Ishaya sat unsmiling at the back of the room. I wondered if he understood what was happening. Most of the 36 participants from 8 different languages were participating quite well in the Lessons from Luke Trainers Training. I wasn’t sure how to reach the few like Ishaya. The second day we assigned each language the task of writing a song to one of the memory verses from the curriculum. After 15 minutes, we all gathered to hear the original masterpieces.
Ishaya was transformed as he lead his group singing in his language. His eyes danced, he raised his hands in praise, his contagious smile mirrored on the faces gathered around. Wonder captured me at the power of those living words sung in the language of the heart. Auntie Blessing, who has trained in many trainings with me said, “That was our best concert yet!” Since our average training is done in English, I am convinced that the beauty of that moment was directly linked to the eight languages that echo through the days and experiences of the participants. The languages that they speak to their children, at traditional weddings, in the markets, the languages that draw them together as a people and, in that moment, the languages that is drawing them closer to God.
After the celebration around the Word with their original songs, we had a time of prayer. The faith they expressed in unified prayer was the backdrop to the requests raised. Inexpressible past and ongoing grief, pain, and trauma that their communities have experienced was lifted up with shouts and Hallelujahs! That mingling of joy experienced when singing in their language, the grief and trauma shared, and the faithful response of these brothers and sisters in fervent prayer was truly a sacred image of heaven. “The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.” (Revelation 8:4)
A week after this three day training, I revel in the precious opportunities of celebrating God, preparing to help children know him, and exploring how their languages can be used to make that happen with these dear brothers and sisters.
Please do continue to lift them up as they communicate the need to share the Gospel with their children in their heart language in an ever changing linguistic scene where language communities are living together in towns. May they use the curriculum they’ve translated to disciple children in truly understanding that call to discipleship.