In the month of March 2018, I had decided to go for one of the CFCI Youth Summer Growth Programs, which was held in West Bengal from 15th to 20th May 2018. While traveling to North India, one must have a basic knowledge of Hindi, as it is one of the common languages spoken in this region. Having studied Hindi as my second language for fourteen years, anyone would have thought I’d have mastered the language by now, but that was not the case with me.
It all started when I was in the sixth standard and failed in Hindi for the first time, and then it came to a point where my mother told me that “as long as I passed it was okay”. And that’s when I discovered my hidden talent in mugging up answers to clear the examination. This went on till I reached the 11th and 12th standard, but at this level, mugging up wasn’t enough and once again I started to flunk every Hindi examination. It then came to degree, where I learned that the lecturers would simply correct the answer sheets as long as the pages were filled. And that’s how I got through Hindi for fourteen years without actually learning the language.
I didn’t hesitate to go for the mission just because I’m weak in Hindi, but fortunately or unfortunately everyone serving had to take up a teaching and deliver it in Hindi. I received help from my brothers and sisters from the Bangalore and Mangalore CFCI community, who translated both the talk and testimony for me and helped me to prepare. However, I made up my mind I would simply read it out and give the teaching as it was really difficult to mug up 6 pages. And after multiple corrections and changes, the teaching was finally ready in Hindi, just one day before leaving for West Bengal.
After all the preparations, I finally arrived at the venue and met the participants. The moment I started speaking in Hindi, they all came to know that I didn’t know the language, but appreciated the fact that I spoke in Hindi to them, despite a lot of struggle. It was really tough when I had to lead the Group Discussions and One to One’s. And every time I led a Group Discussion or One to One, I prayed in tongues for the Holy Spirit to help me, and believe me the Holy Spirit was working through me. Even though there were moments I struggled to find words to speak, most of the times I could connect well with the participants.
Since I was giving the last teaching of the program, I noticed that everyone who gave their sessions before me hardly read from their notes. Being the last and having more time than others, I knew I couldn’t use the paper while giving the teaching. I was really scared and couldn’t sleep properly that night, but when I gave the teaching the next day; my Lord did not fail me. I remember myself referring to the notes just twice or thrice and the rest of the time I was looking at the participants, while words just came out of my mouth.
I have put my words in your mouth ~ Isaiah 51:16
That day still rings clearly for me because it happened on the feast of the Pentecost and I really saw the Spirit working in a manner similar to the way he did all those years ago with the disciples.
I would like to encourage anyone who thinks that language is a barrier, to make the effort to serve God outside one’s comfort zone:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” -Philippians 4:13.
Even today I am still the same when it comes to speaking Hindi, although I may have improved a bit since West Bengal. This, however, will not deter me from serving anywhere, because I know that He who is in me is greater.