ESL Ministry Supports Refugees

The trajectory of Evie Tucker’s* life was forever changed after a chance encounter volunteering at a local community center.

The Nashville native was volunteering with a group of friends working to provide refugee support services for displaced Middle Eastern refugees. Inspired by her service and sensing a potential vocational call, Tucker contacted the International Mission Board.

Unknown to Evie, middle Tennessee is home to one of the largest hubs of certain Middle Eastern ethnic groups in the United States. The IMB estimates that of the 91 different people groups in middle Tennessee, there are at 30 to 40 unreached groups within a while radius of just Tusculum Hills Baptist Church – a congregation that Evie would become deeply invested.

Working with the International Mission Board, Tusculum Hills opened their doors for ESL classes. Partnering with Tucker’s home church, Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville and Nashville First Baptist Church, the three congregations began an ESL ministry that offered bible studies, small groups, and additional support services.

The language classes proved to be a major draw. Since many of the refugee women rarely ventured outside their homes in their home countries for cultural reasons, many of the women had limited exposure to English. Further, Tucker noted because many families hope to return to their home countries, many have not invested the time in learning English.

While at the ESL center, Tucker began hearing the stories of refugees fleeing their home countries to avoid violence and provide safe spaces and opportunities for their children.

Struck by one woman in particular who had been living in a refugee camp for five years, Tucker began sensing a call to learn more about the cultures of the people she was serving.

Remarking on her experiences, Tucker said, “It’s been really amazing to see how doing it in their homes has really been transformative to build relationships.”

*Names changed for security

Source: Baptist Press