce them to Jesus. The team comes alongside Converge churches and offers them pathways to make disciples of other cultures as God sovereignly relocates these least-reached peoples to America for work or school. 

“Who are the ones that don’t have the gospel in their home country that are our neighbors?” Pederson asked. “Let’s go after the least-reached here, near and far.”

Did you know that 70,000 people die daily without a chance to hear a credible gospel presentation? Converge International Ministries is asking God for a gospel movement among every least-reached people group — in our generation.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

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