We are heading on a short term trip to Japan in a few weeks. The realization that I will not be able to read any signs, speak to anyone, or order my Starbucks in Japanese is very daunting (I was only mildly joking about the last one). This realization has led me to speed up my language learning…big time. There’s no more “I’m too busy to learn the language”, I need to do it now.
I opened my Japanese Hiragana and Katakana book and felt overwhelmed. I didn’t even know the most basic Japanese alphabet(s). How on earth was I ever going to be fluent one day?
So I prayed. In one of those brief “help me!” moments, I blurted out something like this: “Lord, help me see this as a ministry”.
Then it happened. I couldn’t put the book down. I fell asleep with my heart racing excitedly, wanting to get out of bed and learn more hiragana. There was more tracing to do. More memorization. Even writing this post, I just want to turn off the computer and get to work. I love it!
I realize my language learning “honeymoon phase” will not always be, but what I never want to lose is the realization that learning Japanese is how I show the Japanese I love them. Learning their languages (kanji, hiragana, and katakana) is how I minister to them. (Yes, even the thousands of kanji we will need to learn!).
If I went to Japan assuming that everyone I encounter will need to speak English, then I’ve failed. I haven’t humbled myself for them, I’ve made them serve me. Love is laying your life down…….laying your pride down. Having those “I can’t learn this!” moments–moments where you press on, whether you love it or not, because you’re serving them. We’re serving HIM.
We don’t go through language learning to get to the “real ministry”.
Learning Japanese is ministry.
Just like support raising, we are not “waiting” until we start serving. We are serving now. With every letter we write, every new word we learn, we are doing it for the glory of God.
So, when I’m living overseas, spending all of my time learning the language, please remind me that doing so is serving God. We serve Him in our preparations, and in our every moment.