Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Pentecost Miracle

Whoever said that Cameroon is a bilingual country must have been … French!

There is no doubt that we will have to learn to communicate in French as quickly as possible. I had been harboring the secret hope that, upon arrival, we’d realize that we didn’t need French all that much, or that we could simply have a personal translator with us at all times.

How wrong I was!

Do you realize how debilitating it feels to not be able to communicate with the dominant culture? It’s terribly frustrating and frightening!

Quite frankly, I need a miracle. And so I am praying for another one … a Pentecostal miracle!

Leah and I started French language school yesterday. We are to spend five days a week, for the next six weeks, from 8:30 – 10:30 am, and 11:30 am – 1:30 pm with a personal language teacher. And by the end of this time, we are supposed to be able to ask directions, find a bathroom, train pastors, and preach in French!


So I have reacquainted myself with Acts 2. I have read this chapter so many times that I almost have it memorized. But it has never meant so much to me as this moment in time. Because we need a Pentecost miracle.

When it comes right down to it, the miracle of Pentecost was simply this: that a group of Jews from Palestine suddenly learned a bunch of different languages instantaneously! (I know this interpretation differs from my Pentecostal/charismatic brethren, but it seems to make better sense to me.) Notice that they didn’t speak mystical angelic languages; they spoke the “native languages” of Parthians, Medes, Egyptians, Libyans, and Arabs.

And they did it all without a minute of language school! Darn – I want that miracle!

I know that, if God wanted to, he could send down little tongues of fire and – voila! (that’s a French word, by the way!) – we would speak Parisian French. It could happen …

But then again, God has already given us the tools … and the intellect … and the wherewithal … to be able to do it ourselves. I get the feeling that God wants us to work at it. In other words, it’d really be a cop-out if God simply downloaded the language into our brains. The miracle will come as we both struggle to master the language; the blessing will be the fruit of our tears and sweat. In a few months, when we are able to hear, comprehend, and speak a new language, then we will suddenly stop, look at each other, and say, “We’re speaking French! It’s a miracle!”

And it will be.