Why would Ryan*, a married father of twins with a marketable computer degree, a full-time job and grandparents on hand to provide free babysitting decide to move to the West African nation of Niger? The decision is unusual when you consider that Ryan has achieved the “American Dream”; he worked hard in high school, got into a good college, graduated with a degree, was hired at a high-paying job, married a great wife, has cute kids – everything is in place for an easy, comfortable life. Why would he throw that all away?!?

Matt 28:19-20 states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“All nations” was the phrase that grabbed hold of Ryan. As a college student, Ryan was intentional with the relationship choices he made. Some of his closest friends were students from Muslim majority nations. These friends were not afraid to discuss religion, and Ryan joined right in, talking about faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by our good works. Ryan’s love for the Lord and his love for his friends drove him to study Islam and the Bible in order to know how to answer the questions others were asking. God used relationships in a state university computer science department to direct Ryan into full-time international missions in a majority Muslim country.   

When we authentically open the circle of our friendships, God will work in us and through us. Our cultural perspective will change as “those people” become “my friends” who are made in the image of God.

Who are your friends? Do they all look like you and believe the same way you do? If so, pray that God will open your eyes to the nations He has brought to us. Be intentional with those you spend your time with! Look for people who are different from you and take a relational step towards them. Get to know them for who they are, and as you do life with them, talk about what is important to you - share the hope you have in Christ!

*His name has been changed due to the sensitive nature of his ministry.

Dan Sterken
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
U of M International Staff