What is your next faithful step?
What is my next faithful step? (Dean Polk, CP Team Leader, Central Asia)
What do we do to learn language that gets us to a level where we can fluently communicate the gospel in that language? I’ve often asked this question of coworkers who demonstrate effective learning and ministry practices. Here are some of the responses I have received.
“I start with what I understand, and work on saying it well; I make sure that I have people around me who can say it more beautifully; I then begin to know it when I hear it - yeah, like that! - and soon begin to say it that way.”
“I go through things with believers having them edit what I am trying to say. I listen to them when they say, ‘A non-believer is going to misunderstand you when you say this.’”
“I keep pushing myself to learn above my level.”
“Repetition. I don’t memorize. But I read and listen over and over, for understanding, and for fluent expression of the message, the meaning, the ideas. My goal is to just know it.”
“I work on the transitions. For example, I learn how to create bridges to the presentation, and to the invitation.”
“I learn how to define the terms, simply, using scripture as my guide.”
"I work on what I am saying with believers and with non-believers, asking them to help me say it better.”
“I practice by myself. I work on saying it well. I rehearse. I have conversations with myself all the time, on the bus, in the shower.”
“I practice listening to someone talk, mentally engaged with them on the topic, or simultaneously translating (if it's in English), especially when I don’t have to immediately respond in real life - like listening to a sermon.”
“I asked the Lord for a conversation partner who I could disciple in the language.”
“From day one I began learning verses. I learned to share my testimony, rehearsed but not memorized, within weeks, not months. I also learned simple prayers and hymns. Most importantly, I sought and found ministry opportunities to use all of these as soon as I learned them, and as often as possible.”
“We started doing family devotions in both English and our new language.”
How do we react to these responses? Are we inspired? Intimidated? Encouraged? Many of us quite honestly may just feel overwhelmed and perhaps somewhat discouraged, for a lot of reasons. I’d like to re-wind a bit, and start with a prior question, that may make more sense to us:
What can we do right now, today, and tomorrow, and the next day, that will get us on a good path toward fluently proclaiming and teaching the gospel in our new language?
I appreciate Dean's response when I asked him how he learned his new language:
“I always ask myself this question, ‘What is my next faithful step?’”