English as a Bridge to Jesus and a Better life in Brazil’s Amazon
By Brian Jakowski
You’ve heard the saying,
Give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.”
This Chinese proverb holds true here in the Brazilian Amazon. Speaking English opens doors to University and greater employment prospects; better Jobs serve to break the generations old cycle of poverty.
The hope of college degrees and better jobs gives would be drug dealers, gang members or prostitutes a reason not to be on the streets and reducing their risk of falling into any of these destructive lifestyles. In short, English is a way to a better life, it’s also our bridge to sharing Jesus Christ, the way to the best life and eternity!
TEACHING THE WHOLE STUDENT
The English Bridge Ministry located in Maues Amazonas Brazil is operated by my wife, Rosaria, and I. The primary focus of this ministry is sharing sharing Jesus as we teach. English; however, we believe we are called to minister to the whole student.
Many students come to us lacking dreams or hopes for a better future, believing they can’t break free from the generational cycle of poverty. In the lands surrounding Maués, hardworking men and women, raise families as their parents and grandparents did. On the good days, their hard work provides barely enough to meet daily needs, if that much. Often times, children must leave school at an early age to begin working to help support the family.
The cycle of poverty spans generations. While out walking one night, we passed by four women sitting on the curb with eyes void of hope . A grandma about 45 years old, her daughter maybe 30, her daughter around13–14 nursing an infant only a few month old. They represented four generations trapped in poverty in spanning less than fifty years
As we share Jesus and teach English, we work to help students to believe they can break the cycle of poverty all too common in the region. We focus on building healthy self images and work to provide motivation often lacking at home. Planting dreams and hopes in our students is central to our ministry. Dreams of attending university and hopes of a better career and future for themselves, families and communities. Hopes of happy, successful marriages. Young men and women are taught to value and respect themselves as well others both in class and out of class.
SHARING JESUS THROUGH TEACHING ENGLISH?
Sharing Jesus is always our focus. Classes begin with prayer and we use a book of the Bible, currently Acts, as our primary reading text throughout the school year. Students learn to translate passages, grammar lessons are made from some verses while ethics and morality lessons are made from others. In most classes we ask students what the writer was trying to say and discuss how it could be applied to their own lives. You might say we have a devotional time during class.
We are blessed to have some students for three or four years giving us ample opportunity to speak into many different areas of their lives such as personal challenges or familial problems they share with us. At times we help with college apps and essays and have seen Several go on to represent Brazil as Young Ambassadors to the United states.
The work is challenging and slow, but the reward great. It’s a blessing to disciple those who become Christians or to hear see students passing on to University with a full scholarship, some return home to serve their communities after graduating. The greatest reward is every year we see students come to Jesus and be baptized.
Our motto is , Study English, find faith, learn life! It all begins with there desire to learn English. Most can only pay with their smiles and love as we get to know them. If you would like to support this ministry all donations are fully tax deductible. You can donate by clicking, World Outreach Ministries. For more information or to become involved in the ministry contact us at Jakowskisinmaues@gmail.com