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Church ESL Camp Preps Hispanic Elementary Students for School Year

“The class for primary students is important because it is a direct need voiced by both parents of our Adult ESL program and our school partners.

“As we learn to love our community well to share the Gospel, it is important to meet actual needs instead of just doing activities we like to do,” Traffanstedt said. “If you respond to an actual need, it shows the community we are listening and we mean it when we say we love our community.”

Charmaine Traffanstedt, certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), describes ESL classes as adaptive to any church’s language ministry needs, regardless of the primary language spoken in the community served.

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“We are able to do an ESL program because of the prayer, material and financial support of our partner churches,” she said, including volunteers from Emmanuel Baptist Church in New Caney. “A big part of the beauty of an ESL program is it’s not simply the church giving somebody something, it is the church coming alongside someone and helping them achieve a goal that they’ve set for themselves.

“There’s an affirmation of dignity that comes along with that. There’s a friendship and a partnership approach to an ESL-type ministry,” she said, “that lends itself well to creating those Gospel conversations that come alongside that, where you are able to start doing life with the people coming in, and the people that you’re reaching out to.”

Charmaine encourages churches to start small and use available resources, such as training offered by the North American Mission Board.

The ESL camp included nightly dinner, class time that pointed out the Christ connection in each Bible story, crafts and games, and utilized the Jesus Storybook Bible and the Woman’s Missionary Union Telling the Story curriculum.

Charmaine appreciates that Baltanado, a former adult ESL student, is active in the ESL ministry.

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“It was encouraging to see her go from a student, to a regular attender in the church, to serving in the camp as well,” Charmaine said.

Baltanado, who accepted Jesus 28 years ago, is thankful for Cross Community Church and the opportunity to serve.

“I was looking for a church,” she said. “I didn’t find anything like Cross Community, because I think they love people. I (identify) with them, and I like to work with them.”

This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.