By Jennifer Hooks
As director of the English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry at Horn Lake Baptist Church, Beverly Barclay has the opportunity to reach out to individuals from countries where it is often difficult for missionaries to enter. In March, she saw an Iranian individual with a Muslim background come to her church.
“It is such a miracle that I have been holding back to see if I am dreaming, but I do think it is genuine,” Barclay said.
Rachel* accepted Christ one Sunday morning after attending the ESL class and joined the church for baptism.
“The usher told me that one of those who came forward was Muslim and wanted someone to tell her how to become a Christian. He said he got the pastor and his wife to counsel them and one had accepted Christ during the Sunday school hour,” Barclay said.
Rachel had a Bible that her father was given while he was in the ESL group at Horn Lake years prior.
“It appeared that reading God’s Word and the Holy Spirit had led Rachel to seek salvation—we hardly knew her,” Barclay said.
The Muslim background, specifically the Iranian government, did not like the fact that Rachel had attended church. While many people want to come to the United States for freedom, Rachel had been waiting a long time to come so she could change her religion.
As churches and associations offer English as a Second Language ministries, many internationals have the opportunity to hear the Gospel for the very first time. Training for ESL ministries in Mississippi is funded by the Margaret Lackey State Missions Offering and are impacting numerous individuals throughout the state. ESL is not only a tool for teaching English, but it is also providing individuals the opportunity to dig into the Bible and to make a personal commitment to walk with the Lord daily.
FBC of Horn Lake is one of the churches that continues to make an impact through their ESL classes.
“In October of 1998 our ESL program started year-round and now we are known in the community as the place to learn English,” Barclay said.
She believes that it is a wonderful outreach tool and first got involved with ESL in Chicago over 40 years ago when the program was just beginning.
The miraculous story of a Muslim coming to saving faith is just a glimpse of what the Lord is doing in ESL ministry.
“Seed we sow in ESL will bear fruit someday. Praise the Lord!” Barclay said.
* Name changed for security purposes.