Celebrating Our ESL Ministry -- Gwen Colwell, Coordinator
As a child I was involved in all church activities. Through Sunbeams, GA Forward Steps, YWA, Camp Pinnacle and Ridgecrest I developed a keen interest in missions. I felt the needs of the world so strongly that as a youth I aspired to be a foreign missionary. As a pastor’s wife I worked intensely in missions education wherever Jack served. In retirement in Marietta I directed the English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry. As I worked with people from more than twenty nations, I realized that the world is literally at our doorsteps.
In our church I continue to work with ESL. Our Tuesday and Thursday morning classes are offered in partnership with Central Georgia Tech, which provides the teacher. We have added a growing English conversation group and a Japanese class on Wednesday nights. Our program is the only one in our county that provides child care during classes. In addition to language instruction the social aspect of our program is important. Students enjoy celebrating birthdays, baby showers, field trips, Christmas parties, luncheons, Easter Egg Hunts, and the Cherry Blossom Festival. ESL families participate in our church programs including the Fall Festival, Missions Fair, VBS, children’s choirs and other activities.
Most of our students are women whose husbands have jobs in the Macon area, so we have some turnover. Makiko Takashina recently moved to Atlanta when her husband was transferred. Nadya Zaytseva’s family will move to Brooklyn, NY at the end of May where her husband, an MD, will enter a residency program. We are privileged to minister to these and all our students here in Macon.
Our third annual ESL Recognition Sunday will be on May 6 in morning worship. Students and their families will sit together. Some will participate in the order of worship. They will be honored with a luncheon afterward when they will receive certificates from the church.
Several volunteer leaders are due recognition for their work in ESL. Romelle Jones and Sareta Shelburne assist with the Tuesday and Thursday classes. Marina Spears, Beth Walker and I lead the Wednesday night program. Mary Leonard and Jack Caldwell have also been valuable ESL assistants. Ayano Takazawa is the lead teacher and Yuko Seki is the assistant for the Japanese Class.
The success of our ESL program depends upon church support, not just in the budget but also in volunteers. Volunteers are needed for birthday parties, luncheons, tutoring, and special activities. When we begin the year in August, we will need additional volunteers. A strong and vibrant outreach to international friends among us will be enhanced by your assistance. If you feel led to be a part of this vital ministry of our church, please let me know.