First United Methodist Church of Hurst Commits to Support Immigrants
Language barriers are a fundamental hurdle for new African immigrants who arrive in the United States, often preventing them from making vital connections and becoming successful in their communities. Even daily tasks like taking a bus or train, grocery shopping, finding a doctor or applying for a job can be overwhelming.
In 2013, the First United Methodist Church of Hurst committed to support this need through its Ministries with African Immigrants. The number of immigrants participating in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program for newcomers from Africa in our area (HEB) has been growing rapidly. The goal of the program is to help these friends from Africa navigate the language challenge they are facing when settling in this country, and to give them the opportunity to make the transition from outsiders to fully belonging members of a new society.
This year, the Spring 2015 ESL program has attracted more African immigrants living in Hurst, Euless, Bedford, and North Richland Hills with an average attendance of 40 to 50 participants each Saturday morning. Our instructors do much more than just teach English. They teach about banking, how to interact with police, how to obtain health care, and how to fill out applications and forms. They incorporate topics about American culture and customs. Volunteers are also available to assist and lead conversation practice.
This spring, we have expanded our ESL classes to include Spanish-speaking people along with French-speaking immigrants from Africa.
A new coaching program has also been added. Coaches assist individuals and families, helping to identify and overcome challenges they may face in the following areas: personal, health, education, budget, career, and faith. A coach’s task is not to “fix” problems; rather, coaches are called to support, guide, and encourage as well as connect newcomers with the help and resources they need to solve problems.