Here in Switzerland there are three official languages – German, French and Italian. In the canton of Graubünden there is a fourth language, Romansh, which has official status. But those are just the official languages, the ones you find on the cereal box at breakfast.
In addition to those, there are various dialects of Swiss German plus other languages like Arpitan, Franco-Provencal, Lombard, Walser and Sinte. The combinations are mind boggling to a uni-lingual kid from rural Ontario.
The E.U. has 24 official and working languages but there are hundreds of languages and dialects in Europe alone. When you start looking at the languages of Asia and Africa the number grows even larger. All told there are over 6,800 living languages in use around the world today.
There is a beautiful picture of heaven found in Revelation 7 where John sees a multitude of people gathered around the throne of God, people from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” They were standing in worship and saying “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne.” I said this is a beautiful picture because it is so inclusive of God’s love. He is not a tribal god, not focused on just one group of people, not partial to one language but the population of heaven is made up of people from everywhere.
This month we are focusing on missions at Crossroads. We believe that God desires to see people saved from every nation. While we work daily in Switzerland, praying for neighbors and co-workers, we must also see the big picture of God at work in the world. Jesus told his followers that they would be his witnesses at home and in the outermost parts of the world. The mission of the church that began on the Day of Pentecost continues in our own era.
It is estimated that 43% of the world’s people groups are unreached. An unreached people group is “a people group within which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to evangelize this people group.” In many cases there are no believers within those communities. It may be hard to believe but the truth is that in 2014 there are still people in this world who have never heard about Jesus Christ. There are still 1,800 languages that have no translated Scriptures. There is still work to be done in sharing the good news about Jesus.
I hope that you’ll take part in our Missions focus this month. Take time to hear one of our guest speakers and learn more about how our church is helping to share the gospel. Missions is close to God’s heart, my prayer is that it will also be close to our heart.