Have you ever heard this joke? “What language will be spoken in heaven?” “English, because Americans can’t learn another language.” Without taking offense as a family who has learned Thai…sometimes English speakers get a bad reputation. I want to offer another perspective after ECFC.
In Sri Lanka, dozens of nations gathered together for prayer and encouragement as the church. These nations gathered under the banner of Foursquare, connecting people from this nation and that throughout the Asia pacific.
English of all things binds these nations together. For some English is the national language. However, nations that have a low, low English proficiency have joined together for these meetings and worship sessions as well. Here English opens the door to networking like never before in history, aside from the Greek speaking world of Jesus’ time. I wonder how many have calculated the affect of English and the spread of the gospel has been. Hmmm, thoughts for another day.
As we mingled with leaders from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, and many other parts of the Asia pacific world, we saw English as the bridge. I am fascinated how much English has penetrated this half of the globe while everyone talks of it’s soon demise.
One presenter spoke in Chinese having her presentation translated into English. At the same time I could hear the soft hum of headsets all around the room translating the message into their native language. However, English allowed the connection. In this unprecedented era of partnership in the global mission, I am interested to watch as the Westerners continue to move from parenting the mission to partnering with the mission. Will English vanish from the center of these meetings or continue to play a pivotal role?
At the same time as communication and information made its way through the conduits of English, worship was another matter.
The conference’s worship leaders led us in English songs, but in some commonly translated songs I heard a brief foretaste of Revelations 7:9-11 being fulfilled. I could hear Thai, English, Singhalese and other languages sung out in unison as we all worshipped the lamb that was slain. What a beautiful day that will be when God draws all nations before him in worship. What a glorious sound that will be before his throne.