Pardon My French1
Earlier this month, Desiree and I had the opportunity to travel to France to visit two of our TBC-supported missionaries. As I’ve said before, it’s noble to contribute financially to a missionary, it’s necessary to pray regularly for missionaries, but it is absolutely needed to go to their field and visit them in person. In fact, I believe it could be the greatest thing and most impactful thing we could do for them emotionally and spiritually. Nothing encourages a missionary more than validating their work by traveling to their field to see the work God has called them to do.
We spent time in Paris, Nice, and Draguignan during our week in France. TBC has supported Randy Laase since the early 90s (that’s roughly 1990-1992 for Gen Z readers). He is one of the longest-tenured missionaries that we support, and he serves with Baptist Mid-Missions. His son, Jonathan, has recently made the move to France as well to serve alongside his dad in Draguignan, and TBC took Jonathan on for financial support in 2019. It is becoming increasingly rare to see second and third generation missionaries, but it was exciting to see these men serving in tandem.
On Sunday as Jonathan was about to preach, I tried out an app to translate his sermon because I don’t speak French. Google Translate has a feature that will hear audio in one language and transcribe it into English. In fact, I was also able to transcribe my English into written French in order to communicate throughout our trip. During the sermon, I was able to understand about 95% of what was preached in French, thanks to the app. The remaining 5% was lost in translation, but there was one word that kept popping up in the transcription that I knew was not being translated correctly. According to the transcription, he kept saying “I am a cabinetmaker.” After the sermon, I shared my thoughts on the sermon and my ability to understand most of it because of Google Translate, but we never could figure out what he was trying to say instead of “cabinetmaker.” It’s funny; I began considering what it means to be a cabinetmaker. The average person likely has some sort of cabinets in their home; however, a large percentage of those people did not build their own cabinets. If you’re a cabinetmaker, I have so much respect for you because even after watching a couple YouTube videos, I would still be completely lost if I had to construct my own cabinets.
Here’s the point-- life is hard, and ministry is hard, but imagine complicating this further by moving to a foreign country where 99% of people are Catholic, Muslim, or Atheist, and also consider that you’re not a native and trying to learn the language and culture, all while trying to build a church from scratch. This task makes cabinetmaking seem easier. Paul admonished the Corinthian believers that we are “God’s fellow workers” and “God’s building” which makes us builders together with Him (I Corinthians 3:9, ESV). Whether you’re a foreign, church-planting missionary; a cabinetmaker; or somewhere in the middle—realize that you are building a life alongside the Creator. What are you building?
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