And what one couple decided to do about it.

Years ago, an African student in the United States to attend college, asked for a drink of water. An American pointed him to a spittoon. The student was humiliated. He was Kwame Nkrumah, who rose to head the government of Ghana for 14 years.

Another African student received his military training at Aberdeen, Maryland. His experience here apparently did not endear Americans to him, for when Mengistu Haile Mariam took power in Ethiopia in 1977, he expelled Americans from his country.

Ironically, nine revolutionary leaders in China in the 1940s were introduced to communism while they were studying here. Most international students do not distinguish between Christianity, Americanism, and capitalism. Rejection of one leads to rejection of the others.

More than 311,000 international students from 184 countries are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. They present pastors and mission leaders with remarkable mission fields, and that fact is especially significant because among those 184 countries are those closed to Western missionaries. By entering the States, the students indirectly open locked doors. In addition, these students are among the most intelligent, highly educated, and influential in their countries.

International students, however, seldom find Americans friendly towards them. Stories of bitterness, mistreatment, and rejection abound.

Robert and Mary Taussig spent four years in Nigeria, where Robert, a professor of veterinary medicine, taught college. They met many Nigerian students bitter about their experiences in America. “I hate America. It has nothing to offer me,” said one student.

The Taussigs returned to Manhattan, Kansas, in the fall of 1976, and Bob Taussig resumed his teaching position at Kansas State University (KSU).

“We returned feeling very convinced that God was leading us to do something for international students,” said Taussig. “But we didn’t know what to do.” They obtained a list of names of international students and spent a year praying for each name.

What germinated was the conviction that the students’ social and cultural problems must be handled before spiritual needs can be addressed.

The Taussigs began by emphasizing personal friendship. “And by friendship,” Taussig said, “we mean something more than that which is casual. It has to have some depth and quality.”

Unexpected assistance helped launch the friendship program. Three American students who lived in basement rooms in the Taussig home became willing recruits when their hosts shared their ideas. The trio invited international students over for meals, visited them, helped them with their shopping, and with housing during breaks when dorms were closed.

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More volunteers soon joined them. The scope of their activities expanded to include Bible study and evangelistic meetings.

Objectives crystallized. This led, in the fall of 1978, to the formation of Helping International Students (HIS), a church-based community service organization. The Taussigs are HIS directors and now have more than 270 American helpers. More than half are from their congregation, Grace Baptist Church.

Chuan-Hsin Hsueh was a chemist doing research at Beijing College of Chemical Engineering, and is working on a doctorate in chemistry at KSU. He came alone; his wife and five children are in mainland China.

When he landed at Kansas City, Kansas, in February last year, he had only $30 in U.S. currency, and “a little English.” He took a bus to Manhattan, Kansas, as he could not afford a commuter plane, arriving at 9 P.M. Sensing that he was a stranger, a Christian approached him, found out his circumstances, and rang Taussig. The Taussigs took him in for the night.

Another KSU student who was a lecturer is Korean Nam-In Kim, 34. He taught crop physiology in South Korea. When he arrived on campus three years ago, he was single and not a Christian. He now has a Korean wife he met here, and a three-month-old boy. Baptized at Grace Baptist Church in September 1980, he is the only Christian in his family of seven.

Kim said, “He [Taussig] is the symbol of Christianity. When new students come to KSU and they need transportation, he has someone to pick them up. He helped me spiritually. When I stayed in the dorm, he visited me one night and gave me a book on Christian living.”

Grace Baptist Church figures prominently in HIS activities. When the pastor first gave Taussig pulpit time in the fall of 1978 to explain the HIS program and appeal for volunteers, 80 responded. Since then, appeals are made at the start of each semester.

Besides serving the community, the Taussigs feel that HIS helps stimulate the congregation to be missions minded, promote world awareness, and provide a training and support base for cross-cultural work. They believe that the local church, rather than parachurch organizations, should be the base for international student work. The church’s communal and family life, its manpower, and financial resources render it an ideal center.

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Nigerian students respond well to HIS. James Hassan, one of 120 Nigerian students at KSU, said, “Nigerian culture is very different from American culture. Back home I’m used to talking to anybody. But nobody cares about me here. I show a friendly face, but I get the impression that I’m not wanted. Some seem to say, ‘What business have you got with me?’ I’m referring to American students and adults alike.

“But I see a spirit of brotherhood in Dr. Taussig. They [the Taussigs] are among the people who care.”

Several training programs, workshops, and seminars have been designed to teach American volunteers cross-cultural principles of conversation and communication.

“The American is more of a problem to us than the international,” said Taussig. “The problem is with our narrow, provincial outlook, our Western culture that thinks that everything resides here. This even splinters off into the idea that Western Caucasian people are more intelligent, more sophisticated. It’s a type of Western blindness.”

Although HIS’s concepts and training materials developed independently of other international student ministries, the Taussigs now have ties with several organizations, including International Students and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Since these experiences, the Taussigs said they are grateful to God for the opportunity to go to 80 countries without leaving Manhattan, without needing a visa, and without learning a foreign language. KSU is a veritable mission field.

The Taussigs have seven children and 22 grandchildren. They look upon the international students as part of their extended family—their spiritual children.

Two verses guide them in their labors: “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him … love him as yourself” (Lev. 19:33–34).

LAWSON LAU in Manhattan, Kansas

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