This article is a continuation of a series of articles that I think are of vital importance. You need to be prepared for the work that God has for you on the mission field. These articles are trying to give you a way to think through what you should be doing to get prepared.
I would welcome in comments or questions. I would love to enter into a discussion with you on this subject. My heart is to help, to encourage, to cause you to think, to cause you to work on being prepared for your ministry.
1.Have you ever attempted to learn a foreign language and if you did how did it go for you?
One of the greatest fears I had when it came to going to the mission field was learning a foreign language. I had not had good experiences in high school or college. I had repeatedly been told that I did not have language ability. I believed them and still do to this day!
Most of us speak our native language well enough but have no understanding of our own language. We do not know what it means to conjugate a verb. We do not understand our basic parts of speech.
Also we may be so proud that we will not accept correction with a good attitude. We are to used to being in charge to go back to the role of a learner, a child, a newbie as we learn the language.
You can learn the language. That is not really in question. The question is are you willing to pay the price to learn the language. Language learning costs, not so much money as pride, time, embarrassment, humilty, etc.
Jake Taube, missionary to Taiwan, has written some great articles on language learning that I would like to challenge you to read.
Jake has also recently published a book that I strongly suggest that you read. It is about your getting ready for the mission field. You can get the book here.
I know Jake well. I know his heart. I know you will enjoy this book and want to share it with your friends.
Mark Tolson has also written about how to evaluate your language learning. Click here to read that article.
The best book that I know of on learning a language is Language Acquisition Made Practical. The book is increasingly harder to get but worth it if you can.
You must learn the language. Without the language you will not be able to do the work nearly as effectively. No matter who tells you that you can work through a translator that is never as good.
So start studying your own language. Read up on learning languages. Make up your mind that you will pay the price to learn the language.
I have an agreement with the missionaries that I work with that if they do not become effective in the language that they will change countries where they can minister effectively.
Check out these other articles of interest. How to learn another language. Ideas for Language School. More on the Language School. Language Learning Ideas Here is a podcast that we did that deals with learning the language and cross cultural work. Click here.
2.How many books have you read on getting prepared for cross-cultural work? Which ones?
Working cross culturally is much harder than you think. The truth is that it isn’t hard in itself. The hard part is the missionary being willing to humble himself and not think of himself or his culture as being superior.
Many of us grew up in small towns. Going to the big city in itself is cross cultural. The big city simply does things differently than those that live in very rural environments.
Very likely you will be tempted to withdraw, think badly of, or whatever those that do life so differently than what you are used to.
I would like to encourage you to meet others from a different background and get to know them even now. I would like you to study the Bible and how God wanted His men to deal with others.
I would like to invite you to go back and read The Part Understanding Culture Plays in World Evangelism. The second part of that article is found here.
Don’t take your culture with you. Is a podcast that I believe might be interesting to you.
I would like to take this opportunity to suggest some books that I feel like are crucial for you to read.
There are many more books that you should read but this is enough to get you started. I hope you will begin reading, studying, thinking and preparing for where God is sending you.
Have you set up a reading plan that will help you read and study to prepare the best possible before jumping headlong into the mission field?
I hope that you are busy getting reading. You can be prepared and should be!