[et_pb_section admin_label="section"][et_pb_row admin_label="row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] The Challenges and Joys of Learning a New Language to Minister Cross-Culturally
When we are very young, our language-learning center of our brain is developed. There are certain sounds and ways of speaking that are developed early on. Trying to learn them later is no easy feat, but it is possible.
The tribal language of the Acholi people is unlike anything my ears had ever heard. For one thing, it is tonal. That is challenging for me, because I have bad hearing and do not hear certain tones. There are different sounds used than we use in English. I could think I’m saying one thing and yet I’m actually saying quite another. For example, in trying to say “Good morning” you can actually be telling someone that they smell bad.
I didn’t expect that I would ever be able to learn the Acholi Language, but God is not limited by our limitations.
I had the blessing of living communally for my first few years on the field. I lived with several people from South Sudan whose language was Acholi. They spoke English as well, but it was sometimes hard to communicate. It helped me to hear them constantly speaking to each other. I started to get the gist of the accent and inflections. They were also extremely gracious as I would mispronounce and mix up words. We laughed a lot together, and I had to not take myself so seriously as I learned ⎯ but rather have the mindset that in some ways I was like a child.
I believe that God blessed me with learning the language so that I can relate to the people, and also to display that it is His power working through me.
Bad ears, different cultures ⎯ nothing is too hard for Him.
Learning a new language is a privilege. Though challenging, it opens up your world and blesses the people you minister to tremendously! If we are ministering cross-culturally I believe it is imperative that we at least try to relate to them in their mother tongue, where they think and reason, in order to effectively show them that we love them, and to convey the Gospel in an easier-to-understand way.
Have you ever learned a new language? How was it for you? I would love to hear your experiences of learning new languages!
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Hi, my name is Erica and I am a God-called missionary for Northern Uganda. It is my passion and life-calling to bring God’s word to the people of the world. Each and every one of us can do our part in spreading God’s word to people in need of Jesus’ healing touch and hope. Trying to figure out if God has called you to the mission field? Do you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a missionary? Check out my book, For the Joy Set Before Us – Insights Into the Missionary Journey today.