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English Conversation Project (ECP): A Good Thing Going On! [News]

March 27, 2018

(March 27, 2018 - by Theresa With)  

In the south of Spain in mid-February this year, the creative minds that write, edit, produce, and voice audio programs and videos for Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Project (ECP) came together with writers of conversation starters and club coordinators. They gathered for the ECP annual conference to pray, fellowship, plan and strategize together.

This year’s conference did not disappoint the attendees. Participants came away with smiles and exuberance from the conference. For one member, James*, a highlight was seeing missionaries that he and his wife have known since time spent together in Ecuador years ago. “We have followed their journey as … God led them to Spain where they are now missionaries. Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Project has opened up opportunities for them to meet people in their town, invest in their lives and have meaningful conversations about biblical truth.”

BRIDGING TOOL

Much of the world today speaks English, and many non-native English speakers want to learn the language or improve their skills. The ECP meets that need while bringing the gospel into the conversation through creative means using modern technology.

Team members from many regions came together at the ECP conference.Created to build a bridge into people’s lives for the purposes of developing English conversation, relationships and evangelism, teams of Christian broadcasters and teachers produce scripts, audio programs, videos, training and conversation starters covering a multitude of topics. The programs are distributed around the world via radio, websites and social media. Using a limited vocabulary and very slow, deliberate, clear speech, the aim is to provide opportunities to those who wish to practice speaking and listening in English, while discussing broader ssues about life, both temporal and eternal.

Complementing the audio and online materials are English Conversation Clubs. Some clubs meet in person, while others create clubs via digital platforms. Club leaders and English learners from around the world join together to practice speaking English by discussing a variety of topics. Local churches often become engaged as well, running the conversation clubs using the ECP.

BENEFITS & IMPACT

At this year’s conference, several team members enjoyed meeting each other for the first time, as well as hearing stories of the project’s benefits and impact and witnessing the passion and commitment of the team.

Kevin* leads discussion at an ECP meeting.Learners who are anxious to practice English hear about the learner website through word of mouth. The sites provide access to topical audio programming, written in specialized English and read slowly. The learners are excited to practice English with native speakers, as well as to develop friendships. Since most other English-practicing lessons require payment, ECP’s free program offers a great alternative.                                                                                                

Because discussion topics on the ECP learner website are broad, this provides open doors for Christian values to be more naturally woven into conversations. Hearts become open to the gospel. Long-term friendships are established. Over the years, many club members have become believers through the conversations and relationships that have developed. Churches have partnered with ECP Clubs to disciple new believers. The whole project becomes a win-win for the communities in which they are involved.

ROCK STAR CONNECTIONS

On one occasion during the week of the conference, the team met with a club in Spain and found encouragement and a fresh perspective. Fred*, a team member, was encouraged by a woman he met who worked two jobs to provide for her family, but made it a priority to attend the ECP Club in her area. As she left the meeting that night, she said to Fred in her limited English, “I will never forget tonight.” For Fred, who was struggling with being away from his family with a daughter in the hospital, that moment made the time and resources to travel all worth it. It became clear to him that so many of those in the program need a place (and people) to listen, help, and give them a little hope.

Stuart* would agree. After attending the ECP club one evening and seeing it in operation, he said it was “a good reminder of the end goal, not only giving an opportunity for English conversation but also for relationships that direct people to the Savior.” He went on to say that another particular highlight for him was seeing Grace*, a former student of his, who is now a conversation group leader.

At the meeting Stuart attended, Ian*, one of the voices on ECP’s programs, was met with a roomful of “ahhhs” as he was introduced and the connection was made for the first time by club members. Stuart described it as “a rock star moment that was fun to share.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE, MEMORIES & TRANSFORMED LIVES

That moment and evening were highlights for Ian as well, as he engaged in dialogue with club members and listened to their questions and comments about the program. The group also presented a homemade Valentine card to the team, with signed statements of the direct impact of the program on each of them. Some of the comments included:

•  Thank you, your programme is excellent!

•  It is helping me to improve my English. I need it for my job.

•  Thanks for all the support and for the amazing things we learn.

Ian especially enjoyed hearing the stories from members telling why they come to the group. “One lady needed to improve her English as her work team became more and more global; another was a policeman, and some were of high-school age. It was so encouraging to see how the club is making a difference; this will help me each time I record my voice parts.”

Team members meet for a Spanish evening out.Outside the meetings, talks and discussions, the team also enjoyed some lighter times together. Susan* reported of one such random time. “James was warming up on the piano, for devotions. For whatever reason, he started playing a Billy Joel song, and one by one we joined in, singing together loudly - in English and Spanish! Later, we sang worship songs together, and it was a holy moment, where our team, who debates, works hard, and lives apart in places across the globe, came together in music.”             

The success of this year’s conference encouraged participants that Reach Beyond’s English Conversation Project is alive and well. It is a tool that God continues to use to bless individuals and communities. Friendships continue to build. Lives continue to be transformed. And for that reason, this ‘good thing’ will keep on going!


SOURCES: Reach Beyond

 

*Names changed to protect identities

 




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