Teaching English at a private university in the Far East can be challenging in many ways. Some course textbooks are written from a socialist and atheistic perspective. College English majors may be unable to comprehend and communicate in a class taught in the English language. However, there are also pleasant surprises, as one worker found out. Below, she shares what happened when she was asked to teach a course on European culture.
I wasn’t prepared to teach this course on European culture. I’d found out that I was scheduled to teach the class only a few weeks before the start of the new semester. At the time, I was in the U.S. for summer break. I didn’t even have the textbook with me!
I knew this would be a hard course involving tons of preparation. I didn’t know a lot about European culture, nor did the students have sufficient English skills to really interact with me in the classroom. Even though all my courses would be taught in English, the preparation would take many extra hours. I was already tackling the challenge of teaching a survey of British Literature that semester.
I was not happy. Didn’t God know I had enough work to do? Yet, I knew He was in control and that He knew perfectly well how things worked in that country, so I looked to Him to take away the frustration and anger.
As I paged through the textbook given to me soon after I returned to the school, my heart stopped. One section’s title, “The Bible and Christianity,” jumped out. What? Is this for real? I scanned the section and saw passages from the Old and New Testaments as well as explanations and comments.
Could it really be that I was being asked to teach the very thing my heart longed to share?
As I read the sections in detail, I saw the challenge ahead of me. No resurrection mentioned? But this lesson was about the life of Jesus. It couldn’t be! I looked again, even more carefully this time. I saw the heading, “The Crucifixion,” but no mention of Jesus’ rising again. The King James Bible verses in the section read, “There laid they Jesus, … the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” Period. That was it. Another section read, “After Jesus died, the disciples tried to spread his gospel.” No resurrection. No explanation that because He arose, the gospel spread.
I was shocked, but not surprised. The common belief in the area was that Christianity is old-fashioned and not for intelligent people. That line had been drilled into my university students’ thinking ever since their first years of school.
I looked to God for wisdom and help as creative teaching ideas began to stir within me. I wanted the students to know of creation, God’s plan for the nations, Jesus coming to earth, His teaching and miracles and both His dying and rising again—as the Savior of the world.
The school had just installed projectors, allowing PowerPoint to be used in the classroom. So, I created presentations in English and their local language using pictures, video clips and materials I found online to supplement the abbreviated and distorted accounts in our textbooks. In homework assignments, I gave them an opportunity to share their thoughts about Jesus. Many wrote about what a good teacher Jesus was, and a few alluded to more.
My prayer is that even now, some of the students will remember a scene or a word from my classroom. The Spirit will work and they will realize that Jesus is indeed risen—a fact not found in their textbooks, but revealed by the Holy Spirit in their hearts—and they will respond in faith.
How Can I Get Involved?
- Ask God to nurture seeds of truth sown in classrooms and conversations so that they bear eternal fruit!
- Ask God to give wisdom and creative ideas to workers serving as teachers as they seek to share with their students.
English teachers, especially those with master’s and doctorate degrees, can easily find jobs in least-reached communities. Pray about going!
Your gift to the Christar Training and Education Fund allows Christar workers to offer educational programs that benefit least-reached communities, open doors to share the good news and train followers of Christ.