The world has become “global village” and a large number of young people are “global nomads” who roam about crossing national boundaries with ease.  Modern young people seeking upward mobility are ready to cross national borders.  In that process they are willing to adopt new culture, eating habits and work culture. There is a passion for travel and economic independence that drives the youngsters to seek opportunities for education in various International Universities.

The quest for knowledge attracted students from far and wide to worldclass universities around the world.  Today the quest is not just for knowledge but for skills that offers economic prosperity, upward mobility and comfortable life. 

This is a classical statistics from India.  The students who went from Indian in the year 2000 to various countries are: US 42,337, UK 5,000; Australia 11, 280; Germany 846 and France 1,100.  66,836 Indian students went to US in the last academic year of 2001-2002.  In the past five years their numbers have almost doubled.   There are students from other nationalities also moving around the world to have education.  Students from several countries like China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Korea, Japan, are in Western Universities seeking higher education.  The students from Africa are also moving for greener pastures in the West and some times they travel East also to universities in India.  There are students from Kenya, Saudi Arabia doing their studies in Indian universities.  Countries that are closed for the gospel have their students in several countries where there is freedom to share the gospel. 

II Great Commission and students

Historically speaking the student movement in the West gave a flip to global missions in the 19th and 20th century.  Young students committed their lives to go to unreached regions around the world and they pioneered in unchartered areas with faith and dedication.  And their labours were rewarded and we have churches in almost all countries of the world.  But most of them came as career missionaries. 

Now with the increasing younger population, the quest for higher education that is passport for comfortable life has unveiled a global drama of global mobility.  Students have become ‘global nomads’ increasingly finding new ways to get higher education.  The number of students who would be moving into world class universities would steadily increase.

In the 21st Century the elite, influential, powerful in the two-third world send the future leaders of community to world class universities for education.  The cream of unreached is or the emerging influencers of the communities are in universities preparing themselves for their leadership roles in their respective countries.  While Christians in Western universities were the nucleus for the missionary sending movement around the world, the 21st century education centres have become needy mission fields in the world.  Many universities are multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic reflecting a globalized world. 

Reaching students in these universities is going to be a greatest challenge in the context of completing Great Commission task in our own generation. 

III Strategy for reaching global student community

The local churches where the universities are seats of higher learning are located have a role in fulfilling the Great Commission in reaching the students.  But they may not be able to do it by themselves as the ministries would be complex with cultural, linguistic and ethnic aspects are barriers.  The local churches may not have enough people who have the capacity to share the gospel among each and every group represented in the university.  So, there is a need for the churches from the people groups or communities among whom the students come from also have a role.  These churches should be able to keep track of their community youngsters, their aspirations and migration patterns.  Then these churches could partner with the overseas local churches and reach the university students. 

The vital link in this process would be “Student missionaries”.  Student missionaries are students who desire to pursue the higher education in a distant land while sensing a call to be a missionary during the student days to reach out to fellow students from his/her own community pursuing education over there.  A Christian student from Sri Lanka decides to study in Philipinnes and at the same time senses a call to reach out to students from Sri Lanka studying in the university where he studies and reach out to other Sri Lankan students. 

The local churches from various communities should prepare young people with a vision of reaching fellow students in far off universities.  These students could be commissioned by the local church and may be linked with the local church where the university is located.  Academically the student is linked with the university, in spiritual and ministerial aspects is connected with the home church and a local church near the university.  The home Church is the commissioning church while the local church provides pastoral care for the students. 

There could be people groups among whom it is difficult to find Christians.  In that case there is a need for Student missionaries who have a call to reach students of different ethnic groups, which is another daunting task.  For example, there is no reported Christian presence in Maldives.  But there are students from Maldives pursuing education in several universities.  Reaching these students would be the task of specialized student missionaries.

 *India Today 4 June 2004 p. 67-68.
 **The Week 8 December 2002, P.10.