They came from 35 countries and connected at Foundry
The wide reach of our ESL program
I have seen a lot of changes in my eight years volunteering for Foundry's English as a Second Language. The mix of students is always changing. We have served students from at least 35 countries since I started. We expanded the program from one night a week to two nights. We have had many dedicated volunteers, some of them long-time Foundry members, others brand new to the church.
What never changes, though, is the power of God's love to transform lives through this ministry of Foundry. And God is not just working through volunteers to change the world, he is working through our students as well.
In fact, I believe Foundry's ESL program has made a difference to people in ways we may never know. But I have seen many examples of how, when the church stretches to connect with our neighbors, we can have a profound impact. For instance:
- Recently, our program has welcomed an influx of LGBTQ refugees from former Soviet republics, a student from Myanmar who had been a political prisoner for 18 years and political refugees from Cameroon and the Central African Republic.
- Last year, I taught a student from Nicaragua named Guiselle who came to class with her uncle. She was only visiting the country for a few months, but she came to pretty much every class. At the end of semester party, she brought three guests and took more pictures than I can ever remember a student taking. Guiselle is back in Nicaragua now, with a far better experience of this country than what so many others of her Central American brothers and sisters experience on a daily basis here.
- A long-time student of ours, unfortunately, was mugged on the way to class one evening. A few days later, an immigrant member of a cleaning crew found her discarded wallet and returned it to her. In gratitude, she gave him a gift that was very important to her: she invited him to Foundry's ESL classes, and he has become an active participant.
- Our students inevitably want to give back for the hospitality they have experienced at Foundry. Some bring drinks or food to share during our mid-class breaks. Others have volunteered for Foundry's Sandwich 1000 ministry and for Great Days of Service.
- I have made many lifetime friendships, with both fellow volunteers and students, through the Foundry ESL program. I know many other people have too.
The ESL program is what brought me to Foundry, and I am deeply grateful for the gift. At Foundry, we focus on living out our faith, on loving others and changing the world. That is why I personally am here, and I am sure the same is true for many of you.
As you think about your support of Foundry in the coming weeks, I encourage you to remember all of the ways God is working through this church to spread his love. I hope you can join me in supporting the many great ministries at Foundry, so that this great work can continue.
Andrew (Andy) Lee
For more information about Foundry's ESL program, visit their Facebook page!