I had never equated TEFL with tentmaking. The two seem miles apart. While I could lead a class through the present perfect, I would never so much as darn a sock, let alone make a tent.
Working my way through the excellent post on the Global Connections website, entitled ‘The Challenge of tentmaking‘, I have seen the 2 skills in a new light and they are now linked inextricably in my mind. In the bible, Paul was a tent-maker (Acts 18.1-3) – and it wasn’t because he had a lovely hobby he couldn’t bear to leave behind.
So why was Paul’s tent making significant and in what ways is the tent making of then similar to teaching EFL now? I’ve been encouraged to see a few similarities:
1) Paul was a tent maker so he wouldn’t be a burden to those around him. This means he could support himself while focussing on his real purpose, which was encouraging the growth of the new church in Corinth, Greece. In a similar way, we can help ourselves and those around us if we have a skill, such as being able to teach English, that is in demand.
2) Tents were of practical use then. English, just like tent-making, is of real use all over the world now. The ability to teach English gives you access to areas and people you might otherwise never have.
3) There is something special about integrating evangelism with your regular work – being salt and light in every-day situations which you share with others.
In ‘The vital work of tent making in Paul’s mission strategy‘ Ruth Siemens states that:
‘…integrating work and witness is the genius of tentmaking! It is not regular missionary work under the guise of a secular job. It is a unique approach to ministry.’
Ruth then explains just how Paul expected converts to evangelise in their working lives.
(Page 125 in the above link.)
Sorry, we don’t offer tent making courses here. But we do offer TEFL training courses so you can get skilled in this fascinating area and use your qualifications to serve others.
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