Do you speak English???
Weekly we are thankful to God for the opportunity to hold elective English lessons for the students at the Peterfalva Reformed Lyceum, in the village where we live and work. The students receive English grammar and language lessons from a qualified English teacher, much in the same way that many of us learned Spanish in high school. The classes we offer provide an opportunity for students to speak with native English speakers and to put into practice what they are learning in the classroom. Our classes fall on Mondays and Tuesdays due to the already demanding schedule of the students. We have been amazed that each week between 40-60 students attend our 4 different classes. Each of the four grades, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th, have the opportunity to come for a 50-minute lesson in the afternoons and evenings with us. Most of the time we teach these classes together. At times, though, when we are taken in opposite directions by multiple commitments and/or opportunities, only one of us teaches the lesson.
Our lessons are not compulsory for the students. And, although the classes can be tiring at times due to the high (or sometimes, uncomfortably low!) energy level of the students, it is our hope that the students will continue to return each week! Our classes range in both style and content in an attempt to encourage the students to be conversational in English. We have taught praise and worship songs, such as Who am I and Blessed Be Your Name. We have discussed breakfast and how it varies around the world. We had a special Valentine’s Day lesson in which we discussed how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in a secular way, but we also considered how as Christians we know of the greatest love, and how it has been demonstrated for us (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16). We have also played a variety of games including Skip-Bo and spoons. We have discussed personality and character and how to best describe the people in our lives … The list goes on and so does the variety!
The aim of these lessons is really two-fold; and interestingly, the students learning the English language is really neither of the two! It is our hope and goal to build relationships with these students. To not only know about them, but rather, to build relationships with them, to be approachable to them, welcoming and open, so that we might, by what we say, by what we do, and by how we live, present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. And in doing so, achieve the second aim, to present them with a Christian World-View as it is lived out daily. We are really glad and humbled that the Lord can use us in this endeavor. I am reminded of a time when a former student of ours, now a dear friend, commented, “You know, we were always watching you two. And we were especially curious by how you and Eric related to each other. Not harsh, but in a thoughtful and kind manner.” This remark blew us away! To think that even our moment by moment interactions as a married couple are being so scrutinized by high school students! Both humbling and scary for us! What a reminder to take every thought captive for Christ! Maybe that most succinctly conveys what the aim of these classes is, from 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” As well as Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, from 1 Timothy 4:12, to “…set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” To, by the grace of God, by his Spirit dwelling in us, to be counter culture, even in the small day to day interactions, moment by moment, to let our lives reflect the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Soli Deo Gloria.