Fruitful Practices #2- Language Fluency

By A SEND Worker
Tags: Muslim Ministry, Southeast Asia, Story
Fruitful Practices

In the last SEND Hope & Light enewsletter, we introduced the first of eight “fruitful practices” observed in most successful church plants. We should mention that the researchers who first introduced these practices noted that they are not exact “cookie-cutter” methods to be followed like a recipe. Nor are they scientific formulas that come with the assurance that if you “do this,” you will “get that.”

Every ministry context is different. However, from the observation and study of multiple mission agencies involved in successful church planting, these common threads of “fruitful practices” seem to be present in some capacity across the board. Though these practices have proven to be effective in many contexts, we humbly recognize that God is the only One who can truly bring    about fruit. We are    blessed by God to    cultivate and    encourage growth in  others, but only He    can bring real          transformation and    growth.

Language Fluency

A worker once said, “Nothing says, ‘I love you,’ more than learning and speaking a person’s native language.” The task of learning a foreign language can be greatly challenging, and cross-cultural workers find many reasons to stop short of the finish line, in terms of complete fluency.

Though it can be tempting to quit, language fluency is a very important practice that we, as cross-cultural workers for Jesus, must encourage and support wholeheartedly.  We must advise fellow workers to persevere with language studies until they can pray and tell stories in the language in which the local people laugh and cry.  We must encourage them to study until they feel they cannot stuff another word into their brains, go take a short mental break, and then come back and study some more.  

One More Word

Even after they jump into ministry, we must encourage other missionaries to never stop learning. I know of a Finnish worker who served in a country for almost 30 years. She took language lessons right up until she returned to her home country.  Frustrated with my own language lessons after one year, I asked this worker why, when she had better language skills than the vast majority of the people she was trying to reach, she kept taking these “wretched language lessons?”  She looked at me, and I will never forget her answer.  Gently, humbly, and with a tear in her eye, she said, “If I can learn one more word that will help me communicate the love of Jesus to this people, I want to learn that word!”

As Kingdom workers, we need to move beyond the temptation to “just get by” with enough language to get through the day. We need to pray and ask for a passion to learn the language well, in order that people who have never heard or understood the love of Christ may finally hear and understand the life-changing message of the Gospel.

Read more about Fruitful Practice #1- Prayer.

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