Updated: Feb 11, 2019
The ability to communicate with the people you are ministering to is both an honor and necessity. While we are so incredibly blessed by translators who are invaluable, there is something very freeing about speaking without a third party privy to your conversation. Being able to connect with people in their heart language breaks down so many barriers and misconceptions. I have seen firsthand over the last 9 years that when you learn a new language, new insight into the culture also occurs. Deep friendships are formed quickly when you can move beyond a few polite greetings.
While sometimes it is challenging to (once again) be misunderstood or unable to articulate clearly, every day is full of humbling opportunities to learn and grow. We are often in cultural settings where it is perceived that the western missionary has arrived with all the answers, and many people (especially in the rural village setting) believe lies of inferiority and inadequacy. As we humble ourselves to study a new language we learn from our new country… and they are given a chance to see that we obviously are still in process.
DR Congo has an estimated 242 languages spoken throughout the country. As our team prepares to move to DRC full-time, we have chosen to study French as it is one of the official languages. We are confident of God’s intentions to reveal His love and truth to a nation who has known brokenness, pain, and darkness for far too long. There is such freedom and healing that happens when there is a place to be heard and known, so part of our ministry will be listening to people’s stories.
Over the last few months of language school I have been encouraged by Paul and his confidence that lives would be transformed not by the eloquence or wisdom of his words but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Surely God worked through his weakness to demonstrate the heart of Abba Father toward the people Paul was ministering to. While our intentions are never to continue sounding like children with our grammar and vocabulary, I am so thankful that God will use us to accomplish His purposes before we are 100% fluent in French.