Asian Christian international student graduates (henceforth, Asian Christian students) from Australian universities are an under-researched group in Asian studies and World Christianity. Specifically, some graduates who participated in Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF), the oldest international student Christian ministry in Australia, have played significant roles in raising the profile of Christianity in their home societies since the 1960s. Therefore, this study examines OCF’s formative years from 1959 to 1979. It proposes that the pioneering batches of OCF students—mainly from Southeast Asia—constructed a Christian vision for Asia which expressed their concerns of being transient religious international students who saw the need to evangelise their home countries. This was encapsulated in OCF’s vision ‘Reach Out, Build Up, Send Back’. I suggest that this vision was constructed in three ways. The first involved the confluence of interests between specific Australian evangelicals and Asian Christian students to ‘reach out’ to the growing numbers of migrant Asian students since the late 1950s. The second way was the creation of an independent nation-wide OCF entity that would direct the ‘building up’ of Asian Christian students with a robust evangelical faith, while developing co-equal partnerships with Australian evangelicals to assist in the process. The third way was the intentional cultivation of a developmentalist transnational faith-based perspective which stressed the imperative for Asian Christian students to be ‘sent back’ to serve their home societies with their Australian-derived skillsets and evangelical faith. In sum, a novel, contextually-shaped faith-based transnational imaginary emerged through international student experiences within the Southern hemisphere.
|17 Feb 2023 → 18 Feb 2023
|Association for Asian Studies 2023 Annual Conference
|Degree of Recognition