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Reader feedback: Tell us about your FriendSpeak experience

Kelly Shaw, right, a member of the Culver Palms Church of Christ in Los Angeles, reads with Teresa Nicolin from Mexico as part of the FriendSpeak ministry. (Photo by Ron Cox)

Blogging from Los Angeles
The Culver Palms Church of Christ, where I was privileged to worship on a recent Sunday morning, is one of the nation’s most diverse congregations — with English, Chinese, Spanish and Korean speakers sharing the same building.
One of the first things you notice at Culver Palms is a sign outside the church building that advertises “Free English Conversation.”
Each Tuesday night, the church uses the national FriendSpeak ministry to teach neighbors conversational English using the Bible.

Angela and Mark Manassee (Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.)

At Culver Palms, Angela Manassee, wife of minister Mark Manassee, coordinates FriendSpeak, the domestic version of Let’s Start Talking.
Asked if FriendSpeak is evangelistic in nature, Angela Manassee said it is.
“The Word speaks for itself, and we’re reading through the Word,” she said. “We can share our life, but we don’t need to come on strong, because the Word really illustrates it. It really does. We are the illustration of what it means to be a Christian. So, in that whole process of becoming friends and helping them in their life improve an area, I think the Word really does it all.”
Read a feature that my Chronicle colleague Erik Tryggestad wrote last year on Culver Palms’ International Day.
For a future story, I would love to hear from other people either involved with FriendSpeak or touched by it. Please share your comments below, including your home congregation, city and state, in case we decide to quote you.

  • Feedback
    Last Sunday morning, I met Elza, a Brazilian woman, at our late service. Here English wasn’t great so I recommended she get help through our Friendspeak ministry. She came back Sunday evening and got plugged in. She’s learning English. . .and learning about the Lord.
    Friendspeak is an amazing ministry at Prestoncrest! Dozens of internationals (mostly Chinese) come to our building each week to work on their English with our volunteers. Using the book of Luke, we’ve had many conversions during the year and a half I’ve served here as Preaching Minister. I’m so thankful for this ministry!
    Gordon Dabbs
    August, 5 2010

    Thanks, Gordon! Appreciate the feedback.
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    August, 5 2010

    We are blessed to be involved in FriendSpeak here in Edmond as well!The Edmond church of Christ has a growing FriendSpeak ministry mainly invloving our Korean community. I love getting to know different people and spending time sharing God’s Word together.
    Courtney Curtis
    August, 5 2010

    While we have a ton of room for improvement, reaching the international students and professors on our campus that come from all over the world through the Friends Speak ministry is a great opportunity. Several years ago the Chinese government sent a visiting professor to Huntsville, Texas to study the United States Criminal Justice System at Sam Houston State University (CJ central).
    Somehow, I got the chance to help with him with his English and become a much-needed friend for the year he was here. He was the top guy for the Chinese National Police Academy and we were having conversations about Jesus! It was an amazing chance to see God work…and he used Friends Speak to do it.
    Chris Blair
    August, 5 2010

    I was privileged to be part of FriendSpeak about 15 years ago at the Heritage Church of Christ in MI. I believe it was one of the first churches to adopt this program.
    I will never forget how wonderfully it enabled me to build relationships with a few different reading partners–one from Bolivia, one from Armenia, and one from China. Reading together from the Bible made it easy to move away from small talk into substantive discussions together about life and faith. It was so natural and easy to connect on a heart level as we read the life of Jesus and discussed the questions together.
    The stories from Luke touched each one of my Reading Partners in a different way. I remember in particular the woman from China, who had no previous exposure to Jesus, reading the story of the Lost Son. She became so excited. She said, “These words–‘was lost and now is found’–I know these words! They are from a song I heard on the radio! I do not know what the song is about, but I love it so much!” It was, of course, “Amazing Grace.” She also said, “We have a name for this kind of son in China. He leaves but comes back and is worth more than gold.” She wrote out the Chinese characters for this phrase and they are still hanging on my bulletin board, 15 years later, a living testimony to me about how God’s Word is truly multicultural, and especially about how the Holy Spirit is acting in people’s hearts, preparing them to hear the Good News, long before we ever meet them.
    Now I’m pleased to report that my church in Virginia will be starting a FriendSpeak program this winter. I’m thrilled to be part of FriendSpeak once again!
    Noreen Bryant
    August, 5 2010

    My wife, Jan, and I have been doing “Friends Speak” since 2004; it has been and is now an easy way to do somethings we have always wanted to do. We wanted to be more outgoing and to meet new people, and we wanted to be able to read the Bible with people. We have made many new friends and have spent many pleasant hours discussing things that are important to us and our friends. This experience caused us to begin a Friday evening Bible study for some of our oldest “Friends Speak” friends when we had completed all of the workbooks provided.
    Because we enjoyed “Friends Speak” so much, we also began asking about what would be required of us to travel to another country with Let’s Start Talking. To date, we have gone on 10 LST trips of 3 to 6 weeks. I just do not know of another program that supports Mission points the way LST does. We really assist missionaries in making new contacts that are ready and wanting to study the word. We feel rewarded by both programs. We have kept in touch with many of our readers who have moved to take on new vocations in other cities. We feel as if they have become our children.
    Ron Haker
    Ron Haker
    August, 6 2010

    Appreciate all the great feedback!
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    August, 7 2010

    During 2003 shortly after Prestoncrest church of Christ in Dallas began Friend Speak, the champion of the program for Prestoncrest, elder, George Miller, asked me to join in. Reluctantly, I told him I would participate at one of the two weekly sessions. That commitment lasted all the way through the first session – – and I began participating at both our weekly sessions. I consider the request of George a life change for me. I’ve worked with so many facinating people, not one of whom has ever shown anything but intense interest in Bible study, it has changed my entire life style and certainly my Bible study habits. A book could be written about the many people who have now influenced my life. The best story I have relates to the young lady who came with her mother, natives of Colombia, South America. That young lady is now my daughter-in-law . . . baptized, along with her mother, at Prestoncrest and a Worker in Friend Speak, currently working with a Muslim lady from Iran while I work with the lady’s husband (a wonderful couple). How blessed could a person hope to be? I’ve reached the pinnacle.
    Robert McAfee
    August, 7 2010

    I have enjoyed using the FriendSpeak curriculum with my Iranian friend at the Park Plaza Church of Christ. It’s always fun to watch him learn a new expression that he’s never heard before. Yesterday we discussed Acts 3:11-16 and I said Peter bascially “lowers the boom” on his audience. He looked at me with a blank stare. I really hope this has something to do with being hit by boom on a sailboat – that’s how I explaned it!
    David Brookman
    August, 9 2010

    I began working with a young Japanese lady last fall. She was really only interested in vocabulary, word usage and conversation skills. However, as we neared the end of Luke (the basis of the FriendSpeak notebook) she began to ask more questions about content. She learned her husband was to be transferred back to Japan the end of July. We doubled up the lessons in order to finish before she left. As she read the last lesson – the Resurrection and Ascension she sat back and said “What a story, I never heard the whole story.” “I will have to read my Bible, now.” It was such a faithbuilding experience for me to see the power of the Word – no direct teaching, no interpretation – the power of the story of Jesus. She is not a believer but I pray God will water the seed that has been sown. I worship at the Grapevine Church of Christ in Grapevine, TX. I had thought I might not take another reader but watching the Word work was a privilege I hope to continue being a part of.
    Evelyn Davis
    August, 11 2010

    As a campus church serving the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the Laurel Church of Christ is uniquely positioned to minister to international students. Our International Class on Wednesday nights uses Friendspeak material to work with over 50 Chinese and Korean students, several of whom are close to making a commitment. We also try to send members every year to work with one of our missionaries in China, again, using Friendspeak. The report is always the same, team members have more people wanting to study than they could ever get to in a two week trip. In the last year, six native Chinese have been baptized as a direct result of our Friendspeak trips.
    Mark Smith
    August, 11 2010

    One of our teammates for our Beijing LST project is from Syracuse, NY. Her name is Doris Coomey. A couple that had read with her in the Friend Speak program in Syracuse several years ago (while they finished their degrees) had become very dear friends, but had moved back to China. While our team was in Beijing with LST, that reader traveled to Beijing from her home in China to help us find more readers. It was amazing that this lovely, well-educated, Chinese woman would leave her family to come help us…and help her countrymen learn about Jesus as they practice their English. God is calling and people everywhere are coming to Him.
    Rhonda Turk
    August, 12 2010

    Our congregation here in Winnipeg, Canada uses the Friendspeak program. Our city receives thousands of new immigrants each year and of course many come without English. We advertise and both new Canadians as well as intermational students come to spend one-on-one time with us reading and discussing Jesus by using the book of Luke. The program is a great way for those who enjoy meeting new people and learning about other cultures to use their talents. This is the best program I have been involved with as it uses the talents and interests I have to share my faith and try to be the “illustration” of how Jesus would act toward others. We have met so many from numerous places and our church family is a warm and friendly group for these new comers. We know we are seed planters and are willing to wait for God to give the increase. I would encourage other churches to try this program as I’m sure it would enrich and bless all involved.
    My husband and I enjoy FS and this year went away on an LST project to Mexico. It too was a great experience and one that I would recommend.
    betty-jean johnson
    August, 15 2010

    I have had at least 5 FriendSpeak Conversation Partners over the past years. Each one unique and wonderful. My first was a young college young lady from Vietnam. We had been reading together for 6 months when her roommate said she had to find another place to stay, so she moved in with my husband and I and she became like a daughter to us. We continued our study sessions for another years while she finished community college. When it came time for her to leave for Lubbock, Texas to continue her degree in Biology, she had not made her decision to accept the Christ’s Good News. But, a few months later she called and said she wanted to come back for a weekend visit. When she arrived she told us she wanted to be baptized. It was a very great day! Recently I have been reading FriendSpeak with a lady from Laos who is from a Buddhist background. She really likes the teachings of Jesus because His teachings are very much like Buddha. But now we are studying Acts and she is beginning to see how Jesus and Buddha are different and how Jesus died and rose again and gave us the Holy Spirit. She is also learning about God’s grace and how a life of good works is not going to save her and how acceptance is the only way to God. FriendSpeak is a ministry that changes people’s hearts and lives by allowing the Word to be the teacher. The Word is alive and speaks the Truth with passion.
    Alva von Heimburg
    August, 23 2010

Filed under: News Extras Reader Feedback Travel Reports

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