When I was called to the mission field here in Vietnam I was told by a very dear friend that I did not need to learn the language. Well, that was probably one of the worst things that anyone could tell a missionary. For to show any care or love for the people or the culture in which one will be ministering, they must desire to learn the language. I have been back and forth here about 11 times over the past 5 ½ years and have picked up some phrases but I have never really been serious about learning the language until now
So upon my arrival, one of my goals for the time I was going to be in country was to learn Vietnamese. It is a musical language that requires the ability to hear pitches and tones. For most of you that know me, you know that I can not hear either a pitch or a tone. In fact, I am unable to properly speak my own native language let alone learn a foreign language. My friend that I grew up with came to listen to me preach a few months back and said, “Man you still have a way of redefining the English language.” So, this challenge of learning a hard foreign language will not be an easy one for me.
However I can tell you that it will be well worth it. For once the language is learned, the people to whom I am ministering will recognize the effort that had to be put forth to learn their native tongue and they will realize my sincere love for them. It is not enough to tell someone that you love them, for true love usually is accompanied with a sacrificial act. Just listen to how the Lord describes His love, “God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son.” Once I learn the language I will be able to communicate with the people without a translator, which means it will become more personal. This also is true of the Gospel. Because of Christ's work on the cross, we do not need a translator to communicate our heart to God. Through Christ, we have become a priest who has direct access to God. It is personal.
The young Pastor who is helping me learn the language has been a good friend of mind since the first time I arrived. I have spent hours upon hours with him and another young man teaching them English, and how to study the Bible. So this relationship that we have has now taken a little shift, where I am the one gleaning from him and he is the one depositing in me. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of, Where we both have something to offer to one another and without each other it would be nearly impossible to become what God has called us to become. This is the picture of the body of Christ that each member is unique but without the other members it simply does not function well at all.