An English Learning Community

February 24, 2024

“Who, then, was a good neighbor to this man?” 

Luke 10:25-28, 29 / On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

Perhaps, we have all gotten to a place where we are asking ourselves this question, “Who is my neighbor?” Maybe we have an idea of our community and its needs, but we have lost its pulse. Maybe we have found the spaces we are most comfortable to volunteer but, like the scholar, refuse to open our eyes to our neighbors. Maybe you are searching for opportunities to serve around the world but, in your own neighborhood, you live your faith quietly.

As a nonprofit organization with a global focus, we believe that our neighbors are in countries near and far. We believe God has called us to meet the needs of people around the world. However, we can’t ignore the purpose behind God planting us as a local ministry in central Virginia. 

Henrico County is one of the most diverse counties in central Virginia with citizens from more than 120 different countries, speaking 138 languages. With a mission to make disciples of all nations, 28:19 Ministries can’t ignore the fact that 62% of the nations are represented in our own neighborhoods, pools, workplaces, grocery stores. The Great Commission is meant for our own backyard, if only we can be bold enough to see the Good News for what it truly is. 

The Good News is for our neighbors. 

With this in mind and with encouragement from fellow missionaries, 28:19 Ministries started an English Learning Community (ELC) at the end of January. The ELC is a weekly English class that focuses on social learning, grammar, and reading comprehension through a Bible story. Since our first class, we have welcomed 24 students from four different nations, who have been eager to learn English. 

“I want to connect with my daughters,” one student shared. This was her first time learning English since she moved to the USA 21 years ago. 

“I need to practice for my job,” another student shared.

“I need to know how to communicate at the hospital or at school for my kids,” a mother of five shared. 

During class, laughter is heard coming from each table with whispers in six different languages. As many of us are striving to thrive, our neighbors are trying to survive. Trying to survive in unfamiliar spaces. Trying to survive in a new culture. Trying to survive in uninviting communities. 

Will you notice them?

Will you slow down long enough to see them?

Will you open wide enough to let them in?

Will you make room in your schedule?

Will you pass them by? 

Or will you have mercy?

Just like the story that Jesus told and the life He lived on earth, our love should lead us out of our comfort zone to meet the needs of people. Our love should lead us into proximity with our neighbors, planting deep roots of compassion. Our love should begin at the heartbreak felt when knowing someone else’s reality can’t be solved while staying within the comfort of your own.

At the end of each class, we read a story from the Bible. While the story gives the students an opportunity to practice reading comprehension skills, our volunteers are able to share the truth from the Gospel with them. Our students proclaim various faiths, but everyone is welcome to sit at the table with us. During our most recent class, some of our volunteers sat across from a Muslim family, while reading a story from the Bible. Where fear or discomfort might expect rejection, there was only compassion.

After telling the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who unexpectedly had compassion on his neighbor, Jesus said, “Now, go and do likewise.” 

Where will compassion lead you? Will it lead you outside of your comfort zone? Will it slow you down? Will it push past the distractions long enough to see your neighbor?

Maybe, the ELC is where you need to start, to set aside the busyness long enough to know your neighbor. Learn more about volunteering with 28:19 Ministries at our English Learning Community here: Fill out our Interest Form

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28:19 Ministries activates believers to live in response to the great commission.

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