Summary: Just as Mario has been struggling with his English, and I have struggled with my Spanish, my guess is that many of you are struggling with learning another language. It’s called the language of evangelism.
Becoming Y2F Compliant
As you may know, Beth and I spent the last three years in Mexico City working as church planters. My primary activity was to offer English classes to business people. I taught for a computer company called Silicon Graphics, and also held classes at Pepsi Cola. One day, in one of my classes at Pepsi, I was trying to help my student imagine what his family members might be doing at that very moment.
For instance, I asked Mario, “What do you think your father is doing right now?” Mario thought for a moment and said, “I think my father is reading the newspaper.” Good job, I encouraged him. “Now, what is your mother doing right now?” Mario answered, “I think she is cooking dinner.” Outstanding. “What is your wife doing right now?” By this time, Mario was feeling very confident and didn’t hesitate in his reply, “My wife is eating our baby.” Trying to hold back my laughter, I gently corrected him by having him repeat after me, “My wife is feeding our baby.” He told me he understood so I asked him one final question, “And what is your baby doing right now?” Feeling the flow now, Mario answered, “My baby is eating my wife.”
At this point, I didn’t think I could control myself so I very quickly said, “Good job, now let’s move on to the next section of our lesson.” I don’t know how much English I taught my students but it at least provided some comic relief!
Just as my students struggled with their English, I had my share of difficulties with Spanish. Several months ago, I took Becky (our 4-year-old) and our guinea pig named Muzzy out for a walk to the Vet so that we could get his toenails cut. Becky found a little purse that we crammed Muzzy into, and we were off. When we got to the Vet’s office, I asked her if she could cut Muzzy’s toenails. Or, at least that’s what I thought I asked her. After she asked me to repeat my request three times, I realized my mistake. Instead of asking her to trim some toenails, I was asking her if she could cut Muzzy’s toes off! Maybe she thought I was serious because after all, he was a Guinea Pig!
Just as Mario has been struggling with his English, and I have struggled with my Spanish, my guess is that many of you are struggling with learning another language. It’s called the language of evangelism. Some of you would rather have your toes cut off than share your faith with someone.
In fact, to borrow from the title of the new Star Wars movie, the evangelical church in America is suffering from Phantom Evangelism. A phantom is an illusion -- something that exists only in the mind. Even though we consider ourselves evangelicals, the truth of the matter is that for many of us, evangelism is something that we value in our minds, but not necessarily in our lifestyle.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission to His followers, it was an uncategorical command to everyone, not to just a few who enjoyed evangelism. If you and I are to call him Lord, then we, too, must accept that evangelism is one of the things that we must do.