Speaking the heart language

I run a language school dedicated to teaching global Christian workers how to speak the heart language of local people. It was born out of my own frustration in trying to learn the language as a new Interserve partner. All Interserve partners, whatever their field, have to learn the language of the country they are serving. I was no exception, arriving in 2011 and spending my first year struggling to make language progress in an environment with no trained language teachers or standardised curriculum.  

The old saying “doctors make the worst patients” could certainly apply to teaching professionals making the worst students. With my background in English Second Language teaching (ESL), I could not help but see a desperate need for a quality language school. You may wonder why this is necessary when English is the international language and use is increasing daily. Interserve has a strong value of their partners being able to minister well in the heart language of the country they serve. God cares about language too, on the day of Pentecost the disciples didn’t use a translator to share the good news but were enabled to speak in many tongues: 

‘Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?…..we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ (Acts 2:7-11) 

Surely at the very basic level, speaking the local language is fundamental in order to love our neighbour well. 

The school started in 2014 from initial seed money from Interserve and was in the highly unusual position of being in profit from the first year due to exceptional demand. Over the next 5 years the school grew in experience, reputation, personnel and quality to be in the position to be able to expand to a larger facility. We moved in January 2020, with no idea what was about to come. The pandemic could not have come at worse time, and hit the school while it was vulnerable financially having spent our cash reserves in the expansion.  

The school had a business growth plan in place which involved establishing a meeting and events centre in the beautiful new building and expanding our language class capacity which was at its limit. COVID swept into the country in March 2020, and the government immediately closed all schools, banned all meetings and closed all the borders to ‘easy’ entry. 

We rose to the challenges presented and moved the entire school to an online model within 5 days. 

The impact on the school was devastating. Over one weekend we lost 50% of our students, all additional revenue streams and were looking at a very bleak future. Multiple times in 2020 we faced the very real possibility of bankruptcy, which would have resulted in 29 local staff losing their jobs and being unable to support their families. 

Interserve has been a long term supporter of the school and once again stepped up to preserve the valuable language resource that equips missionaries throughout the country. Interserve supported the school through a number of channels: by providing an online donation portal to facilitate fundraising efforts, including the school in its business as mission support catalogue, and several national offices gave significant donations to our ministry. 

With the help of Interserve, the school was able to stabilise its cash flow and see us through 2020 and into 2021. 2021 has brought its own challenges, as all businesses are facing figuring out what the ‘new normal’ means in the short and long term and what strategies need to be adopted to fit this. 

It is not easy to live in the position of needing miracles, but witnessing them over the past 2 years and seeing God work through Interserve has been faith building and encouraging for us here. Interserve’s support at difficult points has been a great answer to prayer, allowing us to: 

  • Continue His mission to equip his workers,  
  • Provide employment for local people and,  
  • Look to expand and widen language learning needs. 

Interserve’s support through the pandemic has also allowed us to expand our ministry reach, with us teaching missionaries/NGO workers in over 13 countries prior to their arrival to the country. We now have the opportunity to teach heritage speakers, children of refugees who left the country throughout its recent troubled history  – allowing them to communicate for the first time in their parents’/grandparents’ heart language. 

To summarise, without Interserve’s support throughout 2020/2021 this key missional support business would not be here today. We and the 120+ students in 2021 who have passed through the school are extremely grateful for the prayers and encouragement that Interserve and Interserve supporters have provided.