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Transforming Ministries into Movements to Finish the Finishables.

Ministries to Movements series.

by Dr. Ria Llanto Martin

Campus Ministries, Beyond the Walls of the University.  


Many campus ministries view the university as a harvest field, and a very strategic one. History tells us several reasons why it is a strategic harvest field: it is where the leaders of nations converge and major movements, whether spiritual awakening or political revolution, begin.

Religious Society is one of the earliest records of an organized student-led group, started by Henry Scougal (1650-1678) in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was only 15 years old at the time. His most significant contribution was the devotional book, “The Life of God in the Soul of Man,” which became the primary devotional for his students, leading to the formation of the Holy Club in Oxford. The Holy Club, with only 27 members, produced some of the most influential missionaries in the 17th Century, including John (1703-1791) and Charles (1707-1788) Wesley, who founded Methodism in 1729, and George Whitefield (1714-1770), who later paved the way for the revival in Britain that affected 13 colonies. John Gambold (1711-1771) became a Moravian bishop, John Clayton (1709-1773) became a distinguished Anglican churchman, James Harvey (1714-1758) became a noted religious writer, Benjamin Ingham (1712-1772) became a Yorkshire evangelist, and Thomas Broughman (1712-1772) became the secretary of the Society of Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK). Count Zinzendorf (1700-1760) became the leader of the Moravian missions, considered one of the most significant missionary movements in the 18th century.[1]

What started as a small group turned into a movement whose impact lasted beyond the university walls and crossed the geographical borders. They desired to see His Kingdom come in the places of the unknown, and often they did not even know if they would be able to ever come back home. This is the legacy of the campus ministries from the 17th to 20th centuries. I do not have the time to talk about the Daily Prayer Meetings, the Adelphi Theologia in Harvard, the Moral Society at Yale, the Rising Sun in Williams, the Haystack Prayer Meetings, or the phenomenal growth of the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM), whose major contribution was

the shift of missionaries sent out from Europe to North America. SVM laid out the groundwork for the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910, which paved the way for the ecumenical movement in the second half of the century.[2]

World Missions from Home

John Mott delivered a speech at the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, entitled “Carrying the Gospel to All the Non-Christian World,” a vision from America outward to other nations. Leiton Chinn claims the vision of the International Student Ministries (ISM) started in the early 20th century when John Mott launched the “first national Christian service ministry for international students, called the Committee on Friendly Relations Among Foreign Students or CFR.”[3] International Student Ministries believes in the missional opportunities it presents in their host country. They believe it is strategic, able to participate in world missions at home, and develops cross-cultural friendships through hospitality. The expansion of the ISM in North America post WWII birthed a momentous increase of International Student Ministries [4] across the globe, such as: Ambassadors for Christ, Bridges International, Navigators, the Association of Christian Ministering among Internationals, Lausanne ISM, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Europe, and ISM expansion in South Africa and the Asia-Pacific. In 1911, there were only 4,856 foreign students in the United States, and a century later, there were over 700,000.[5] In 2019, over one million international students enrolled on United States college campuses. ISM saw the critical window of reaching the unreached people groups (UPG) right in their neighborhood.

More than a hundred years later, since the birth of ISM in 1911, how many unreached people groups (UPGs) have moved into a reached people group, thriving and impacting the community and their nation for Christ’s glory? Moreso, how does the engagement of international students in the United States, for instance, equip and empower them to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to their home country? Are you tired of seeing faded and frayed faith as soon as the internationals return home and never hearing back from them again? Have you noticed many failed attempts and efforts to connect the international students to a church or Christians “we” know, only to realize that this methodology does not work for relational cultures?

What is next for international student ministries?

I long to see another movement. Do you?

From Ministries to Movements

In this era of globalization, campus ministries and international student ministries recognize the missional impact not just locally but globally. Oxford University reports that “student mobility is shifting from a largely unidirectional east-west flow to a multidirectional movement encompassing non-traditional sending and host countries. International education is becoming polycentric, and global campuses are becoming a worldwide phenomenon.”[6]

My engagement with international students is through Intercultural Campus Ministry (ICM).[7] Intercultural Campus Ministry is “integrating local and international students into one local campus ministry,”[8] and sees international and local students as equal partners in their participation in the mission. Stacey[9] (China), Loretta (Ghana), and Tikhala (Malawi) are a few of the international students I met through our ICM. One met the Lord through our ministry here in Seattle, while two of them were Christians looking for a church in America. One of them became the club president of our ministry at her university. They were actively involved in our ministry here in Seattle, and I long to see them thrive in their home country. I want to see them empowered and fully supported when they are ready to start a missional community right where they are. So we keep in touch.

One misconception I witness when engaging with international students is the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. When they move geographically, we lose touch. This should not be the case. If there is one thing we have learned during this pandemic, it’s that we are capable of keeping and rekindling our relationships despite distance. This is an integral part of the mission to see what is next for ISM. We must see the advantages of globalization, or should I say glocalization, in missions–the strengthening of both local and global missions simultaneously.


What is Next for ISM?  

ICM is a type of diaspora mission Wan describes as, “unlike the popular missiology which has a strong distinction between outreach locally (called ‘evangelism’) and internationally (called ‘mission’), in diaspora missiology, there are no territorial distinction; rather integrated ‘glocal missions.’”[10]  In my previous work, I quoted Bob Roberts Jr. on Glocalization. The glocal mission has its roots in Acts 1:8, where Jesus states, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NIV).


Roberts commented on the state of the modern church:

“We have interpreted it to mean the very opposite of a globally connected world. Our premise has been this: First, we build a strong and big church here. Second, when we’re big and strong, we go to our whole country. Third, we go to those near us when we’ve reached our country — maybe Canada or Mexico. Finally, when we’re really strong, we take on the world! Even if it’s not explicitly said that way, it is what is practiced. This is not how the church worked in Acts, nor is it the way the world will be transformed for Christ. Acts 1:8 describes glocal in action. This passage was not describing the one-two-three steps but the dimensions in which the church must be working at all times. It wasn’t determining the sequence, but the spheres. This is fascinating because it is exactly what the world has become two thousand years later! The local and the global have come together at many different dimensions.”[11]

At Kwiverr, we partner with the movement of God and are sensitive to what He is doing among us and beyond us. We want to see what God wants us to see, missional multiplication where Christ’s name is written all over it. We move beyond what we can calculate because the Holy Spirit revival is boundless.

ICM sees the empowerment of local and global missions, and it is a partnership. In my previous work, I quote, “In glocal missions, every believer is a missionary, and that makes ICM, the partnership between the West (local) and the Majority World (global) become phenomenal and exponential.”[12] ICM’s impacts are local, where we are, and global, in the homes of returnees.

In conclusion, Roberts quotes Gupta, president of the Hindustan Bible Institute and College in India, on “Global Trends that Influence the Practice of Partnership with Indigenous Mission”:

“We still do missions as we did it two hundred and fifty years ago. We want to learn a language; we want to send our missionaries to plant churches; we ignore the presence of an indigenous church movement, the restrictions of nations… The world outside the church is telling us, if we are going to get the bottom line to have its highest return, we must move from the paradigm of independence to interdependence… Missions in the context of globalization must understand that there is greater leverage in building synergy than establishing our banners. It is amazing how secular organizations have understood the concept and developed partnerships that have brought great dividends to their companies… It’s time to stop establishing our identity and begin to bring our resources together and work together in the context of interdependence. We must find ways to enter nations from all sides and with every opportunity; we should let the values of the scripture speak through us so that the lost are reached and discipled into the kingdom of God.”[13]

Here are my last thoughts: while the global north will continue to be the top academic institution choice of international students, more and more international students are looking at returning home. UC Berkeley studies show, “Foreign students have a sense that the United States is closing down as a land of opportunity,” said Saxenian, author of the book “The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy” (2006) and a landmark report, “Local and Global

Networks of Immigrant Professionals in Silicon Valley,” published in 2002 for the Public Policy Institute of California.

Kaufman’s study revealed some of its key findings:[14]

  •       Approximately 74 percent of Chinese students and 86 percent of Indian students said their home countries’ economies would grow faster in the future than they have in the past decade.
  •       Most foreign students said innovation would occur faster over the next 25 years in India and China than in the United States.
  •       Some 76 percent of Chinese students and almost 84 percent of Indian students said it would be difficult to find a job in their field in the United States.
  •       While 58 percent of Indian, 54 percent of Chinese and 40 percent of European students want to stay in the United States for a few years after graduation, only 6 percent of Indian students, 10 percent of Chinese students and 15 percent of European students said they wanted to remain permanently.

This is our time.

We must answer this. Internationals and locals must partner together in missions as we embrace this era of globalization.

Our time is now.



[1] Keith Hunt and Gladys Hunt, For Christ and the University: The Story of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship of the USA – 1940-1990 (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 1991), 29.

[2] See, “The Kingdom of Character: The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, 1886-1926” by Michael Parker.  

[3] See chapter seven by Leiton Chinn’s chapter on “The Global ISM Movement Emerging From Diaspora Missions on Campuses: From John R. Mott to Lausanne,”of Wan et al., Diaspora Missions to International Students (Western Seminary Press, 2019), 121.

[4] See chapter seven by Leiton Chinn’s chapter on “The Global ISM Movement Emerging From Diaspora Missions on Campuses: From John R. Mott to Lausanne,”of Wan et al., Diaspora Missions to International Students (Western Seminary Press, 2019) 119–138.

[5] See chapter seven by Leiton Chinn’s chapter on “The Global ISM Movement Emerging From Diaspora Missions on Campuses: From John R. Mott to Lausanne,”of Wan et al., Diaspora Missions to International Students (Western Seminary Press, 2019), 127.

[6] Alexander Best, “10 Reasons Why the Global Campus Is the Future of Mision,” Christianity Today, accessed July 29, 2019,

[7] See chapter seven of Ria Llanto Martin, “From the Philippines to the Global North: A Participatory Action Research on Intercultural Campus Ministry,” (DIS diss, Western Seminary, Portland, OR, 2020) paper copy.

[8] Martin, “From the Philippines to the Global North,” p. 8.

[9] Pseudonym

[10] Wan et al., Diaspora Missions to International Students, 30.

[11] Roberts Jr., 15.

[12] Martin, “From the Philippines to the Global World,” p. 168.

[13] Roberts Jr., 119.

[14] “03.19.2009 – U.S. Economy Spurs Foreign Students to Return Home, Study Says,” accessed February 14, 2022,

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