Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are times that create curiosity in the minds of internationals.  Imagine if you were in a foreign country and everyone was celebrating… wouldn’t you want to know what was going on?  Although international students will not always express this, almost all would like to experience our holidays.

What is the best way to explain a holiday to an international student?

There is probably no “best way” to present a holiday, but it is important to explain the event in an understandable way.  Often it is useful to explain the fuller traditions that are associated with the holiday.  For example, if you are explaining Good Friday and Easter, start with the Jewish feast of Passover as presented in the Bible.  Mention how the blood of a lamb was offered to cover over sin.  Then explain how the Bible calls Jesus the “Lamb of God.”  Good Friday is significant because of God removing our sin through the perfect sacrifice (Jesus).  As for Easter, explain that it is celebrated on a Sunday because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead.  Certainly you may need to explain each point in more detail.  And you may also want to explain that the Easter bunny, candy and eggs have nothing to do with Christ and are only secular observations of the Easter holiday.

How can I gather students for the Easter holiday?

There are many ways, but here are three suggestions.

  • Holiday dinner:  Invite friends to your home, locate host families to entertain students or have a large dinner at a church or social hall.  Depending on the group’s level of spiritual interest you may want to have someone explain the Christian significance of the day.  You also may want to show the “JESUS” DVD or give copies as gifts.
  • Invite your international friends to a holiday concert or play.  Go as a whole group and have a fun evening together.
  • Bring friends to church with you.  Don’t expect to convert them; just help them to be comfortable and answer any questions they have.

Remember when ministering to internationals that sharing the gospel is not a one-time event–it is a process.  Therefore, realize that it is not necessary or appropriate to press your international friends for a faith decision.  Rather seek to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, remembering that for many, this will be their first exposure to this holiday and to the message of Christ.  Having said that, some may demonstrate a real interest in the love of God and the forgiveness offered through Christ-if so, pursue the conversation or make an appointment to talk further within the next week.

Relax and enjoy being with your friends.  Pray for them, ask them about their impressions of the Easter holiday and talk about spiritual things in accord with their level of interest.   Ask the Lord to allow your joy to show forth in a natural way that touches hearts.