Do you remember hearing newspaper sellers shouting their news on street corners as the latest edition of their broadsheet became available? I don’t think I do… but I’ve seen it in films so it must be true!
How do we shout out our ultimate news? There are some key questions to consider: How do we find ways to encourage our students to engage with what is really true? How do we get more of their time? We must also acknowledge that we are not a Christian Language School, several of our teachers are not Christians and a lot of our funds come from secular sources (as I shared last time). So we want to be true to our Charity deeds and we don’t want to try and make Oasis English Language School into an evangelistic tool. Those of us who are Christians have been thinking and praying about this a lot.
We have distilled the answers to our key questions down to a series of events which we are calling “Oasis Extra!” Our plan is to use British cultural traditions and experiences to deepen friendships and allow us to share more of ourselves and our faith with our students, OUTSIDE the language school environment and hours. So students have to CHOOSE to come. Will they?
Let me tell you about November 4th 2017…
We chose to advertise a Guy Fawkes themed event for a Saturday afternoon — to include hot food, quizzes, story time, games, craft and conversation for whole families. Our faith was small. We anticipated that four or five families might join the eight of us who had signed up to organise and lead our first church-based ‘Oasis Extra!’
At 12:30pm, the official start time, one family was in the room. Our Latvian student came with her English husband and their three-year-old son. We began to play shove ha’penny.
At 12:45 a group of Polish families arrived. Three of our students brought their husbands and children so we were now up to a comfortable 23 bodies and the craft (all about firework pictures and bonfire cakes) caught the children’s attention straight away. Five minutes later we were thrilled to see three of our Muslim students arrive… with their children and their friends! We were now up to 40 bodies and the 30 jacket potatoes we’d prepared were going to need to stretch. And stretch they did!
By 1:15 and story time we had been joined by 15 more, including a Portuguese student and her husband and several more of our Kurdish students, one of whom brought her husband along. We did not stop grinning! We ate and we chatted; we played games and we told stories. We enjoyed being together. Did we share the Gospel? No. But it was a stepping stone. We broke down the hesitation that some of our students had expressed about going inside a Church building. We demonstrated care and kindness. And we had fun on a cold and wet autumn afternoon.
So, what will we do next? We’re thinking about a Christmas ‘Oasis Extra!’ in the same venue along the lines of a Messy Church event. And we’ll plan to have more Christians present to chat. I’ll let you know how it goes.