This week we spoke to Jo Ratcliff, who has been involved in developing Uncover John Seeker Bible Studies – English for All Edition. Her contribution was to help simplify the original Uncover John studies so that they can more easily be used with internationals. And Jo herself knows only too well the struggle to find Bible study resources that are written in simple English.
Jo is a self-employed English teacher but in her spare time runs an international café in Maidstone called Unite. The café, which takes place in Costa, is run by a team of people from different local churches and they aim to help internationals practise their English in an informal context, whilst making friends and having opportunities to hear about Jesus.
In the early days, each session included a directly evangelistic segment such as a talk or testimony but over time the team veered away from this approach and decided that it would be better to ask guests to ‘opt in’ to seeker Bible studies happening elsewhere should they want to.
Encouragingly Jo has seen café guests make the transition from Unite to the church services and the Bible studies that run once a month after the church service. These studies are based on the sermon so that internationals have a second chance at understanding what was said if they got a bit lost in the sermon. The team also invite café attendees to various church-run courses such as Christianity Explored.
Uncover John – English for All Edition
When you hear the name ‘Uncover’ you probably think of university students and that’s because it was published by UCCF for use on campuses up and down the country. However, the English for All Edition has been written with internationals more generally in mind as opposed to just international university students. UCCF said it realises that ‘thousands more people with English as an additional language live in our neighbourhoods and work in our towns and cities.’ In particular it was thinking of ‘international cafes and church-based small groups and 121s’ when producing this version of Uncover John.
Jo was involved in this rewriting process and studies now include glossaries for each session. She admits that it still probably wouldn’t be suitable for the very lowest of levels and is most appropriate for Upper – Intermediate learners or above. However, she believes that lower levels could also benefit were someone to take time with them to explain key phrases and even paraphrase certain bits.
When asked if Jo recommended these studies she said. ‘Definitely! The Uncover Bible studies were written to help people see Jesus through the eyes of the biographer and therefore give a fresh view of Jesus. They aim to break down misconceptions people may have and use an inductive approach, inviting the reader into the Bible story, with key vocabulary defined along the way.’ If you’re interested in getting hold of a copy, you can order yours here.