Mary Haile, from Ethiopia, is serving through SIM’s ENGAGE programme, based at a church in central London, where she teaches English as a second language and runs life-skills courses for homeless and vulnerable adults, asylum seekers and families from the church.
“In our English teaching ministry, we’ve been blessed with students from all over the world. Our students are mostly immigrants who have come to London for work or to seek refugee status.
“God has used the ministry in powerful ways as we run classes in the church building and include the gospel within the class content openly.
“During lockdown, we had to run the classes online and we expected lots of challenges, but instead, we were met with a new set of students from remote countries, eager to learn English and to hear Bible stories
“One student from Korea, even regularly joined at 4am in her time, because she wanted to learn to pray in English.
“Seeing the students’ interest, I led a six-week series on John’s Gospel and to our astonishment, students from China, Myanmar, Russia and so on, joined consistently. They were delighted to get more than mere English classes – they heard the true gospel – and we had students sob through the session where we discussed the crucifixion.
“Inspiring things happened in the first term of our online class. One of the radical things we saw was the transformation of a lady we shall call Lily.
“Lily was a regular at our classes and for months and I had no idea that Lily was transgender. She participated actively and started joining our weekly Bible study besides the English classes. After a while, we learned about her situation and I thought it would be a very long time before we’d see Lily lead a different lifestyle. But when we invited people for Christmas time, she was the only one to come to church in person.
“It was then that she shared with us how she felt like God had been chasing after her for a long time, yet she couldn’t make the decision to go after him because she lacked community.
“She asked if she could see the church’s counsellor. After a few counselling sessions, she wrote and said, ‘Tell Mary that I would like to be called K as that is the name that God knows me by’ and asked that we were to refer to him as ‘he’ from here on.
“Without us ever saying what he needed to do to repent, he started to de-transition back to his birth gender and legally changed his name to what was before. When he started coming to the weekly bible study, we learned that K had been on the streets for 25 years and had endured lots of pain in his life.
“By God’s grace, K accepted the Lord Jesus as his Lord and saviour and repented fully. He has now moved away to a different part of London where he works in an organisation that helps homeless people.
“K’s story of restoration and reconciliation with God is such a witness of the Lord’s active work through his body. May Christ’s church continue to be a light that shines in the deepest darkness. God bless.”
This story is one of many on the topic of ‘Reverse Mission’ that appears in the latest edition of SIM’s AfriGO magazine.
If your church would like to be involved with our ENGAGE programme, please email Tim Barrow at [email protected] to find out more.
- Give thanks that Mary has committed to a second year of service and for the deepening relationships she has formed through her ministry.
- Give thanks with Inspire that English classes have been well attended with a diverse range of people eager to read the Bible.
- That the Lord will bring many more to him through this outreach.