Multiculturalism is here to stay. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 20% of Australians speak a language other than English at home.
This multiculturalism is also reflected in the Body of Christ. As a result of our national immigration policy, Australia’s multi-ethnic churches are booming. There are about 100 Chinese-language churches in Melbourne and nearly 40 Indonesian-language ones. Almost one third of the Baptist churches in Victoria have non-English speaking congregations. Church plants with African, Myanmar, Spanish, Indian and Pacific Islander people are springing up around the state. There are new Iranian Christians in many Melbourne churches.
Common to all these congregations and new believers is that English is their second language. Many people arrived in this country with little or no English. They recognise the value of good language for their integration into Australia. They need a strong grasp on English to study at TAFE, or trade or industry courses or universities. They want to find work, and language competence is key. But they also want to grow in their faith in Christ. Life is more than just work or family or success: God is the centre of their existence.
So how do we respond to these significant demographic developments? How do we answer their expressed need to improve their English? How can we help them to understand the Bible better and to put it into practice in their daily lives? A marriage of English language and biblical concepts is an obvious one.
The Bible is the best-selling book ever in the English language. Its stories, concepts and vocabulary are an indispensable part of the English language. What could be a better place to start?
“How can we help them to understand the Bible better and to put it into practice in their daily lives?”
MST-Eastern is now offering Australia’s first nationally-accredited English course with a focus on the Bible and Christian teaching. In February 2019, a Certificate III in Spoken and Written English began, using the Bible as its sourcebook. The course is under the direction of MST-Eastern lecturer Dr Bernie Power and the instructor is Mrs Heather McGowan. Bernie has over 20 years experience working in Muslim countries and Heather has taught in UK, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Italy, as well as Australia. A pilot course in 2018 attracted 16 new immigrants from Iran, Myanmar and China.
The 2019 course runs on Monday nights at MST-Eastern in Wantirna. It covers all the important aspects of English language – vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, how to start and maintain a conversation, and ways of analysing themes. As with all MST-Eastern courses, God’s word will have the central place, providing stories and topics for discussion, becoming the guidebook for all our thoughts, words and actions, and speaking divine truth into every situation. Please pray for this course!