English Club also teaches ABCs of life with Christ

Tags: Eurasia, Russia, Story

By Jenni M. in Tambov, Russia

While traveling through town, one of our language students met up with an international student who attends our church. Their conversation in English on a crowded Russian bus didn’t go unnoticed.

Discussions in English always draw a little attention in a town like Tambov, but this time one of the observers didn’t listen and then turn away. Nikolai had spent a summer in the United States several years before, and he was very eager to increase his English skills. He could tell by our worker's accent that she was a native speaker.

For someone like Nikolai, this was a golden opportunity. Our worker was only too happy to tell him about the English Club that meets at Spring of Life Church in Tambov.

Spring of Life Church is very busy on Friday nights. As many as 20 students from all walks of life show up around 6 p.m. to work on their English skills. Sergei, an orphan, studies at a local college. Because of his background, he didn’t study any English in school, so he is starting at the beginning. Gennady, a lawyer, wants to improve his English so that he can travel outside of Russia more easily. Volodya and Larisa found out about English Club from a work friend and have been there every week since.

All of these people — professionals, students, married, single, young and old — are unbelievers. Most never even knew there was a Baptist church in Tambov, much less visited it before English Club.

Jenni M. goes over the week's lesson at Spring of Life Church's English Club.

Learning a language isn’t easy. Amidst all the grammar rules, new vocabulary and sentence structure, friendships are born. After each lesson, tea and cookies are spread out on the table and the weary students can ask questions about English — or about anything, for that matter.

Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter provide special opportunities for the three global workers who lead the club to share the truth of Jesus Christ with many who would never come to church on a Sunday morning.

At first, Nikolai was a little shy about spending time around the table with a group of strangers. Slowly he opened up and accepted an invitation to come to the Easter service this spring. As we were getting ready to leave, I asked him what he thought. He said, “It’s like a big family.”

Nikolai now comes each week to a small group that studies the book of Mark on Tuesday nights. Sergei also started coming. Two other English Club participants attend church or another small group. And another English Club has started in a nearby town.

Teaching English is an opportunity to share the Good News with a wide variety of people. It is a bridge into the lives of people who might not hear the truth any other way. Praise God for the gift of a coveted language to share. Pray that these students would have ears to hear more than just English!