In the first two days of sessions with readers, I have quite a contrast in my readers’ interests and language skills. For example, Alex is a very talented, bright 22-year-old. His English is excellent, although his search for the right word in English is sometimes challenging. He reads the Luke stories well and has excellent questions. His pronunciation skills are way above average among most of my readers. His questions are frequent and challenging. For example, one question he asked today was, “Is the devil one person or several?” after reading the story of the temptation of Jesus in the desert. This led to a stimulating conversation about places in the Bible where the devil is mentioned.
In addition, he comes from a very stable family where both parents have successful careers and who give him much moral support. He comes to our sessions with a smile on his face and a look of anticipation as we begin the session.
In contrast is Edmonson, a middle-aged gentleman, whose English is very limited. Often I will have to repeat a sentence several times before he understands, and even then I have confused him. As you know, I speak very rapidly and that makes it even more difficult for us to have a conversation even when I slow down. In addition, he is broken-hearted about his family problems.
One of my most challenging words to explain to him was the word, “careful.” I tried several times to give an example of the word and also provided what I thought were appropriate definitions. Nothing worked. Finally, we both agreed just to move on.
Edmilson is really earnest about his desire to learn better English skills and he also is very concerned about his faith. Because of his family problems, he stopped attending worship services at his church. He says, however, that he believes in God and believes what the Bible teaches. There is definitely an opportunity to help him regain his faith in organized religion. I was exhausted at the end of the session and somewhat discouraged. As I walked him to the door, he shook my hand and said, “I really enjoyed our conversation tonight.”
I was reminded of the LST motto, “God’s Word is the teacher and you are the illustration.” Even though I feel inadequate about sharing the good news, God will find a way through us.