Updated: Sep 10, 2021
What you are going to read below is from a guy we did language school with in Costa Rica and loved its context and application. As we have transitioned to full-time ministry work we often question our abilities with language. Often times it is in the form of the question... "Who are we really helping?" This blog does a great job of not only helping us but I think does a great job of helping the "outside viewer" get a glimpse into our world.
After I finished teaching a group of young people in Costa Rica, my dad (a fluent Spanish speaker) graciously pointed out to me the reason two teenage boys had been giggling throughout my talk. I had just spent the past hour repeating a word that, though technically correct in translation, had inappropriate connotations (the kind that teenage boys can’t help but giggle about).
Though I have spoken some Spanish all of my life, I have yet to master it. There are days I come home, pat myself on the back, and tell myself, “You’ve really got the hang of this now.” But those days are rare and far between. Most of the time, I walk in the door feeling slightly defeated as I replay my blunders.
But language learners must not reflect long on their mistakes, remembering that God works in us — including our weaknesses and missteps — to will and to work for his pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Our motivation to continue learning rests not in how quickly we learn, or even in how effectively we communicate. If this were the case, I would have given up long ago. Rather, after twenty-plus years of butchering the Spanish language, my motivation comes from God, who has the power to use my imperfect speech to spread the news of his love for us in Christ to more Spanish-speaking people.
If God’s chosen people are going to hear and receive the gospel, many of us will have to learn a second language. Through my studies and struggles, I have stumbled on five ways God is glorified in the process of learning languages to reach the lost of every tribe, nation, and tongue.