Language that Unites

By Sarah Walker

Oh Babel..

It doesn’t take long in a foreign country to become VERY aware of the challenge of languages. Maybe you know a little, maybe not a word. The first thing I did when I stepped out of the car in Kigali was fall in the gutter. I don’t mean trip on a little concrete curb, I mean step straight down into a 3ft deep trench. (Don’t worry, Mom, I look a bit like I was learning to rollerskate but I’m fine!) it was only after I embarrassedly climbed back out that I realized our kind driver had tried to warn me a second before. But he was speaking French…

In Genesis 11 we read the story of Babel, how all the land had a common language, but God confused this language when they tried to build a tower, to make themselves greater than Him. In verse 6 its written, “ The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible or them.’” The story was about a people using their common language to make themselves great, not for good. Yesterday I had conversation with our friend, Sonia, the coordinator with FVA, about what it means to move on after the genocide, for her and for her people.  She brought up the power of a common language.

Before the genocide officially began, a common language of hate was developed. Gradually at first, then boldly, many Hutu’s “language” changed from “Tutsi neighbor” to “Tutsi cockroaches”. The language justified seeing these people as less, not human, as a problem to be rid of. When the killing started people who had worked, played, worshipped together became murderer and victim, this common language of hatred gave the perpetrators a common mindset, and power to unfathomable violence and pain.

Sonia shared of a new common language of Rwandan people.  One that I can’t quite sum up, but that represented endurance, rebuilding, community, and hope. They all share the pain of the past, but they also now share a common language that brings these people together to look toward the future. There is still so much to be done, but God has brought a lot of healing, reconciliation, and prosperity.

We have greatly enjoyed learning little phrases in Kinyarwanda, and I think the many of the people we interact with have laughed and enjoyed our trying but as I sat with some of the teen girls at Faith Village yesterday, my heart ached. I couldn’t REALLY talk with them. Then I felt God’s prompting in my spirit, reminding me that we can share a common language, His. As a Church, we are all His children and we share in the Hope that comes from His Gospel, Joy in His presence, Compassion like Christ modeled. We couldn’t talk much with the kids, but we could play, hug, laugh, and dance (I love dancing!!) I want to ask you to please pray for our team, for the Faith Victory workers, our friends, and all the church here. That we too would have a common language in Christ. Last I want to share this verse that’s been coming to my mind the last few days. “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unit among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6

Blessings, Sarah