At Times Like This I Wish I Had Learned Greek!

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After the conference was over we were free to explore the island of Zakynthos with its many fascinating villages – some of them quite remote. I enjoyed meeting local people who readily accepted my little ‘John 3v16’ bookmarks but sometimes it so frustrating when we sincerely want to communicate in words that amount to much more than ‘yes, no, please, thank you, good morning, good afternoon or goodnight!’ Many Greeks speak perfect English but unfortunately some older people like those we met have no English at all.

Above are two lovely people that I encountered in the heat of the day, in one of those little villages with their narrow streets – and they have both accepted a little bookmark from me. When I asked them, they were also happy to have their photographs taken. Somehow I had a sense of some ‘unfinished business’ on this island; a sense that we definitely will return to the region…

How strange it must have been in those days when “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (Genesis 11v1) I often wonder what the “Tower of Babel” looked like… After the Lord sees the need to “confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Verse7), He also “scatters them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Verse 9) And so we have the generations of Shem, Ham and Japeth to this day, scattered upon the face of the earth. Today there are roughly 6500 spoken languages in the world! However, about 2000 of these languages have fewer than a thousand speakers. There are also many languages which are only spoken – and have never been written. It is said that the top ten most spoken languages in the world are: Chinese (Mandarin), English, Hindustani, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesian and French.

As people travel more and more in the age in which we live, I believe that there are many opportunities for the Lord’s people to reach out with the simple gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I also believe that where our words and attempts to explain have been inadequate, the Lord Himself will take over and speak to hearts through His Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, though, He can lay it upon our hearts to make the effort to learn a language so that we may effectively communicate with the souls we meet. What I felt when I met these elderly people was a great warmth and love in my heart for them and I do pray that this simple little verse in their own language will speak to their hearts.

Meanwhile I have been scanning the evening class language subjects for Modern Greek – but unfortunately don’t see it listed at all. I will continue to do so – and also to pray for those people I came in contact with – whether it was a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, a shop keeper, the owner of our apartment – or an elderly man or woman watching strange tourists who insist on walking around in the 40 degree heat of their hot summer’s day!

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