Monday, 25 September 2017
by Mike Wilson, SIM Australia Church Engagement Coordinator
You’ve met the highly-qualified, highly-experienced migrant whose lack of English-speaking ability forces them to take a low-skilled job. Then there’s the humiliation of the migrant parent who depends on the translation-ability of a child to communicate. How would you feel if you couldn’t go to the doctor by yourself? Perhaps you want to go to church but you can’t understand what is being said?
You can understand then, why many migrants experience profound loneliness and a sense of isolation. Many greatly appreciate the love and care they experience when they come to church-run ESL (English as a Second Language) conversation classes. Significant numbers of migrants have come to know and love our Lord as a result of the friendships they have formed and the input they’ve received in such classes.
Jenny*, from mainland China, was attending a suburban church ESL class. After the lesson, other members of the class approached the teacher and told her that Jenny was very distressed. They were able to translate enough to understand that Jenny’s marriage was teetering on the brink. The teacher introduced Jenny to a Mandarin-speaking Chinese leader in her own church. He and his wife met with Jenny and her husband. The marriage was saved and Jenny has subsequently come to know the Lord.
ESL ministry is an outreach activity most churches are well able to offer. It only requires a few volunteers. They don’t need special qualifications, just a heart to serve people with needs like Jenny and a readiness to be trained. These days there are an abundance of ESL resources available to help.
With over 125 years of experience in cross-cultural mission, SIM is passionate about working alongside local churches to help broaden their influence and vision for global mission. A SIM representative is available to meet with you and discuss how to start or strengthen ministries such as ESL to share the Gospel across cultures.
*Name changed to protect identity
SIM Australia's Church Engagement Coordinator, has recently made his resource "Whoever does not Speak English Well" available to download for free. This booklet would be invaluable for anyone interested or involved in ESL ministry in Australia.
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