Chit Chat: Communication is Spelled E-F-F-O-R-T posted by jwatson on Sep 12, 2012
Here is a little story about the EE semester that is ongoing in my church.
Although the EE classes are conducted in English, one cannot assume that the people that we share the gospel with are necessarily proficient in English. In Malaysia, where I am from, most people know at least two languages or dialects – and there are many dialects. And what you are fluent in is not necessarily what the other person is fluent in. I can imagine this being an even greater challenge for countries like India and Indonesia, among others.
As it turns out, my trainee this semester has many Chinese speaking friends, and so far I’ve been in situations where I had to share the entire gospel in Chinese.
I do speak Chinese with my mother, and would consider myself reasonably proficient for day-to-day purposes. But just because you can speak a language does not mean you communicate effectively with it. In the case of the gospel I have never really used terms like “Holy Spirit”, “grace”, and “mercy” in that language before. I have also never tried to form a sentence that communicated that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins.
Without a doubt I struggled greatly with sharing the gospel in Chinese, and I am reminded that communication takes effort. Just because I am aware of the problem does not mean I have overcome it. It is easier for us to make the effort to give the message in a way that others can understand it, than for them to make the effort to understand us.
We must learn that it begins with us.
On a separate note, never underestimate the life-skills that God has given you. I have always “proudly” confessed that I was bad at Chinese in school, but now am finding it to be a key neccessity to reaching out to many friends and family members. I have to make the effort to learn it now, and I hope it’s not too late.
Maybe your cooking skills could be a platform. Maybe your carpentry, or fishing. Anything.
You really never know. It just takes some effort to make it work for them.