Teaching English can be sound evangelism strategy
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY – The strategy of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is important within the overall scope of Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) partnerships, according to MBC Partnership Missions Specialist Norm Howell.
One immediate emphasis is to train Iraqi nationals who already know how to speak English how to teach a class to their countrymen.
“We could use this as an evangelistic tool for reaching them," Howell said.
North American Mission Board (NAMB) literacy associates in Missouri since 2000 have trained a total of 345 people in teaching ESL. Plans are being made to continue this effort.
“Our main purpose in literacy missions is to share Christ with our students through the teaching of the English or the adult reading and writing," said NAMB Literacy Associate Maryetta Dennis, who serves as a volunteer literacy consultant for the MBC. “People have accepted Christ through this.
“It’s a great blessing to work with students. You build lasting relationships with them. They are needing that friendship and fellowship with Americans.
Onesimus Mladin, general secretary for the Romania Baptist Union who is coordinating the day-to-day details of the Missouri Baptist-Romania Baptist partnership, said ESL would be a great vehicle in his homeland.
“We could be using this as an avenue to get into the universities where you would be able to go in and teach a one-day or two-day class where you are working mainly with unbelievers," Howell said.
“The work is too big for Missouri Baptist Convention staff to do. We are dependent on these volunteers and laymen to come in and help us, and they’re doing a tremendous job. We’re hoping that we can continue to reach more people in that way."
Tutoring Children and Youth (TCY) and Adult Reading and Writing (ARW) are additional programs that are being taught by Dennis and St. Louis literacy associates Jerry and Sherry Kinsey. So far since 2000, 22 have gone through TCY and 24 through ARW.
“In all of these areas you are building relationships with your students where eventually you can share Christ with them," Dennis said. “Sherry was teaching English to a plumber in her ARW class and he was teaching her about plumbing. You build relationships like that."
The next ESL class is scheduled for March 18-20 at First Baptist Church , Poplar Bluff .
“It’s just a great ministry that God’s given us," Dennis said. “God is bringing the world to us."
March 18, 2004