Do you remember R, from Joshua Yu’s article ‘Taking Faith Home’ (https://gradsfund.org/taking-faith-home/)?
‘His Christian faith was despised by his colleagues, friends and family members. His view on life was increasingly led towards the pursuit of career and family. […] His career development was hindered as he refused to become a communist.’
As R’s story shows, work is the arena for many cultural challenges facing international students. High family expectations of a prosperous career add pressure. So eufocus’ Express Love Bible study groups are considering ‘Work’ this semester, seeking to integrate work with discipleship, so that work is an expression of Christ’s Lordship, not a parallel adjunct to faith. We’re tracing the story of work from noble responsibility and good gift of our Creator to care for His world, through cursed, toilsome labour as creation groans under the burden of our sinful disobedience, to redemption along with ‘all things’ by the blood of Christ’s cross.
One significant challenge is untangling deeply-rooted cultural expectations. In many Asian cultures personal and family prestige is ascribed to people in prominent positions in prestigious companies. Parents expect academic achievement and career success as a return on their investment in international higher education, forging strong links between performance and self-worth. One Chinese student was so impressed by a second-hand KPMG business folder I was using as it represented the position he longed for, the life he craved. But as students see the liberating power of God’s grace in Christ, we pray that it frees them to work not to secure identity and family honour and approval, but as members of communities whose work God uses to care for His creation and people. These ‘communities of care’ witness to God’s kingdom, the ultimate community of care, God’s people reconciled to Himself by Christ’s blood.
Please pray that international students take on this vision for work in God’s world.