By Sharon Mager
KENSINGTON, Md.—Kensington Baptist Church offers English as a Second Language and United States Citizenship (ESL) classes throughout the year and they’re seeing God work through those ministries.
“There’s a huge need in this area,” said Kensington Baptist Church Pastor Bill George, adding that it’s not just about teaching language and citizenship skills, it’s about building friendship and trust.
George said the political climate has soured towards immigrants recently. “There’s not a lot of trust.” Church members don’t ask a lot of questions, they just minister to people as they come in. immigrants are working sometimes multiple jobs as well as taking care of other people and needs in their lives. The church wants to be a blessing.
There’s a fellowship time included in the lessons, so people get to interact. Church members respond to needs as they are identified.
“If we hear of needs then we seek to meet them, whether its monetary, or if they need clothing we provide that. Often, they don’t want to admit that they’re in need,” he said. Church members work to assess the situation, but are very respectful of privacy.
“You’re trying to build dignity and respect and show concern and the love of Christ in action,” he said.
When students share that they must go home to their country for a little while, but plan to return, church members keep in touch to preserve and nurture the relationships.
George said they share the Gospel as the Holy Spirit leads, and intentionally share Christian traditions at Christmas and Easter and pray that God opens doors for more conversations.
The church offers fall and spring ESL classes followed by citizenship classes.
Kensington Church received ESL training through the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and citizenship information through an immigration conference that was offered several years ago by the Montgomery Baptist Association.
“Over the years several students have accepted Christ, to become a part of the Kensington Baptist Church family, and become actively involved.,” George said. Referring to the church’s ministry to immigrants, George said, “Ultimately it changes lives, but it doesn’t happen overnight.”