Two Sundays ago (3/30/14) an Anaheim sister and I went door to door near the Anaheim building, inviting people to study the Bible. We encountered a Spanish speaking man at one door who, it seemed, could not speak or understand English very well. There happened to be a girl visiting (10-13 yrs) whom we asked to interpret for us and she did so. We gave the man a Spanish version Open Bible Study lesson one attempted to encourage him to study it.
As we were speaking to this first man his English speaking brother came around the corner. We addressed him and the original man left the room. We asked the English speaker the question, “Do you think most people will go to heaven?” An attempted was made study Matthew 7:13,14 in English but he could not read English well. The man went and got his Spanish Bible and we gave him an Spanish version of the Open Bible Study (Estudio De La Biblia Abierta). Using his Spanish Bible and Spanish OBS lesson for him and an English Bible and English OBS lesson for us, we led him through a study of Matthew 7:13,14, 21-23 and 1 Timothy 3:16,17.
During the conversation he revealed that he was a Christian and that his brother was a Catholic. When invited into further personal study of OBS with us, he said he participated in weekly Bible study at a Spanish Christian fellowship. Further encouragement did not move him to study with us, so we asked him if he’d like to look at the OBS lesson further and allow us to follow up in the near future. He said he was willing. Before leaving we encouraged him to discuss the Spanish OBS lesson we left with him, with his brother and fellowship.
It would be nice to know Spanish, but even though we don’t, there is a way to share Christ despite the language barrier. Even if we don’t attempt to study with people of a different language than we speak, tracts containing the gospel message in their native language can be shared.
Another door we visited was answered by a Romanian man who also claimed to be Christian – Ruben. He spoke and read English well, but preferred Romanian. Though we did not have Romanian study materials with us, we suggested we could probably get some for him to consider. World Bible School has materials in Romanian that we may try to share in a second visit. Ruben said that his wife and pre-teen son were more committed to church assembly and study than he was. We left him an English OBS lesson 1, personal card containing the gospel message and a World Bible School website. He welcomed a follow up.
Does the language barrier present an impenetrable obstacle to our sharing the gospel with a person of another language? Absolutely not! It may slow the process down and take much more effort on our part, but it can be overcome. The options are probably obvious to us but I will share there here anyway. Option 1. Share a tract that presents the gospel of Jesus in their language Option 2. Find a translator to help you present the message Option 3. Walk people through the gospel using materials in both languages. Lot’s of pictures may also help this. Option 4. Learn their language.
I wish that applicable Scriptures came to mind more readily. If you have one you think applies, please feel free to share it in a comment.
God bless you as you do what you can to share what you know about Jesus with others who desperately need Him.