English clubs bear spiritual fruit

By August 12, 2015
(Photo courtesy of Reach Beyond)

(Photo courtesy of Reach Beyond)

International (MNN) — What’s the best way to share Christ with those who don’t speak your language?

If you’re involved with Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Clubs, you do it in plain English.

Started in Quito, Ecuador in 2003, the clubs are an informal study session for those trying to learn English, as well as a casual way to discuss spiritual topics. Janine Rembas, a missionary with Reach Beyond who is heavily involved in the clubs, explains: “It’s based off of an audio program broadcast on the radio spoken at 90 words per minute for those people learning English…. What we do in a club is we listen to that audio program, and the English learner reads along on a script.

“Then, we break into small groups, and the Christian English speaker guides them in conversation. And through that conversation, they get to know them, they get to share more and more with them, build relationships, and ultimately share more of Christ’s love with them.”

With 59 local in-person clubs and 28 online Skype clubs spread across 20 countries, there are plenty of opportunities to participate. But while many are excited to learn a new language, Rembas says they are usually less excited to hear about God.

“They don’t come because they’re spiritually open,” she says. “They come because they want to learn English.”

So where does the Gospel come in? Rembas says about 20% of the radio lessons contain references to God, Jesus, or some other facet of Christianity. The rest of them, however, may have no mention of Jesus or God, but are designed to open doors for spiritual conversation.

“We have a program called Fireworks: A Global Celebration. And in that program, it’s simply reporting the history of fireworks,” Rembas says. “But it does mention in India and China, people blow off fireworks to scare away evil spirits. So in a club, a Christian English teacher can ask the question, ‘So what do you believe about evil spirits?’

“Then as they build relationships, they might use that same question from their own perspective, [saying] ‘I believe in evil spirits, too, but I also am a Christian. I believe in the God of all creation. He’s more powerful than all evil spirits, so I don’t live in fear.'”

Though some might not be immediately open to the Gospel, the impact it’s having is evident. In fact, Rembas says she saw God working in her very first class.

“A [man] came to me and said he had grown up in the church, but he’d seen so much hypocrisy and corruption, and could I share with him the path to God. We sat down with a Spanish English Bible and a Spanish English dictionary, and about three-and-a-half hours later he said, ‘Ah, I want to be a disciple of Jesus.'”

Not only are English Conversation Clubs teaching new skills, they’re changing lives. But if they are to continue making an impact, they need your help.

There are currently 360 people waiting to learn English over Skype. If you’re fluent in English and have internet access, you can teach them from the comfort of your own home!

Reach Beyond is also looking for people to write specialized scripts, voice the radio programs, and develop the website. Click here to learn more, or e-mail Janine directly at [email protected] with your questions.


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