“A special obligation for American Christians”, says campus mssionary
By Bill Bray, ASSIST News Service Campus Life Correspondent
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS – November 16, 2016) – International Students Day is being celebrated across the country on Nov. 17 in thousands of campus communities. The November 17 annual event is part of International Education Week.
Here at the University of Virginia, community members from the Operation Esther Circle will begin the day with a prayer breakfast and a one hour “prayer walk” on the University grounds. They will offer up prayers for international students as they “walk by” or “drive by” the iconic Rotunda chapel, the International Student Center, the International Studies Office, international dorms, and campus ministry offices or churches.
This year, overseas student enrollment at universities and colleges jumped 7.1% to top one million international students for the first time. Students from abroad are contributing over $35 billion to the American economy this year per the 2016 Open Doors Report from the Institute of International Education (ITE).
The Office of Homeland Security says there are over 1.2 million international students in the USA, including those in high school and other special institutions.
Debra Yarde, who is seeking to organize prayer events on all 3500 colleges and universities in the USA, feels these students represent a special spiritual obligation for American Christians.
The number of students enrolled at colleges and universities continues to climb, with the largest increase coming from India. China sent 328,547 students and remains the largest single student block followed by Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Debra Yarde, President of Operation Esther Prayer Circle, is leading two other local prayer meetings during the day. One will be held at noon outside the Christian Study Center and then she ends the day at the Overseas Students Mission on Ivy Road at 5:30 PM. Yarde also helps local community groups and churches at nearby universities and community colleges in Harrisonburg, Orange and Richmond. She helped organize the Operation Ester Prayer Circle to reach out to international students, refugees, and foreign visitors after the ISIS Jihad against Christians and other minorities began.
“There is the best way I know to show we care and to reach out to the social and spiritual needs of the world. Praying for and welcoming these visitors is a tangible way we can show our love – especially for Hindus, Muslims, secularists and other minorities who are threatened by fanatics like ISIS and Islamic Jihad.” Most of those organizing the International Students Day of Prayer are members of the Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals which includes campus ministries such as Bridges International, Cai Alpha, International Friendships, Inc., International Friends Meet, International Students, Inc., InterVarsity ISM, Overseas Students Mission and hundreds of local churches.
Photo captions: 1) New international students on a US campus. 2) Debra Yarde. 3) Bill Bray.
About the writer: Bill Bray, 69, is an author and journalist who specializes in Christian missions, international student and university ministries. He welcomes interaction with our readers about the topics he covers and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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