Frances’ Story – Teaching English in Reading

I’m 50 years old, trained as a nursery nurse, and was working as a teaching assistant when our lives took an unexpected turn in 2010. My youngest child, aged 13, developed serious mental health problems and I was forced to give up work in order to become his full time carer. This was a really traumatic time for us as a family and moment by moment, we were forced to depend wholly and completely on God’s grace, love and power.

About this time, our church began talking about starting English Conversation classes. I became involved from the beginning as a teaching assistant. As it was an evening class I could spare the time knowing that my husband was at home to care for my son. I quickly came to look forward to Monday evenings, and felt honoured to be part of this exciting adventure. Throughout this time God began speaking to me about training as a teacher. At first I struggled to understand how this could possibly happen. My son’s illness meant that he could never be left alone. I often went without sleep and had to deal with crises on a daily basis. I remember arguing with God saying ‘Don’t you know what I’m going through?’ God was patient with me. I believe he gave me the gift of faith to believe that I could trust him, no matter what. If he wanted me to teach, he would give me the time, energy, strength and peace to complete the training.

During 2012, I took 8 months to complete the TESOL course by distance learning, working through the material at home, and getting experience through continuing to be involved at Bridges. I began teaching alongside Maura Baldwin, in September 2012.

What a journey it has been. I love meeting people from all over the world and as well as enabling them to improve their English, it is wonderful to see God at work in their lives. Along with my husband I have enjoyed befriending some of the students. We have had the privilege of opening God’s word, through ‘Christianity Explored’, building relationships over a cup of coffee, or inviting them into our home to share Christmas with our family. Some students have started to attend our Sunday morning services which is thrilling to see, and such an encouragement to the Bridges team.

As I look back I can see the way God has prepared me for this work through my experiences as a child growing up in a Christian home where the door was always open, to my work as a teaching assistant where I had done a Higher Level Teaching Assistant qualification which enabled me to cover classes, and also delivered the Beginner English Programme, working with children for whom English was not their first language.

God has taught me so much as I lean on him moment by moment. I look forward to what God has in store for the years to come, praying that many of our international friends will learn to know Him, love Him and serve Him as their own personal Saviour. Thanks be to God!