Serving in Student Ministries in Asia

Wednesday, 24 May 2023 Serving in Student Ministries in Asia In many countries in Asia, education is highly valued and one of the key ways seen to improve social status¹. Young people face pressure from family expectations and society as they try to achieve competitive results. Those who are unable to receive a quality education, may end up having a lower social status and limited job opportunities in their communities. Two of our mission workers share their experience serving in student ministries in Asia.

ESL Teaching
Matt and his wife Alisa have been serving in Chiang Mai, Thailand since 2016. Matt is co-directing an outreach ministry called ‘the Centre’, where he teaches English to university students. The Centre partners with local churches to create a community where young people attend classes and activities. This provides the opportunity for life and faith to be shared as relationships are built. 

Praying for where God would have them serve, Matt talked with SIM Thailand and heard about the ministry at the Centre. He said, “The Centre’s approach of using English as a means of helping people, building relationships and opening up opportunities to share our faith with them really excited me. It brought into alignment some of my skills, gifts and passions. God confirmed this was the right move for us, so we set out to Chiang Mai with SIM.”

Discipleship activities are very intentional at the Centre and Matt’s heart is to see students come to know Jesus and follow Him with their lives. Matt shared, “We give opportunities for students to hear and respond to the Gospel through personal relationships and events that we have at the Centre. We endeavour to connect them with a local church community or cell group as soon as possible. As the Spirit continues to work in their lives, they are discipled through the local church and some of our staff. We then encourage them to be involved in serving in the Centre, the local church and the wider community.”

It has been a blessing for Matt to see students he has connected with accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. However, sometimes the students move away before the team sees any fruit in their lives. “At this time, I feel sad that they weren’t ready to commit to following Jesus yet and worry that they’ll just drift away. But I know it’s not up to me and God continues to work in their hearts wherever they may be. It has been encouraging to hear from some students years later that they are going to church or have made a commitment to follow Jesus. God is good!” 

Matt is grateful that he can serve with his English teaching skills and be a part of the outreach and community at the Centre. To other teachers, Matt gave this encouragement, “There are so many ways to use teaching in the mission context wherever you are. It is a door opener. Pray that God will show you how you can use your gifts and passions to see the Kingdom grow.”

Equipping university students
Recently, Matt and three teachers at the Centre took seven students on an outreach trip. The province they visited is 12 hours away and there are very few believers and churches in the area. During the trip, the team had the opportunity to run English classes and fun activities for kids in primary and high school over two days. Praise God that over 320 students attended. 

Matt’s teammates planted a church in this province recently, so the outreach team utilised their visit to open up more opportunities for the church to connect with the school and families in this district. 

Matt and the group were also able to visit and pray for another ministry in the city centre that is working alongside a local church to perform outreach through a cafĂ© and English teaching. 

Matt shared, “It was amazing to see how God brought all the details of the trip together and seeing these university students (all at different stages in their faith journey), serving joyfully. Please continue to pray for God to grow the faith of the Centre students, for the kids from the school and their families, and for the growth of the church in this province."

Teaching at an International School
Families going overseas to serve a least reached community need a whole support system as they go. Recognising and responding to this need, SIM founded and partnered with schools around the world to provide excellent, Christ-centred education for our missionary children. Over time, God opened doors for these schools to include children from the expatriate and local communities, including children whose parents are world leaders, business professionals, NGO workers, and embassy staff. 

Tanya, who serves in Southeast Asia, teaches at an international school that mainly caters for children of missionaries. She is currently teaching a combination class of grade 1 and 2 students. By helping to provide quality education in places where our mission workers are serving, Tanya is helping our mission workers to stay longer on the field as the educational needs of their children are met.

Growing up as a missionary kid (MK) herself in Africa, Tanya felt God call her to work with missionary kids. As well as her skills as a teacher, Tanya remembers both the good and hard times she experienced as a child in a different culture and uses that to connect with her students. “I have always seen the need for teachers around the world to teach MKs and it just so happens that the two schools I have worked in so far have been in Asia,” she shared.

Tanya’s teaching highlight at her school is being able to incorporate her faith into the curriculum. “I love the daily interactions I have with the MKs I work with,” Tanya explained. “They love being at school and are eager to learn. It is a privilege to not only be a part of their academic life but also their spiritual life. I get to teach my grade 1 and 2s a Bible study every day and I get to bring God into all my lessons where I see a connection to be made. This uninterrupted access to God in all lessons is amazing and for the students to see God in all things is amazing too.”

Over the last few weeks, Tanya has had the privilege of witnessing a growth in confidence of one of her grade 1 students. “For lunch one day I sat down with the head of school, principal and business administrator and up came this grade 1 boy with his lunch. He smiled at the head of school, placed his food on the table and waited for the head of school to move over so he could fit. It was hilarious but also very touching to see this boy not care who he sat with. He then carried on a conversation with the four of us. I have seen him do this now a number of times and I just love seeing it!”

Serving as a teacher in missions since 2013 and witnessing many different seasons, Tanya leans on God to enable her in her ministry. She shared, “I keep persevering in working with MKs because God wants me to. I see the massive impact that not having teachers can have on mission workers deciding whether to remain in a country or not and so I want to do my part to make sure mission workers can keep doing what God has called them to do.”

Even through the trials, Tanya finds her work very rewarding and is happy to help fill the need for teachers in schools. She said, “You have no idea how desperate MK schools are to have good teachers come to teach. The school I am currently at has many vacancies for the next school year and this will be a common story amongst most, if not all, MK schools worldwide.”
GO: Do you have a heart to serve in missions with your teaching skills? Take the next step by speaking to a Mission Mobiliser by visiting

¹, 2014

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