Yeah!! You are reading this because you want to invite or you have invited internationals over for Thanksgiving. Yes and amen!!
Earlier this week I shared my fun and joy-filled story of spending part of Thanksgiving with internationals. Today we are talking about what it looks like to host internationals in your Thanksgiving festivities.
Maybe you volunteer with ESL classes or a college ministry and you already have friendships with international students. Great! Invite them over! If not, call a trusted, Christian organization on a nearby campus like Cru or International Students Inc and ask if there are any international students that would like to have a traditional meal in your home for dinner. Based on the need, I would assume the answer will be a resounding YES! How many?? If you have a hard time reaching these organizations, email us and we would love to help!
You do not have to channel your inner Martha Stewart to host a party. Putting a bright tablecloth, some fun cloth napkins, and conversation starters will be just fine. Remember hospitality is all about serving and how people feel in your home- not primarily about how your home looks.
Email your group ahead of time with your address, the time they can come over and the time the meal will be served. It's also nice to ask if there are any dietary restrictions. Some religions prohibit pork or anything non-kosher, and as Christians we don’t want anything to hinder someone feeling welcome in our home. Think pasta salad not ham salad (also, ham salad is a little 1970, maybe don’t ever serve that anyway).
Be mindful and grace-filled but not fearful about offending someone from another culture. The students I know would expect that you do not know about their culture and will show respect because they are entering your home. Ask questions like the 5 f’s and have the posture of a learner. The 5 f’s also easily transition to sharing your faith. Speaking of...
Share your faith in some way or several ways that night. They will assume you are not religious or that your religion isn’t important to you if you do not. One thing that I love about internationals: they love to talk about religion and politics. Americans are SO not that way. It is refreshing and makes it easy- not offensive- for you to share your faith.
One of my husband’s favorite Gospel tools is called the 3 Circles. We'll be sharing this resource later. When we do, I highly encourage you to watch it, practice saying it, and share it as everyone is eating dessert. If they ask a question that you cannot answer, compliment them! “Thank you so much for listening to my story. I can tell you were listening and thinking because you asked me a question. Can I buy you a cup of coffee next week and answer that for you?”
What if international students who are here for 4-6 years hear the Gospel clearly in our homes before returning to a country where they may never have a chance to hear about Jesus’s love? What if they become believers and return to their countries not only as engineers, doctors and researchers but primarily as disciplemakers? What if their neighbor and co-worker becomes a believer through having a meal and hearing their story after work one day? What if the seed from your simple meal led to fruit that was 30, 60 even a 100 fold?
I’m praying Matthew 13:8 for my table and for yours: “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” - Amy