Imagine yourself living in a strange country, isolated from the culture because you don’t know the language. You can’t read the newspaper, decipher road signs, order from a menu, or understand TV programs.
More than two million Chinese immigrants in North America face these problems every day. Because of the language barrier, they can’t get a decent job. Their social lives are restricted to Chinatown. As their children learn English, they even begin to feel alienated within their own families.
Now imagine turning on your radio and hearing a broadcast called English World. You’re intrigued by the friendly voice having a conversation in Cantonese with an English-speaking person using words that relate to your daily life.
English World is one of the newest projects of the Back to God Hour’s Chinese-language ministry. The Cantonese/English format helps listeners to learn basic words and concepts needed to function in their new homeland. The practical conversation concludes with a smooth transition to a Bible passage that points out that God understands our struggles, loves us, and provides a way for us to be part of his family.
“We see how in their desperation and depression God led them to our program,” comments Laisin Cheung, herself an immigrant, who is one of the producers of English World. “God is using [this program] to open their hearts to the gospel. God uses the low point of people’s lives to bring a great blessing to them.”
Cheung and BTGH’s audio services supervisor Mark Drenth have just completed a DVD of the program so listeners can play it again and again as they learn English. It’s a simple, inexpensive recording that lets the audience hear the lesson and read along with the contents in Cantonese and English. A similar version in Mandarin and English will also be released soon.
The DVD is offered free to listeners who write or call in response to the radio broadcast. It also will be distributed through social service centers in major cities with significant Chinese immigrant populations. Nearly 500 DVDs have been distributed so far in the Chicago area alone.
Those who have received the DVD are responding with enthusiasm: “The DVD is attractive. It has increased my interest in learning English,” writes one recipient. Another asks, “Many of my friends are eager to learn English too. May I ask for more copies that I can pass on to them, so that they can hear the gospel too?” And still another writes, “I like the biblical messages that you share in the DVD. They really help unbelievers who are eager to learn more English and end up learning more about their relationship with God.”
“God has been doing great things in the Back to God Hour Chinese ministry,” Cheung says. “I believe he has been giving us creative ways to bring the good news to our audiences.”