“Language can be a huge barrier, but also a bridge to sharing the gospel,” says East London-based missionary Alice Cooper.
“There are estates you walk through in Shadwell with the sarees hanging to dry outside front-doors and children playing in the streets, and you feel like you’ve been magically transported to Bangladesh,” said Alice.
In this area of Tower Hamlets, up to half the inhabitants are Bangladeshi. Often, little English is spoken by first generation Bengalis, especially women. During lockdown, this has made home-schooling all the more difficult.
The language barrier compounds the sense of isolation Alice sees in women from the community. So the English classes she runs are a lifeline, positively impacting people’s confidence. They also offer a chance to talk about Jesus.
Alice finds that where women may lack literacy skills, they are adept at recounting stories verbally. The Discovery Bible Study starts with the reading of a short passage, before participants repeat what they have heard in their own words.
“These are really effective, simple resources which churches can pick up and use,” said Alice. “People from a Muslim background are a lot more open to these conversations than you might imagine.”
Alice is currently equipping a new church to take over the English lessons, which continued online over lockdown. Her prayer is that other East End churches will be emboldened to reach their neighbours with the good news of Jesus.
*This blog is taken from our quarterly prayer guide Together. Please use it to pray with us, walk the streets we walk, meet the people we meet, and see the challenges they face.