How to Use Pocket Testaments for ESL and non-English Speakers
In case you haven’t noticed, we live in an increasingly diverse nation. It is very likely, whether you live in a big city or a small town, you encounter people who do not speak English as their first language. Do those people need the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives?
Of course they do! But it can be intimidating to know how to share when you don’t speak the same language. The good news is that you don’t have to speak the same language to share a pocket Gospel. There are 19 different languages available to share with many of the people you will meet. Some of those languages even come in bilingual versions.
So how can you use these different versions? Here are several great ways:
As an ESL aid
Teaching English is a great way to minister to foreigners and their families. Many people use English teaching as a way to build relationships and share the gospel both in America and all over the world. Consider using a bilingual Pocket Gospel or two different Gospels in different languages to help someone learn English.
You can teach from them the same way you would any translated text. Start slowly by having your student identify basic words and verb tenses from one version to the other. Read out loud and have them repeat you for good pronunciation and cadence. As they recognize more and more words, have them read a sentence or verse in English and try to understand what it says, giving a simple explanation and then checking their answer in their own language’s version. Or you could do the opposite and have them try to translate to English from their own language, and then let them see how the translators said it. This will help them have a more advanced, natural speaking ability. However you choose to do it, the person will be improving their English and consuming the Word of God at the same time! Here’s a great example of using Pocket Gospels to teach English from Laura N. of Santa Rosa, CA:
We are Missionaries to the various immigrants here in Santa Rosa, CA. and hold free English classes every week. We plan to give these Gospels of John to our ESL students. Our class is made up of many Chinese speakers. Recently one of our Eritrian students to whom we had given a Gospel of John, prayed with us to receive the Lord. Because she was able to read the best, she is the only student to whom we have given a gospel of John so far. However, we will be doing a lesson on Independence Day and feel this Gospel of John will be an important addition to our lesson for all our students. Thanks so very much for this great Pocket Testament resource.
Laura wasn’t even using dual language versions yet and saw fruit. Imagine if her students had Gospels in English AND their own language! Even if you’re not available to guide regular lessons or classes, many non-English speakers are very motivated to learn and will enthusiastically self-study with two copies of the same text to help them. Gina C. in Milwaukee shares a perfect example:
There is a Chinese language ESL school near the restaurant that I put these Pocket Testaments in. The Gospels of John are gone in less than a week every month! God bless all you PTL members and all your work.
People trying to learn are eager to get their hands on anything that will help them. They will happily take the Word of God to do it! What a great opportunity! You also don’t have to stick with all adult versions of the text. Children’s editions can be very helpful to non-native speakers as they are learning to read and speak.
Not an English Teacher? That’s alright. Even if you’re not involved in any English-learning communities, you are surely around non-English speaking people sometimes.
In an airport, in a taxi, while on vacation—there are people in America and, obviously, all over the world that have a different first language than English who need to hear the Word of God. You may feel like you can’t share with them, but all it takes is a little bit of preparation! Order Gospels in the language spoken where you are traveling for work or vacation, or choose them in common international languages.
One great example is the bathroom attendants in major international airports. They take tips, so leave a dollar and a Gospel of John. While you’re traveling you may have tour guides and drivers as well. You can easily share with each one of them, just make a connection, no matter how small, and offer it to them. People who work in the tourism industry usually speak some English and are eager to learn more, so a bilingual copy really may be an exciting gift for them. Another great place to share is in a hotel. There are probably people working there who don’t speak English. There are also guests from all over the world traveling just like you are on business and pleasure. If you notice someone in the breakfast buffet line or in the pool, you’ll be glad to have the Gospel with you! Wherever you are, just think outside of the box and let the Holy Spirit guide you.
Just make sure when you share a Gospel that the person you share with speaks the same language as the book! It only takes a moment of body language questioning or broken English for someone to confirm that they understand the words you are handing them. You never know, you may be giving them the only piece of Scripture they’ve ever seen. Mike N. of Anna, TX has seen firsthand the fruit of Gospels in other languages:
We spent a week in the Dominican Republic on mission in November. God blessed our group with over 115 professions, including one on the plane on the way home! We gave the copies of the Gospel of John to seekers and those who had just made a profession. In addition, we had a high school exchange student from Germany, who I gave a Gospel of John to, sharing that the pocket testament's contents changed my life. She read the Gospel of John and received the Lord! These pocket testaments are the best way to share what God has given us in His Son.
You never know who God has prepared to receive His Word. Give it to them in their heart language and let the Spirit do its job.
Do you live in an international hotspot like a port or city? There are constantly people from all over the world all around you! Some of these people may be from churched regions of the world but who may not personally know the Lord, and others may be from closed countries where the Bible is banned and they have no access to it. Living in an international area gives you a tremendous opportunity to reach extraordinarily hard to reach people. Consider Robert I. of Fort Myers, FL ministry:
We share the Gospel in prisons and sometimes we're limited because we do not speak Spanish. This bilingual Gospel of John is such a blessing. How wonderful it is that Mexican inmates can learn English by learning God's truths? God bless you for this wonderful PTL ministry.
Do you realize that missionaries struggle to get into and stay in countries that send workers all over the world? You may be the only missionary who will ever be able to reach them, and you might not even have to leave your own town to do it. There could be two dozen people playing basketball down the street from you who haven’t heard about Jesus because their English isn’t great. Or what about at your favorite ethnic food restaurant? Those can be some of the first places people arriving in our country work. How about in the Subway? Or in tourist areas? There are people all around, all the time, who could benefit from a non-English Pocket Gospel.
Whichever way you are able to reach them with the Gospel—through ESL, vacation, or in your own town—it may not be as difficult as you think. You don’t have to be fluent in a dozen languages to have an impact on many nations for Christ. You just have to be faithful and equipped.
Many members are doing just that. They are sharing these Gospels at cultural centers, libraries, restaurants, and around the globe. If you find these testimonies encouraging, there are hundreds more just like themon our website! These Testaments in different languages are such a valuable resource.
So whatever your summer plans or regular lifestyle, plan ahead and order gospels that you can share with non-English speakers. Then tell us:
What’s your story for how you’ll use them?