How important is it that people can read and write their own language? Maybe we should back up and ask: why would people be reading their heart language if there is so much reading material available in the main languages or trade languages of the world?
The key is this: heart language. God speaks not only to our intellect, but also to our hearts. In our hearts, that place where our will and emotions are formed, is the place that needs change… and He will remove their hearts of stone … We are not touched by Jesus unless our hearts are touched and changed! When we communicate the Word to a people, we must speak into their hearts. It is here that our need for God is; that emptiness that can only be filled with Him who is our Life.
We have seen many churches in Africa confusing their animistic beliefs with Christianity; mixing the two world views to form a syncretism that is not the Truth as we know it in God’s Word. After we were working with the church in South East Africa for 6 years, we were convinced that one of the key weaknesses in the witness to the people of these countries is the communication of heart matters in trade languages! People misunderstand and mix up what they think they hear with what they already believe. And more often than not the result is a very shallow church open to false beliefs and teachings; A church that is church only in name, but not in truth.
Therefore, when we learned about New Tribes Mission and their emphasis on teaching the Word in the heart language of the people ministered to, we immediately felt a connection! We joined NTM and now, more than 10 years later, we see the fruit of the time and effort put into learning the heart language of the Mwinika people. We translate and teach God’s Word in their heart language… and we see lives change.
The key to open the Word of God to the Mwinika is the Literacy program that was developed after creating an orthography (alphabet) for their language. Literate people means people of have direct access to the Word of God; they can develop a closer personal relationship with their Father and hear his Word and Truth in their hearts for themselves. Literate people means people who are not dependent on others to open the Word to them. They are better equip to live and work within God’s will since they can read and understand what He says. In a sense, we do not want to recreate the church of the dark ages where only a select few had access to God’s Word. We are working towards a Maturing Church among the Mwinika.
How important is it that people can read and write their own language? To us it is an essential element to planting a maturing church under the unreached peoples of this world.