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In Translation: Three Stories about Language

Compiled by Lydia Gingerich

Language learning is one of the least glamorous yet most important aspects of working cross-culturally. When learning the language gets difficult, it can cause doubts, feelings of inadequacy, and a sense that ministry is put on hold. But success can result in the ability to speak with locals on a deeper level, greater ease to maneuver in a country, and countless insights into a culture.

This month, we received three updates celebrating the joys of learning a language and the possibilities that come with it.


Judah and Rayna,* the Middle East:

We continue to look for more ways to integrate ourselves deeper and deeper into the culture and way of life here. This is a beautiful country and a beautiful people. We value the opportunities we have to learn more about this place we live in. Just this week, we had the privilege of sharing breakfast together with our neighbors, spending time with them and sharing together with them. We look for opportunities and open doors to speak the truth into people’s lives and it is exciting to have the opportunity to share with our various friends. As exciting as these opportunities are, they also remind us of our need to continue working on our language, as we normally encounter topics where our language falls short. We have come a long way from where we started, but we still have plenty of room for improvement.

Cora,* North Africa:

I had a really encouraging time with some local friends last week. I needed to buy some things in the old city so I asked the daughter of the family if she wanted to go with me and she agreed. I arrived at their house where they greeted me and said they missed me so much and asked why I hadn’t visited for a long time (this is a classic response even if you aren’t very close with someone, but it still was a nice welcome). The daughter wasn’t ready when I got there so her mother, sister, and aunt told me to sit down and join them. They were in the middle of eating lunch, so of course I needed to join them and eat something. But then we went about normal conversation (in the local language) about how I had been doing. Everything felt so normal and I tell you about it, because this rarely happens and when it does, it feels like a gift! I was able to follow what they were saying pretty easily and give them all my news in a way they understood. Then in the end, they wanted to take care of me and make sure I got good prices in the old city, so the mom told her daughter specifically where to take me and who to buy from. It was such a thoughtful gesture! These are the times that I feel at home and am so thankful for the people around me that show so much love!

Butos and Amina,* North America:

We just came back from five weeks at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics training campus of Wycliffe, SIL in Dallas, Texas. It was a great time of retreat and refreshing Amina’s linguistic/translation training to take our next step – oral Bible translation for the unreached population we work with.

Yes, it's a big work and an almost impossible task. But God has confirmed to us, that "All things are possible with Him." Just as “by faith we are saved,” so also, by faith, the Holy Spirit will also enable us translate His Word accurately into this language. Praise God for many divine connections with some Bible translation partners, instructors, consultants who will continue to help us in this process. We are so excited and looking forward to seeing God’s miraculous work.

*Names changed for security


Please pray for workers around the world who are learning and relating in a new language. Pray that God would give them the right words at the right time so that all nations will be invited to worship Jesus.