When I first entered high school, I was presented with a unique opportunity: for the first time ever, my class was offered a choice as to which foreign language we wished to learn. Throughout Elementary school, French (my mother tongue) had been our only choice, but now we could choose to learn English throughout our next six years. My class would not only be the first class to ever have this opportunity, but it would also be the last; and since I was already fluent in French, there was no way would I miss out on the opportunity to learn English.
There were many grammar concepts we were taught in class; however, being a specialist in translation, my English teacher primarily focused on Dutch to English and English to Dutch translations. Needless to say, I didn’t do well that first year. My dad, who was fluent in English, tried to help me with my homework, but he, too, failed the assignments; and at the end of the year, I failed my English course. In fact, my teacher told me boldly: “You will never be able to speak English!”
I was completely disheartened, but I did not give up. If I worked extra hard during the summer, I could retake my exam; and with the help of another English teacher, this is what I did. And I passed. Barely. But a miss is as good as a mile, or so they say, and I went on to barely pass my English classes for the next five years.
Even though I passed all my English courses, the same problem continued to haunt me: I couldn’t speak English! The problem lay in the philosophy of how the language was taught. Grammar and translation will never result in fluent speakers, and by the end of high school, all of us still had trouble putting even the simplest English sentence together. Instead of depending upon his philosophy of translation, my English teacher should have asked himself why his method wasn’t working. Unfortunately, he didn’t do so, and this is why my class was the only one that was given the option of learning English. It was just too hard on students!
Once I entered seminary, I quickly befriended many Canadians and Americans. Within three months, I was able to speak English fluently. And after just three months, as compared to six years of torture, my English was so fluent that a local high school hired me to help a student who was having trouble learning English. By using conversational methods with her, it wasn’t long before she, too, was able to speak English fluently. For the first time in my life, I knew I had a purpose.
The same is true when we are God’s witnesses. If we cannot reach others, it’s because we have the wrong philosophy. The only way we can become faithful witnesses is through depending solely on the Holy Spirit: “I will give you words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to oppose or prove wrong.” Luke 21:15 (GW); “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13 (NIV).
The only way to be successful is by depending on God’s Holy Spirit to guide us in all things: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV)
I am so excited. I will never fail with such a faithful guide. All I need to do is bathe in His presence. Yahoo!
A colleague’s daughter had a terrible pain in her ankle. The doctors couldn’t help her. My colleague asked me to pray for her, and she was totally healed. My colleague experienced God through this experience and was drawn closer to Him. Who made that possible? God’s Holy Spirit!
And I’m excited to say that this type of thing happens all the time!
(To access the entire “Dragon Tramps or Kingdom Heirs” devotional series, please click here.)