Thursday, April 7, 2011

We have to be able to say what?!?

Over the past week and a half we've been participants in PILAT (Program In Language Acquisition Techniques) at Missionary Training International in Palmer Lake, Colorado. This has been incredibly stretching but also incredibly valuable. We've been learning about how to learn a language, some techniques to use in doing that outside a classroom setting, and how to work with a helper who isn't trained to teach a language.

We've also been practicing various phonetic sounds to prepare us for some of the foreign sounds we'll have to reproduce in learning our target language. All I can say about that is, "Wow." The English language uses 44 different sounds to produce all the different words we use, but the human mouth is capable of producing hundreds of different sounds! So each day we have one, and sometimes two, "Phonetics Drills" where we focus on practicing a different category of phonetic sounds. Some are easier than others, some sound funnier than others, and some just flat out make you sound ridiculous.

In the midst of some of these drills that were a bit harder and made us feel a bit like morons when we struggled to say them, Meg got a verse in her email. The verse was 1 John 3:16, "By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." She shared that with me and we got to thinking; it may not be our literal lives that we are laying down, but are we willing to lay down our egos and our pride, sound like idiots for a while, for the sake of those who will be impacted by the gospel through our learning a language?

And then today, the verse was this: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). If we have died to self and Christ lives in us, shouldn't we do the kind of things He did? He came and "dwelt among us." He became one of us. He came into a specific culture, spoke a specific LANGUAGE, and showed us how to live.

My train of thought then turned to our devotion time from the very first day of PILAT. Dwight, the founder of the program, shared with us from 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 where Paul is talking about submitting himself as a slave in order that those around him might be won. All for the sake of those around him, all for the sake of the Gospel; Paul was willing to be the one who laid down his rights and his identity. 

How often are these our attitudes? Do we lay down our lives? Do we submit ourselves for the sake of those around us? What is more important to us our rights, or those around us being won? Are we willing to be the one who adapts and goes to others, or are we going to sit back and wait for people to change and adjust to us, "learn our language," before they can hear the good news?

Thanks for bearing with me through this post, I don't know that I always made sense, but I wanted to share about what is happening in us as we go through this training. I welcome any feedback or further thinking, I know I'm not completely where Jesus wants me to be in this area, but I want to be and I know He will do it in me as much as I will let Him.


Andy Bowen said...

Great stuff, Scott and Meg! This is exactly why I always regret it when missionaries "don't need to" learn a new language. Language-learning is such a formative, key time in the growth of a missionary, for exactly the reasons you mention. The process of incarnation, of laying down even that which is most personal to you--your very identity expressed in your mother tongue, and humbling yourself to allow God to remold your very self, is wrenching. But it's good!

Lori said...

I cannot imagine the hard work you are putting in right now. It will be so worth it. We are so proud of you. You are definitely laying your lives down for the people you love.