Recently it has been our privilege to visit Australia and New Zealand in the service of the CBM and to share with our brethren and sisters the news of wonderful growth which is taking place in East Africa and Malawi in particular. It was also instructive to see other ways of witnessing which are developing in Australia and New Zealand. Especially interesting was the work which is being undertaken amongst immigrant communities such as the Chinese. Such groups of people, coming to a new country, are severely disadvantaged. They have to struggle with a foreign language, English, have few friends and little understanding of the ways of their new country of residence.

These are the very elements which are being supplied by efforts to teach them about the gospel. They are being taught English through the Bible. The courses offered openly advertise that this is what it will be, and so they have come. Between 25 and 40 course members regularly attend together with children. The evenings take the form of an initial input of Bible teaching, explained with both an eye to the English and to making important Bible truths clear. After this there follows group teaching where individual levels can be catered for. Any translations needed come from the course members themselves. The students have access to Bibles both in their mother tongue and in English. There is also provision for children to have “Sunday School lessons” whilst their parents are involved
in the group work.

All this is labour intensive. There are two main tutors  and often two tutors to each group of about six students. There is a task for everyone including making refreshments. For this reason, sometimes this work takes place on a Sunday evening, those members of the ecclesia not directly involved in the “English” teaching being able to meet together for Bible Reading Group activities which would of course provide for the needs of other interested friends.

Other, more social, occasions are also arranged so that relationships can be developed with any members of the ecclesia not directly involved. Although the work is still in its infancy there have already been baptisms and plans for further developments. Interestingly after the initial advertising there has been little need for repetition. The courses are kept going largely by word of mouth. As we watched this activity taking place we realised that throughout the UK (and elsewhere) there are immigrant communities, asylum seekers trying to learn our language, understand the country in which they now live and make new friends. As well as a mission field abroad we have one on our doorsteps. Surely it would be possible for us to teach them to read, write and speak English, through teaching them the Bible’s message. After all, many of our forefathers in the Truth were also educated in this way.

May our Heavenly Father bless our efforts to witness to the gospel in these last days.

Sincerely your brother by grace,

DAVID NIGHTINGALE
Barton-under-Needwood

– The Christadelphian (December, 2001)