Our guest writer is Dinita Feather who serves with her husband, Tim, at CrossPoint Alliance Church in Fairlawn, OH. Almost three years ago English as a Second Language (ESL) classes were started there and I jumped in as a teacher. It’s been a great experience, and each week I look forward to the time I spend with my students. I’m excited to say that several of our Alliance churches offer ESL classes. God is bringing the world to our doorstep and we have the privilege of opening the doors of our homes and churches, but more importantly our hearts, to them. Dinita shares a way for those learning English to help minister to children and expose them to God’s truths at their English level.
“Belonging before Believing"
Have you ever considered allowing people to “belong” before they “believe”? What would it look like for you to do that in your context?
Kotona and Keiko are two good friends of mine from Japan whom I have gotten to know over the past year. Although we are from different cultures, we have shared lots of fun times together just as friends; the way good friends do who are from the same culture. At one of the play dates I had with Kotona and her kids, I took a risk and asked her if she would be interested in bringing Shun, her three year-old son, to the 5 Day Club we would be having at church in July. Of course I needed to take time to explain what this event was, and as I did, I mentioned that if she wanted Shun to come it would be great if she could stay with him. She liked the idea of being a helper in that class (and extra hands are always a bonus when the children are so young).
A few weeks later, as I was enjoying tea with Keiko, I mentioned that Kotona will be helping at 5 Day Club and I ventured to ask her if she also was interested in doing something at 5 Day Club too. She was elated to be invited to work in the craft room since creating brings her great joy.
Later, Kotona asked me if men also helped at 5 Day Club or if it was just women. Her husband Koji wanted to help in the 3-4 grade group, despite the fact that their third grade daughter was unable to attend.
As I considered these three separate conversations, I realized the truth of what Jesus says in John 6:65, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” God was drawing Kotona, Keiko, and Koji. I wanted to give each of them the opportunity to hear the message of God and His Love and His Plan in an indirect way, and 5 Day Club was the perfect opportunity.
All three helped in different areas at our 5 Day Club – and had a blast doing so! In the process, they heard the gospel each day in word, in song, in discussion, and even in the craft time. As we were praying before that week for God to continue drawing their souls to Him, we decided to open the opportunity to help in non-teaching roles to the other internationals who attend English as a Second Language classes at CrossPoint. Wow - at our morning club, 19 of the 45 workers were internationals. Fully engaged. Totally interacting with God and His people. And discovering who Jesus is in a “back door” sort of way.
In no way do we at CrossPoint equate “belonging” with “believing.” They definitely are two distinct concepts. But allowing our friends to belong before they believe provides them with opportunities to add to their information about Jesus in non-threatening ways. They can go and contemplate what they have heard in the quietness of their home. We give God’s Spirit the time and space to apply the things they’ve heard us teaching, to others. And even as the Father has already drawn them, we trust Him to continue to draw them. We ask follow up questions at God-given opportunities, and in God’s timing we pray they will commit their whole lives to Him.
God is LORD of the nations. Who does God want you to invite to belong – and trust Him that they will soon believe?
By Dinita Feather