Love in any Language
My husband, kids and I are missionaries in Portugal. Before you scratch your head and wonder where Portugal is, let me spare you. MOST people (including some employees of the USPS) actually believe we are in South America and speaking Spanish, but no, we are in Western Europe and speaking Portuguese. I was a psychology major and my husband was a sociology major, which is probably how we ended up as missionaries...we obviously have a love for learning about new people and cultures.
I tell you what though...even with my love of people and cultures, it has been challenging here. God has used this experience to teach me so much (which I am truly grateful for) and I thought I might challenge you all to learn a little something that I have been learning...are you ready for it?!
Learn a new language! Now, before you write me off and say, “Are you crazy lady?” let me explain. One thing God has definitely taught me living here is the importance of learning peoples “heart language.” That is why we HAVE to learn Portuguese. And it is HARD! But to explain Jesus to them in their language and see “the light come on” in their heads makes all my pain of language learning WORTH IT! But, let me tell you, I haven’t just had to learn Portuguese; I have had to learn their CULTURAL language as well, if that makes sense. Portuguese people have a completely different view on life than Americans. They value things differently, eat (strange) foods, parent different, relate to God different, etc. Here’s one example of how the culture is so different here: there are AT LEAST three different DAILY magazines just about futebol (soccer). And every day the old men read and discuss them. My husband and I have laughed about this… I mean, what on EARTH could be so different in the world of futebol every single day ?!
Our beautiful city!
But if we want to present the Gospel to people, and I sure hope you do, we need to learn to speak to them…not only in their language (English, German, Chinese, etc.) but also in their cultural context. Only then can it make sense to them. You can even see examples of this in the Bible. Did you know the four gospels were written to four different audiences…using language and arguments that would make sense to that people group?! Why did Jesus speak in parables? To keep things simple, so that His audience could understand what he was saying. Why did Paul quote so much of the Old Testament in his speeches? To help convince the Jews that Jesus was in fact their Messiah. Are you with me so far?!
Alright…stick with me. Hopefully you know by now that I’m not telling you to rush out and learn Russian…I mean, what’s the use unless there is a giant Russian community in your neighborhood, but what I am saying is, find a “new” people group to mingle with. Let’s face it, most of us reading this blog right now are in the middle of “mother-hood.” We have our own language, do we not?! We speak of c-sections and play dates and to “elf on a shelf or not” and new recipes…right?! You KNOW those without children are terrified of us They wonder what foreign language we’re speaking…I mean, “what the heck is a bumpo or a boppy or a binky?!”
Learn to speak someone elses’ heart language - Volunteer in a prison (their language goes against everything you learned at school, but they’re in a humbled place and more open to hear). Find out if there is a local University with foreign students who I happen to know are just dying to be invited into an American home and while you’re at it, learn a little about their culture...you and your kids will be blessed! Find a group of young professionals (this is a BIG group in America and one that personally terrifies me with their talks of stocks and spreadsheets, but they need Jesus!). Sign up to work with the teenagers at church. Talk about another language! You better be up to speed on texting, facebooking and twittering…because it sometimes seems that the only way they communicate is through technology…and in code at that. (do you all know the meaning of: BTW, G2G, ROFL, AUD, BM - not the BM I was thinking!)
All this to say, the opportunities ABOUND around you to “learn a new language”. Just be creative! There are SO many people in your neighborhood that desperately need to hear about Christ! Join a neighborhood softball team, or book club or photography class. They just need someone to “speak their language.” And God needs someone willing to do it...is it you?!So, there…that’s my challenge. Try it…I promise, the rewards are worth the risks!