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News / Thoughts

Central Asia: Using the Bible to teach English!

September 17, 2018

How do you tell young people about Jesus when Christian activity is increasingly being outlawed? This was the challenge facing Pastor Emir and leaders of his church in Central Asia. Pastor Emir and his team prayed and discussed for several months, and the answer came. It was simple, but very effective.

What was your new idea and how did you come to it?

Because the growing restrictions from Central Asian governments for Christian missionary activities for youth and children, the danger is also growing. So we have to be creative. We were searching for new ways of evangelising to Muslim youth – my team and I were thinking and praying about. Why youth? Because children, teenagers and young people are our future vanguard. We don’t want to lose this generation for the Kingdom of God. The idea came from Open Doors literature project, to involve Muslim youth in reading the Bible. As we received new Russian-English Bibles for children, we decided to organize an English club.

What does an English club look like?

Four churches organised these English club meetings and invited different people, children, teenagers (and even grownups), Christians and their Muslim friends, relatives and neighbors. They simply learn English reading a Russian-English Bible, translating, comparing the translations, learning new English words and discussing the translations. All members of the club have homework – read and translate texts from the English Bible.

Why English classes, how can English help to touch people’s hearts with the Gospel?

Obviously, it is rather difficult to attract people to think about spiritual issues, but learning English is interesting for everybody. Many times we invited our neighbors and their teenage children but they refused. Then we invited them to this English club and they came. Now we have about 30 children, teenagers and young people. And they are glad to learn it – although before they were afraid even to say the word “Bible”, because in Muslim mentality reading the Bible is like betraying their faith. But, learning English is a good motivation.

An English club is a relatively safe programme for us as a church. According to the government state code we can’t legally teach youth and children the Bible, but teaching language is not prohibited.

Has anyone become a Christian through this club?

Last month 5 new teenagers came to the club meeting, one of them was Rahat a teenager from a Muslim family (Rahat means ‘happiness” in Arabic). Initially he was embarrassed and timid. He began to read the Bible and to learn English. He was interested and wanted to know more and more about the Scriptures and Christianity. Now he reads the Russian Bible too. Three weeks ago he came to Sunday service and then said to his mother that he wants to visit our church every week: “I like the church, like Isa Massih (Jesus). He is kind and loves everybody. I like the people in church; they are also kind and joyful like Isa”, he said.

Then Rahat’s Mom, Indira, came to our church and said that she is happy to let her son visit the Sunday services and English club. Because teenagers can’t visit a church without their parents, she even wrote a letter of permission that said her son can visit the church with her neighbor – a Christian woman from our church – if Indira would be too busy to come with Rahat herself. Indira also has a younger son and daughter and she is going to bring them to church and the club as well. It is so an encouraging testimony how people find Jesus through English classes!

What are the plans for the future of the club?

God is great and very creative, and He inspires us to be creative too. The idea, that seemed strange in the beginning, turned to be very successful in preaching the Gospel among Muslim youth and teenagers. And it also influences their parents too. So, the English Bible became a very helpful tool for preaching the Gospel among Muslims through the English club. We keep working with this unique Russian-English Bible in our English club, to reach the young people with the Gospel.

We pray and expect that the club will grow and help more young Muslim to learn about the Bible and to meet Isa Massih as their Saviour.

Pray now…

  • Pray for Pastor Emir and other leaders as they continue to find ways to share Jesus in increasingly restrictive environments
  • Pray for protection for the groups and that many would come to know Jesus through reading God’s Word
  • Pray for Rahat, his mum Indira and his brother and sister as they begin to go to church. Ask that they would come to know Jesus and draw many others to him!

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