I have 7 days, or 28 hours, of language school left. But who’s counting? I’m even tempted to make a paper chain. I’m really glad I’ve pressed through and completed all six months. I’m also glad… Ich kann jetzt ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen. (Translation: Now I can speak a little German.) In fact, I was able speak enough German to teach someone a board game last week!
I feel like I’m bragging – which is bad enough – but what’s worse is that I feel like I’m a 10-year-old bragging about how I can tie my own shoes. After more than 400 hours of classroom time, I should speak German a lot better. Most of my class can speak much more fluently, but I’ll take whatever I can get.
Then there’s this fun fact: My eDOT day-job is in English. So you’re probably asking: “Why bother learning German in the first place?” That’s a fair question.
- The most simple and direct answer to this question is the fact that GEM and eDOT require it. History proves that people in my situation who skip learning the language don’t last. These missionaries rarely make it longer than two or three years on the mission field. They want me to not only last, but thrive here.
- eDOT has other reasons: Learning German has helped me understand the German mindset and, thereby, the European mindset as well. My day-job has me designing apps that will be used by Europeans. Therefore, the better I understand their mindset, the more useful our apps will be. And the more useful they are, the better we reach Europe for the Kingdom of God.
- Personally, there’s even more to it for me. I want to live missionally. Living missionally means that I live for Jesus in my day-to-day life. Knowing my neighbor’s heart-language is an important step toward loving my neighbor. The apps I design may enable or even accelerate evangelism, but I wouldn’t call myself an evangelist. Even still, that doesn’t excuse me from obeying the great commission when it comes to my personal life.
I continue to discover new benefits to learning German. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn it these past six months. It hasn’t been easy, and I still have a long way to go, but it’s a good start and it doesn’t end here. I’m looking for a German club (einer Verein) that shares my natural interests – such as board games or darts – someplace neutral that will let me practice my German while meeting new people that need to hear about Jesus.
One last tidbit: don’t let God’s call on your life be hampered by your self-doubt. I took an official language aptitude test five years ago that told me it would be very difficult for me to learn another language. It wasn’t easy, but if I could do it, so could you. So, if you’re on the edge of the pool, thinking about jumping into missions, don’t let your fear of learning the language stop you. You can do it!