Question about Missionary Training for missionaries:
"Can I become a missionary if I donít want to learn another language?"
Also consider the global market for you as an English teacher. If you're a native English speaker, you could go just about anywhere in the world to teach or tutor English. Language doesn't need to be a barrier. Visit ESL-jobs.com, a website that mobilizes Christians to take jobs teaching English as a second language in Asia. These are ministry positions, but they also offer some income.
Finally, examine your heart concerning the language issue. Are you unwilling to try to learn at least some of a foreign language? You should do some language learning to show the love of Christ wherever you go.
If you're unwilling to learn another language, then I would definitely advise you to work only among those who speak a language common to you both.
In any case, I encourage you to ask the Lord to bring you freedom to fulfill his purposes. Honestly express your fears to God. If learning another language would best fulfill his purposes for you, then start praying for a transformation in your heart and mind and for the grace and courage to take up the challenge.
For those who are not certain they will spend their whole lives in a country, ministry in English (among university students for example) has been shown to be extremely effective. Actually ministry done in the native language can be less effective in some cases, because it less of a draw to the average student who may not initially be interested in Christianity but is very interested in improving their English. Many students would never attend a Bible study in their own language but will come to one in English.
While every missionary opportunity might not be so radical as trying to learn a pictographic language from an alphabetic frame of mind, I must say up front that learning the language does indeed offer a great deal more opportunities for outreach. If you're serious about reaching the lost, then they must be able to comprehend you and your message. A simple "Jesus loves you" may be profound in America but it's lost in translation in Taiwan where Jesus is merely one god among many.
God will help you along the way. You have to trust that. My wife (a Taiwanese pastor's daughter) is a teacher at a local elementary school. After I failed out of my first semester at language college I made the joke to her that since I failed out of college, maybe I should go back to the first grade and start over. She took me seriously and enrolled me in the first grade the next day. It has led to the two greatest years of my life as I have struggled to learn Chinese along with forty eight-year-olds who think it funny that they have a 40+ year-old fellow student. God opened the door, I merely walked through. He can do the same for you.
In short, if you don't want to take the time to learn the language, your effectiveness as a minister of the gospel is sorely limited. You might do good deeds but you'll never be able to preach the honest and full gospel as it was intended: "Jesus came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost."
If they have learned English as a second (or third, or fourth language), you may be able to communicate to the ears and mind in English. If, however, you want to communicate to the heart, that is much better accomplished in their own language.
As a practical example, I married a "national." Many of our conversations involve both languages, because we communicate best in our heart languages. Even though he learned English from me and is quite fluent, if he really wants to communicate with me, he switches to his own language. I do the same thing.
To reach the other's heart, we each use the other's heart language. I believe it's the same way in a witnessing situation. If you want to reach the heart, that is best done in the heart language, even if your accent is obvious and your grammar is imperfect ... and even if you feel that you haven't made it as clear as you could in English. The Holy Spirit can take your feeble attempts and clarify them to the listener.
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