Learning to Say Hello
The mid-morning sun broiled the equatorial African village. We stepped into the shade of a mango tree, where a half-dozen men stood waiting. Each of us, with each man, inquired of each other:
“How are you?”
“How is your wife?”
“How are your children?”
More Than Bonjour
This remote West African people group probably has a word that means hello. I made do with bonjour —French for hello. However, while French is the national language and almost everyone understands bonjour, it’s not nearly enough to say hello here.
Truly saying hello here requires a complete round of greetings and inquiries about the health of the person whose hand you are shaking and his family’s health.
More Important Than Hello
If it takes forever to truly say hello, imagine what it’s going to take to clearly communicate: God loves us, and because our sin separates us from God and we have no way of bridging that gap, He sent His own Son to die to pay for our sin, and that He rose again in victory over sin and death so we could not only have eternal life, but abundant life now.
That’s an important message. That’s why NTM missionaries take the time to learn a people group’s language and their culture. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll think you shared that message, when all you did was the equivalent of saying, “Bonjour” — you said “Hi,” but you greeted no one.
Do you know someone who is interested in doing more than saying hello? Someone who wants to be used of God to make a lasting impact on an unreached people group? Perhaps you?