The gift of words and the Word


Why are native English- and German-speakers teaching French to immigrants in Paris?

“France is in an exciting position when it comes to reaching the whole world,” said worker Marsha*. “Just spend some time under the Eiffel Tower and you will see the world right here at your doorstep: so many nationalities, ethnic groups and different languages, many of them from Muslim countries.”

One of the five ministries of OM France is to “love Muslims”. Another is “reaching neighbours,” and a third is “caring for the marginalised”. Many immigrants in France fit into all three of these categories, so several years ago, OM France decided to start meeting a practical need to build relationships with immigrants by teaching French.

Now, OM France holds classes several times a week in three churches in Paris and one church in Toulouse.

Some of the women the team works with come from French-speaking countries but are illiterate. Others hold degrees in their native countries but don’t know a single word of French.

Many of these women arrive in France, and immediately they need to register their children for school, find doctors for their husbands and buy groceries. They don’t speak French. How do they communicate with schools? How do they know what the doctors write on the prescriptions? Many immigrants face these very real day-to-day dilemmas.

“While we as teachers may not be native French speakers,” said Marsha, “our French is better than theirs, better than no French at all. As foreigners ourselves, we can relate to their problems, build bridges and help them see that leaning on God is the solution.”

Marsha connects with her students through shared experiences. When she explained about her appointment to renew her residency card, she was met with sighs of understanding. Her students can relate to her experiences, and she can form relationships with them.

Please support the work of OM France by praying for this ministry and these women. For more information on how you can get involved, contact info.fr@om.org.

*Full name omitted for security reasons

Region: Europe
Country: France
Credit: OM International ©2014