Learning new “heart language”

At this point, we are finishing our full-time Thai language studies after almost ten months in Lopburi. Through our studies, one of the things that have struck us is the significance of the word “heart” (ใจ).

The Thai language has at least 40 words that include the word “heart”. Words from “happy”, “impressed” and “benevolent” to “sad”, “troubled” and “discouraged” all contain the word “heart”. It can be said that Thai is literally a “heart” language.

While the last ten months have been enriching, it has not been without its challenges, with days spent reading passages with teachers as well as evenings spent revising and preparing for the next day. Sometimes we find ourselves wondering what all of these are even for.

Philippians 2 has a special place in my heart as Paul illustrates not only what Christ came to do but also the humble manner in which He came. Rather than arrive with His heavenly army like a celestial, otherworldly king, Jesus’ arrival was just like every other man – a baby in the form of human likeness. The humanity of Jesus was not just a means to bring the Gospel – His humanity is the Gospel that shows how mankind can live a life completely devoted to God.

This encourages me in my language learning – in a similar vein, studying the Thai language is not simply a vehicle to communicate the Gospel. By learning the language, we hope to imitate Christ’s humility by coming to the Thais in ways that they can understand and through their heart language. Our hope is that Thais will come to see that Christianity is not a “Western religion”, but that God is their Lord who welcomes them into His kingdom through His Son Jesus Christ.

Written by Jon Kong

Jon Kong is a new missionary in Thailand, studying at the Lopburi Language Center

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