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  • Writer's picturePreston Fidler

Language Partners

I am so glad God brought Yohannes into my life to help me reach gospel fluency!

Several months into our language experience in our new city we moved into a duplex with the local community mosque compound on one side and the community football pitch on the other. We began to meet our neighbors and soon our lives were full of invitations from tea with the women to football matches with the men.

Every day, conversations flowed from one topic to the next, and I did my best to share the gospel whenever I could. It was about that time that I began to have my quiet time in my new language, and I shared this with my language partner, Yohannes.

Yohannes, a new believer, began doing something with me which changed the course of my life. He heard me try to share the gospel, and saw that I needed a lot of help. So he told me to share with him whatever I had been reading from God’s word that morning during my quiet time.

I truly believe God brought Yohannes into my life for this purpose. I would very simply re-tell whatever I had read that morning, in my own words. Yohannes would patiently listen to me. Then he would ask a question. Maybe another. Or offer a thought. The more we did this, the richer our discussions became. We went through many Bible passages and talked about many things that helped me better understand how Yohannes, and therefore how my neighbors, heard the gospel. You see, Yohannes was not only my language partner, he was also my neighbor, and theirs.

As I prepared and practiced working through the gospel by myself, and then with Yohannes, I found myself, in my mind and heart, more ready, confident, and eager to share the gospel in my new language with my lost neighbors.

I would return home and sit with the guys at the mosque after prayers, or on the soccer pitch after practice. We would talk and through our conversation I would share Christ with them, every day, more and more, from God’s word. I was becoming fluent in the gospel in the language of my neighbors. And God was using Yohannes in this process.

I am more convinced than ever that we need to bathe all of our “language partner” relationships in prayer, seeking the Lord’s favor and wisdom as we invest time, energy, and money into these key players in our work.

Language partners, nurturers, helpers, and conversation partners, usually hired, hold a huge stake in our learning. They are the ones who generally provide the intermediary controlled input and output we need to stay within our language learning zone.

Language partners who have this disproportionate role and impact on this language learning transfer process, and are critical toward creating the environment needed to do so, represent the single most influential resource to ensure our overall results. That is, they provide our best resource for controlled and powerful input and output practice.

This can be our best practice toward sustained fluency. That means we need to carefully consider what we need from them. The best way to do this is to prepare well, and to present and dialogue on many topics of great interest every day. We must draw from our language partners the critical and helpful feedback only they can provide, in the high-investment environment we create with them.

We need to be surrounded by language partners who are invested in our progress, who take interest in helping us, who truly partner with us in the process.

We need to pray for our language partners. As significant as their roles are in our lives, so our roles are in their lives, particularly in our gospel witness. God will work in and through these relationships for his glory as we pursue fruitful language and ministry.

How do you envision working with a language partner?

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