- Abbey Hayes
Trysor Cudd // English Translation: Hidden Treasure
A car radio plays a song that is turned down as low as possible. As a passenger, you have no desire to turn it up, because you can barely hear it, and it almost seems like it’s not even playing. The whole car ride, you spend your time doing other things, not even remembering that the song is playing. Finally, you turn the sound up and listen to the best song you have ever heard in your life! You think, “How could I have not known about this before?”
This is how I feel about Wales. A treasure that I have known about in the back of my mind for so long but could not even begin to imagine the impact it would have on me. It is a place with stunning green landscapes, joyful, kind people and the most beautiful language.
When I heard that Northern Wales had a very small percentage of believers, I was shocked. Many chapels and churches that were once filled with revival have now been torn down or turned into homes. Churches that were filled each Sunday now have less than 10 members. It is a massive change from my Bible Belt, church-filled town. Wales is not a third-world, unindustrialized society that I would have pictured to be unreached. Also, they speak English! They have access to sermons and text at their fingertips that explain the greatness of God.
However, I failed to realize that Welsh (Cymraeg) is the first language of thousands of people in North Wales, where I am spending the summer. This language is taught in schools, listened to on the radio and spoken in cafés, festivals and fitness classes. It dominates many aspects of Northern Welsh society.
Now, imagine this:
Your first language is English. Around the age of six, you started learning Spanish. You become fluent and speak it often. However, you still think and speak in English because it was the dominant language in your town. After 20 years of speaking English but being fluent in Spanish, someone hands you a Bible written in Spanish and explains God’s love to you. You understand but don’t believe—there is not a head to heart connection (often, we can understand things logically without it becoming personal and meaningful). A few years later, someone hands you a Bible written in English. You read about God’s love for you and finally understand. You understand why he came to Earth and died on the cross, and your life is completely changed.
I ask you to imagine all of these things because this is what Linguæ Christi is doing in Northern Wales. Linguæ Christi strives to reach indigenous minority language speakers across Europe. In the location I am at, they are committed to spreading the gospel through the medium of Welsh (which some people may refer to as a dying language, but in my opinion, it is VERY much alive).
It took me getting on a plane, going to a different country and a week of learning the Welsh language to realize the reality of Revelation 7:9.
“…from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”
The verse does not proclaim that once everyone knows English, we will be standing before the throne of God; it proclaims, every nation and tribe and people and language.
Often times we take for granted the medium in which we hear the gospel and do not tend to think about spreading the gospel in a country or town’s heart language.
I know this information is daunting. It may cause you to put a barrier up and think, “That’s too hard. Someone else will do this.” Or you may think, “With such a small percentage of speakers compared to the rest of the world, is it even worth it?”
Passivity is always an easier choice than facing the truth, because the truth is found in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus humbled himself and served. He didn’t go and make the nations change, but he met them where they were at. He taught them in stories and miracles, a way that they could best understand, so they would comprehend his love for them.
Now, where do we go from here? After intensive learning on heart language, I thought: “Oh my goodness, I can never be the same. And what in the world am I going to do with this precious information God has entrusted to me?”
PRAY. Ask God what your role in this beautiful task looks like! Ask for holy curiosity about indigenous minority languages. Don’t just stand outside the door and wonder what’s going on, KNOCK!
I am so excited to see what God will do in Wales. I look forward to talking to you more about my time in this magical place soon.
- Abbey Hayes