Speaking without words
Sometimes I fail to realise that God is the One who is truly at work. He doesn’t need me to say a single word in Swahili to move in the lives around us.

By Lauren Pierce, SIM missionary to Tanzania, Tanzania in África oriental

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I sat on a grass mat with my new young house worker, Imani*, struggling through a Bible study in Swahili. On this day, we talked about the power of the tongue and how Christ calls us to speak loving words, not empty words of hate and anger. As we discussed these things, as in each of our Bible studies, I continually ask God to help me understand Imani’s language and speak in a way she can understand. I also fight words of the enemy like, “This is pointless!” “You will never understand this language completely.” “You are wasting your time!”

When I hear these words and believe them, I fail to realise that God is the One who is truly at work. He doesn’t need me to say a single word in Swahili to move in the lives around us. I asked Imani what her home environment is like and if she struggles to speak lovingly to those around her at times. She told me that her home environment is very difficult, sometimes with lots of yelling and anger.

However, Imani said she thinks about our family a lot. When she feels angry and wants to speak harshly, she thinks about me.

“Mama Si [her name for me] doesn’t yell or speak with anger,” Imani said. “I can see she is filled with love, and I want to do as she does.”

I didn’t understand nearly as much of our conversation as I wanted to, since I am still learning Swahili, but the Holy Spirit did allow me to understand that important interaction between us. Even without my being able to speak the language perfectly, God had spoken through me to Imani.

God is continually teaching me the importance of obedience, often when it doesn’t make sense—and even when doesn’t seem that I’m producing much. The truth is, God never asked me to speak perfect Swahili or to be a superstar in this community. But He did call me to be right here in Tanzania, to give Him my all, and to trust Him to do the rest.

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*Names have been changed.

Pray for Imani and Tanzania.

  1. Pray that Imani will learn more and more the love of Christ, and that her actions and words will reflect Him at home and in all of her relationships.
  2. Pray that God will raise up godly believers in Tanzania who will boldly share the gospel.
  3. Pray that God will call more workers like Lauren to continue speaking without words to the precious people of Tanzania. Do you think God might be calling you to serve? Contact your nearest SIM office to find out about ministry opportunities in Tanzania and East Africa.