I have met a number of American businessmen who are looking to get involved in the tentmaking arena. They were excited to use their gifts and skills for the Lord, but quickly ran into a major hurdle.
They were prepared for business in an English speaking country but were not able to communicate in the new country.
It has been proven that the most effective Christian workers are those who speak the local language.
In our experience, tentmakers who did not learn the language in the first 2 – 3 years, will never learn the language.
Language – the door to the heart
For anyone who has spent any time living overseas, you will know that speaking the local language will break down all sorts of barriers.
Even just a few simple phrases will quickly “break the ice” and allow your host culture to see your desire to understand and respect them.
Which language do I learn?
Perhaps one of the hardest questions you might have to answer is which language do you learn.
For example, in many North African countries, French is widely used in the business/administration world, while Arabic is the spoken heart language. What language do you focus on? Do you do both?
Using the example above, some experts would encourage their tentmakers to go to France for 1 year to get a good grasp of French. From there, they will head into North Africa and begin working on Arabic.
If you have the time and resources, this is a great option. The one thing you need to be aware of is that sometimes people use their French as a “crutch” and never learn the local language.
The other option is to learn only the local dialect. This is excellent for gaining access to the community and communicating in the heart language. The only issue is that these people might struggle when filling out business papers or communicating in the business arena.
Language is tough
No matter what way you break it down…learning a language is hard work. It takes a ton of time, energy and even money.
You need to commit ahead of time to making language learning a priority.
It is part of your job.
Language and business – the time factor
For those of you who are looking to start your business identity from the very beginning, you are going to have to strategically think about learning the language.
When will you have time to study the language? Will you study during the business day? Does it make sense for a business person to take a whole year of language school before starting their venture?
One thing I do know!
How can they believe unless someone tells them? BAM is about proclamation!
You need to be able to communicate the truth to the dying souls around you.
Language is vital for business and community BUT IT IS NOTHING COMPARED TO BEING ABLE TO SHARE THE WORDS OF JESUS!