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Gaining “access” to a new community

When missionaries enter a new country, it takes a while before they feel like they have access to their new community. They can walk around and observe and meet people casually, but they would prefer more meaningful engagement opportunities so they can really start to experience the culture and establish some friendships. They are looking for opportunities to enter the daily rhythms and lives of their new neighbors.

In many countries, English clubs (sometimes called “English corners”) provide a great opportunity to do just that. Students and young professionals are often seeking opportunities to practice their English with other English speakers, so they visit ESL cafes or English corners at their school. 

Our ministry team in SE Asia had the great idea to start their own. Here’s what Jed L. wrote in his recent newsletter:

“Here are some pictures of the English club that we started together. We invite friends and former students to come practice their English while making new connections and friends.  It is completely free, and Carina graciously opens her home so we can have this club. We have discussion questions, games, songs, and at the very end, we share a Bible story. Recently, we have been going through parables and discussing them. This has been an awesome development in the field, and I pray we continue to have a strong turnout for this event.

I will share a quick story about my friend Giang. He is a typical young [Asian] guy who moved from his hometown to work in the city. However, while living here, he was quite lonely and struggled to make friends; his interests never seemed to help him make connections. One thing he does regularly is go to an English club, where I ended up meeting him. He outright told me he doesn’t have any friends, and I told him that I would love to be his friend. He is a busy guy, so it was hard to reach out and spend time with him, but I invited him to our club.

He noted after only coming to two clubs that he has never felt so welcomed and open. 

He really enjoyed the Bible lessons as well because he only knew Jesus as some Christian teacher, rather than God. Recently, he has had illness in his family, and he actually had to quit his job and move back to his home to take care of his family. I ask each of you to pray for Giang as he struggles during this time.”

Events like English clubs help to foster these beautiful new relationships. Please keep Giang and all of these friends in your prayers. The fields are ripe and the harvest is waiting!



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