Dear Pastors and Ministry Leaders,
An ESL circle in Cambridge has blossomed into a Christianity Explored study through the ministry of Hespeler Baptist Church (Cambridge). This Fall HBC offered two tracks of Christianity Explored, one in the evening for English speaking participants and one in the afternoon for ESL students.
A midday ESL circle had been running out of the local library under the leadership of Linda Reed (Heritage College & Seminary), and there was a question if there might be sufficient interest to launch a Christianity Explored to give newcomers a place to practice their English and learn more about the Bible.
Up to eight women of Korean and Japanese descent have attended the afternoon session and, as you might imagine with an ESL group, most of the hurdles centred around the participants’ understanding of the English language.
Pastor Caleb Hall says, “If people don’t understand English, it’s difficult to know how much they are taking in. Is it the English language challenging their thinking, or is it the Gospel message? We can begin to wonder whether we have distilled it down sufficiently for them to comprehend the message, or perhaps we have distilled it down so much that it loses its impact. We’ve been learning to strike that balance through this group.”
Hespeler Baptist Church has invited a few church members to attend the Christianity Explored sessions so that these individuals can lead a Christianity Explored class in the future, build relationships with the current participants, and clarify the content for the class during discussion periods. One positive outcome of this kind of mentoring is that when a woman from the ESL group came to a Sunday morning baptism service, one of the church members from the course sat with her, quietly explaining the various elements of the service to her.
As HBC has facilitated these two tracks they have learned valuable lessons along the way, one of them being that they need to move slowly and go at the pace of the group. Some of the participants, in both the afternoon and evening groups, started out with what can only be described as intellectually irrelevant obstacles. There were strange questions and irrational fears about what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. But, as Pastor Caleb said, “The Word of God does the work of God. We see this happening before our eyes as the intellectually irrelevant obstacles are removed. Participants go from asking obscure, unrelated questions to asking questions about the Scriptures and the person/work of Jesus Christ. This is evidence of God at work through His Word.”
At FEB Central we’re encouraged by the number of churches who are reaching out to other people groups in order to share the saving message of Jesus Christ. The commission to “go into all the world” is seen in new light as so much of the world is moving right into our own neighbourhoods. Let’s be in prayer for churches like Hespeler Baptist Church and others who are thinking creatively about how to share God’s Word with newcomers.