This past Thursday, we had a Westbury Christian School milestone. On that sunny morning, we had our first ever Chinese student chapel. We have twenty-five students from China out of our approximate two hundred sixty high school enrollment. In our schedule, we have chapel services on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. Our administration felt it would be a blessing for these young people from Asia to have a devotional time once a week in their native Mandarin tongue. We are blessed to have Tony Li, who is part of our Chinese congregation, coming in weekly to lead these twenty-five minute services. I'm going to be part of these chapels even though I will understand none of the language and I'm hidden behind Tony in the above picture. Jason Skinner, one of our math teachers who is leaning on the back door, has lived in China and speaks some Mandarin so he is one up on me. Jason filled me in on what Tony was discussing so I was not completely in the dark!
When I was in China in the summer of 2010, I spent twenty-six days in a rural orphanage and during that time, I saw no one whose native language was English. It was almost exciting to get back to Beijing and converse with Americans. Speaking English is like breathing to me but not everyone has the same oxygen. Many of my international students understand English words at a high level but so many nuances escape them. That is the value of Tony- he can teach the Gospel without the constraints of the kids having to translate mentally every syllable in what seems to me like a seven second tape delay. In Acts 2, on the Day of Pentecost, we're told all the crowd which had gathered in Jerusalem heard the apostles preach God's word in their own language and were convinced of its validity. We pray Tony has that same effect on his Thursday listeners. I know this much: language will not be a barrier, except to me.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow."
Oliver Wendell Holmes