USA (MNN) — Believers may have a message to share with the world, but sometimes just shouting it to the masses isn't the best method. Most ministries provide other aid or services to serve God's image-bearers, but also to teach them about their worth in Christ.
One effective way of reaching people with the Word is actually by using something that anyone reading this knows: English.
A lot of immigrants to the U.S., or even citizens of other countries, want to learn English. Whether it's to move forward in their education in a foreign country, or to just get around easier in an English-speaking country, thousands of people are in need of English training. Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) can be an ideal opportunity to serve someone in need, provide a commodity they desire, build a relationship, and eventually spread the Gospel.
"You want to be able to share Good News with [people], but you have to have a point of contact. Because they want to learn English and you are able to deliver that service, you have a connection. Because you're teaching them English, you're able to form a relationship with them," says Karen See with CrossWorld.
At the 10th annual ESL Ministry Conference at Cornerstone University this past Saturday, ESL teachers, tutors, and others merely interested learned techniques on using ESL as a ministry in the U.S. or abroad.
One ESL program leader urged attendees in the need not only to teach English, but to truly try and understand their students to really create strong relationships. Diane Frank's program mainly works with Arab Muslim immigrants to the U.S.
"They are the fastest-growing immigrant community in America," noted Frank. "They are in elementary school and preschool all the way up through universities. So it's very important to help them integrate into American culture. But it's also important to understand–because their religion is so different–what their beliefs are so we can appropriately communicate with them."
In Frank's program, students learn how to speak English in fun and engaging ways, but more than just English is taught. "Another important part of learning is wisdom. And wisdom comes from God. We really wouldn't be true friends and teachers if we did not teach you God's wisdom. So that's also a part of our curriculum," says Frank.
Other organizations in attendance, like CrossWorld and English Language Institute China (ELIC), encouraged participants to consider teaching English abroad, building relationships with others all over the world. See noted that the very nature of an English class is relationship-building as conversation dominates the classes.
The conference served as a launching pad for many, and an encouragement for others. Most, like Joyce, left with one simple goal: "We want to build relationships."
Next year's conference will be held April 14. Keep up with www.cornerstone.edu/esl/ for updates.