Ask any one who does ministry in multiple countries about their biggest need and their answer will often be “translator”. It’s not surprising that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the ability to speak in languages they hadn’t studied. Because it happened on a major Jewish holiday, people from all over the world had traveled to Jerusalem. In order to understand the Gospel message, they needed to hear it in a language they could understand.
The internet is a wonderful way for ministries to help people all over the world. In order to do that though, they need resources available in multiple languages. And as much as translation apps have improved, they still aren’t accurate enough to trust with important ministry documents. Speakers and teachers who travel to other countries often need local translators.
There are other second language needs in ministry. One of the largest underserved people groups in the world is people who are deaf. The vast majority will never be able to read or hear the Gospel. The Church desperately needs people who can sign in one of the many sign languages of the world.
There are people groups in the world who still do not have access to the Bible. Special ministries look for people willing to move to these places, learn one of these obscure languages and then help translate the Bible into that language.
To be fluent enough to be helpful in translating for speakers and written materials, it is helpful if the language is learned in childhood. The younger the child is, the more easily they can make unique sounds and mimic appropriate accents. Young people also often find it easier to remember new words as they are already in that process in their first language.
Have children interested in learning other languages? Encourage it! God may have given your kids the talent and passion for easily learning other languages. There are many fun ways to help your kids explore other languages.
- Children’s books. Our local public library has books for kids in Spanish, German, Hindi and other languages. You can also find them online.
- Children’s programming. Did you know Sesame Street is produced in multiple languages? Many countries even have their own unique muppets. You can find episodes on cable or on places like YouTube. Many languages have other children’s programming and because the shows are made for kids, the language is often easier to understand.
- Language learning apps, videos, etc. There are so many choices today. Some are free, while others require some financial outlay.
- Local language classes and play groups. It’s common in large cities to find language classes and play groups for toddlers and older. Those taught by native speakers will help your kids speak more like someone born into a family that speaks that language.
Have fun with it. If your kids develop a passion for a particular language, encourage it. Don’t forget to explore other cultures while you are learning through music, art, food, travel and other ways to encourage their language learning. You may be raising kids who can help spread the Gospel faster because of their ability to translate.