Why does the title of this blog look so wrong to us?  It looks like something right out of the mouth of Yoda, from the original Star Wars movies.  Although Yoda spoke using English words, he routinely broke the pattern of subject-verb-object (SVO) that is fundamental to the English language.  Other languages follow a variety of different patterns, some of which defy our expectations.  Since we don’t want to sound like Yoda when we share the message of Christ in another language, we are taking a class on grammar – the structures of communication.

Each morning, our classes here at Emanate follow 3 Threads: Church Planting, Missional, and Biblical Worldview.

The Missional thread teaches us skills that will help us learn from and effectively communicate with the people we will serve.  Cross-cultural communication of any message can be a major challenge.  The gospel message is of utmost importance and must be conveyed clearly!

New Tribe Mission Papua New Guinea

This semester, our Missional thread is giving us tools to become better language learners.  A few weeks ago, we completed a class on phonetics, which stretched our ability to hear, produce, and differentiate between different sounds.  Then we went through an introductory course on phonemics, a process of distilling the phonetic sounds of an unwritten language down to an appropriate and useful written alphabet – paving the way for literacy and Bible translation.  Now, in our grammar class, we are dissecting words, phrases, and sentences in real languages in order to stretch our understanding of the way languages can be constructed.

It’s not easy.  We are going through problems that can be difficult and frustrating.  We’re wrestling with new terms like “infixes”, “morphemes”, and “inflectional non-roots”.  Some of us struggle to absorb the material more than others.  As hard as it is now, we know that the information we are learning will just continue to build in complexity as the semester continues.  On the second day of class, as we braced ourselves for the daunting task ahead of us, one of our instructors had some words of wisdom:

“When you struggle (and you will), remember the big picture!  Why are we here in the first place?  We are fragile clay pots; it’s not about us. … It’s about the treasure we have inside of us that we get to share with others. … When you are not getting it, praise the one who is getting it; encourage them.  Praise God that we are gifted differently, that I don’t have to be an expert in everything, that I get to count on my teammate who is going to be better at this than I am.  That’s a good thing!”

-Ryan Kurvits, Emanate instructor

We’re reminded that we’re not just learning about grammar; we’re also practicing perseverance, humility, and mutual encouragement as we learn together.

The hardest lessons in grammar are yet to come, but we’re thankful that the Missional thread is giving us the tools to become more effective cross-cultural ambassadors of Christ.

Learn more about Emanate’s 3-Thread Approach here.