By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
ROCKVILLE, Md.—“We are a church of many cultures,” says Jean Durscher, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at First Baptist Church, Rockville. Durscher teaches four classes a week.
“It began with Brazillians. Two came and they brought friends, then more friends came. Then two came from Taiwan. From there on, different cultures came.”
She began teaching classes during Sunday school, but when the bell rang for church the class was disappointed. “They would groan and say ‘not long enough!’” Durscher said.
In response, she offered members to come to her house for three-hour classes.
“I didn’t even know if they understood, but I got ready and made snacks, and the cars began to roll in.”
Durscher was surprised that some people had only been in America for three days.
“I jokingly said they must have a sign in the airport that says, ‘Free English classes at the Durscher’s house.’”
She began serving dinners on her Friday evening classes, but had to stop when attendance soared to 60 people. Classes include Bible lessons–picking a story and discussing it.
In addition to the ESL classes, Durscher teaches one-on-one classes to help immigrants pass their citizenship classes. Thirty people who have studied with Durscher went on to pass their tests.
Since 2000, there have been 40 professions of faith from the class. Some have joined the church. One man, who speaks Farsi, used to translates on Sundays. Several sing in the choir.