Who wants to learn English?
That’s a question I’ve asked many people here in Ecuador, and when I do, almost everyone raises their hand. It’s because, as I’m a native speaker, a lot of people think that finally there is someone to teach them English. But I have to explain to them that it’s not like that. I don’t teach English. I teach people how to be learners of English. I make learners.
When I first came to Ecuador, I didn’t know any Spanish outside of what I learned in high school. I was happy to make mistakes, but I also had a notebook and a pen, and I wrote down something new every day. From people talking on the bus, signs, conversations, TV, websites, newspapers, songs and readings from the church. I had a tutor sometimes, a few short classes, and I used an app and some books and software. I asked a lot of questions, and I always carried a dictionary in my pocket. I learned from everyone and everything around me. And I still do. What had happened?
I became a language learner.
And God was the teacher.
That’s what I help people do with English – I help them to become language learners. God is the teacher.
The word disciple in Greek is ‘learner’. Jesus invites us to become learners – learners of the language of God. See, God speaks to us each day in our lives through all the events going on around us. In the stars and the rain, in the hot sun and the cold snow. In our homes in the ordinary day to day, like paying bills and preparing a meal or picking up the kids. He speaks to us when we fall in love and when we break up, when there’s a birth and a death. He speaks when we park our car and arrive at work, in our encounters with co-workers, in our using technology. He speaks to us in our gardens and farms, in planting and picking harvesting, and with our encounters with animals. With success and failures, surprises and the ordinary, alone or in company, the good and bad and everything in between. God speaks to us in everything and everyone around us.
And we can’t understand what He’s saying. Unless …
We begin to take time to notice events of our life and, with the Bible as our dictionary and the support of others and a lot of questions, learn something new about God’s language. What is God saying to me in this event today? Or this week? Or month? How does He speak to me? How can I talk to Him?
Unless we become learners of His language.
Unless we become disciples.
That’s what I help people to do with God – I help them become learners of His language. He is the Teacher.
So, who wants to learn God’s language?
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Mt 28:19)