ESL Conference trains more than 80 church laypeople to reach their neighbors.

By March 22, 2005

USA (MNN) — More than 80 people were empowered to reach their non-English-speaking neighbors at Cornerstone University’s ESL conference this weekend.

Conference speaker, Wally Cirafesi is the Director of the TESL program at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago: “I think that we need to take it as a stewardship issue, that the Lord has given us English. And use that as an opportunity, particularly, to build relationships with people, meet their needs, and help them know what it is to know Christ.”

There’s a huge need for English teachers, says Cirafesi, and it’s a great ministry opportunity both at home and abroad. “The interest in learning English around the world will never be met by professionals alone. This conference is designed to train laypeople to do it. And so we need to train thousands upon thousands of laypeople that can work in all kinds of informal ministries to teach English.”

Cirafesi has developed the ESL curriculum called “English in Action” targeted to reach beginner English-speakers. He encouraged conference participants that ESL teaching should be conversational and to build relationships, “It’s a great way to get laypeople involved-connected-in relationships with people, in a way that they can meet a need, become a friend, and then eventually share the Gospel.”

The conference training multiplies not only linguistically, but also relationally and spiritually. Julie George also spoke at the conference. She is with Global Connections, based in Bowling Green, Ohio. She says, “We have more and more international visitors coming to our country. And they’re all around. The value of teaching English as a second language is first of all, a chance to be used by God in somebody’s life, and second of all, perhaps a chance for Him to use the English language so that they can hear the Gospel.”

Dr. Michael Pasquale of Cornerstone University was pleased with the conference turnout and the resources that attendees were made aware of for their ESL outreaches. “I see ESL as definitely building bridges and relationships and it’s meeting needs, and we see that so often that people want to know English, and so we’re building relationships with people and churches want to know how to just reach out to those just living around them, and this is a great way. And we’re giving them practical ideas for implementing this.”

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