October 16, 2009

English Conversation Ministry: explaining the gospel from square one

On Wednesday night , we had our second English Conversation meeting at church. This is our church’s ministry to international students in our area. At our last meeting we only had one student show up, because most of our students from last semester have moved.
Anyway, we had two more students show up this week and one of them was a new student. She just arrived in the United States two and a half months ago. She is a Chinese student studying at Mississippi College. I don’t know her real name, but the English name she has chosen to go by is Lydia.

She had a question about something she had been studying in one of her classes. She asked us about the passage in Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

She asked us how anyone could love there enemies? She is an intermediate English student so her question did not come out this clearly. At first we misunderstood her and thought she was asking us for a translation or a simpler definition of some of the words in the passage. So we were saying ask Yiban, (he is a more advanced English speaker, who is also Chinese).

So, Karen and I ended up sitting and talking with her about this very issue. Karen is another woman from our church helping with the English Conversation classes.

I do not know if we ever were able to get this great concept across to her or not. I hope she comes back next week so we can talk about it again. The truth of the matter is that no one can love their enemies without Christ.

I wanted to show her the passage from Matthew 19 where Jesus said with man it is impossible but with God all things are possible, but I could not remember the reference. Also the context of this passage is when Jesus was speaking to the rich young man about how to have eternal life. I did not want to muddy the waters even more by bringing up yet another passage to have to explain.

I believe the real problem is that she comes from an atheist background and has little knowledge of the Bible. She does not understand that Jesus was expounding on the law given to the Jews by God through Moses. She does not understand that Jesus was trying to break through their self righteous attitudes about following the law so that they would realize that no one can be right with God apart from Him (Jesus).

We tried to give her more background by telling her about the connection between the Fall and the need for Jesus. After we explained that Jesus is God’s son sent to save the world from their sin, we also had to explain that not only is Jesus God’s son he is God too. A discussion of the Trinity to add to our problems!

There is much ground to be covered with her. I found a Bible study help called The Story of a Kingdom that is a simple explanation of the Bible. It also has a Chinese translation to go with it. This is great, but it might take to long to go through with her. Especially since we do not know how often she will come. So I want write up a brief overview or time line of the old testament and its connection with the new testament (and Jesus) to give to her. I hope this might help clarify some things for her. I am praying that God will help her understand the way to Him, and that he will use us to help her see Him.

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