Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! It is amazing that another year has come and gone. The start of a new year is a time when many of us reflect on the past year, and plan for the year ahead. Somewhere in there, we usually set goals. For our World Outreach workers, especially those new to the field or in a new location, learning the language of the people they serve is one of their primary goals. Paul and Jackie, World Outreach workers located in Central Asia, launched into the field in the summer of 2023, and share their experience entering a new culture and learning a new language.

Саламатсызбы! Кандайсыз? (“Hello! How are you?”) 
Language-learning is a vital part of life and work overseas. As an adult, language-learning is exciting, frustrating, overwhelming, time-consuming, humbling, and so much more! When I am just beginning my study of a new language, I am often torn between being excited that I know how to say any words at all and frustrated with how much there is still to learn. For example, in our first month learning a new Central Asian language, my husband and I traveled to a local bazaar, where I diligently practiced the phrases I had memorized that morning.
              “Where are these apples from?” I asked. “How much for one kilogram?”
              The shopkeepers answered with an incomprehensible stream of words that were so much faster than the ones on my audio file and sounded nothing like the numbers I had practiced with my language teacher! I ended up with five dried apricots instead of a kilogram of apples and had to show the shopkeepers my bills to have them point out the correct amount I owed (doubtless giving themselves a nice tip for their time!). I counted it as a win, though, because making mistakes is part of the process.
              When learning a new language, I generally find that the first few months are the most difficult. I can barely string together a sentence, and I don’t yet know enough words to understand dialogue or read children’s books. However, with commitment and perseverance, around the four-to-six-month mark something remarkable happens. The incomprehensible sounds all around me start to sound like words! I can communicate in simple sentences. The phrases I use all the time start feeling more natural. Though you never “finish” learning a language (and I continue to make mistakes in languages I have spoken for 20 years!) the first year is certainly the most important.
              Even with all the silly and often embarrassing mistakes that are a natural part of language-learning, it is hard to overstate its importance. The look on people’s faces when they hear that the foreigners are taking time to study their language – instead of forcing our local friends to learn our language – shows that they feel loved by our choices. There are theological implications of language-learning as well. Christ humbled Himself for us, putting on flesh and becoming man to make a way for us to be with the Father. As His followers, we are also called to humble ourselves, and be willing to dedicate hours, months, and years to the pursuit of a new language as we seek to make His love known to the nations. No matter where we live or what we do, we can imitate Christ by seeking to understand those who are different from us!

For many of us in the states, we are probably not going to need to learn a new language in order to love our neighbors, but the call to love our neighbors remains. There are 3.2 billion people in the world with no access to the gospel, a body of believers, or a bible in their own language—we all have a part to play in fulfilling the Great Commission. Who in your community might have little access to the gospel? Are you willing to risk loving those different from you who are right next door?

World Outreach Community Spotlight

Miriam Seaver, a former World Outreach administrative assistant in the Michigan office, entered the Church Triumphant on December 7 after a fight with cancer.  Miriam was 68 years old. We feel sorrow at the passing of a dear sister in faith while we claim the hope of heaven.

Miriam was directed by her faith. She was an outstanding example of living with a purpose. Many of our World Outreach workers will remember Miriam from her years as World Outreach Assistant in the Office of the General Assembly. Prior to her time with World Outreach, Miriam taught ESL at Birzeit University in Ramallah on the West Bank. At age 50 she decided to return to the region to use her remaining working years for further Bible translation with Wycliffe. Her team created materials for a regional auditory people group. Seventeen years later she transferred to a sister organization, Canada Institute of Linguistics near Vancouver BC, preparing the next generation of translators.

The EPC WO family will miss her, but we are so grateful for the years she was part of our lives. May we consider well like Miriam how we use the “dash” the Lord gives us between being born and dying.

A celebration of her life is tentatively planned for spring. Memorials may be given to the Palestinian Bible Society that she worked with while in the Middle East.

Cards can be sent to the family through her sister Judi Seaver: PO Box 335 Fort Calhoun NE 68023 or to

Upcoming Opportunities for You and Your Congregation

Pray for WO Workers

Join the EPC World Outreach Prayer Network to care for our workers through intercession. To join the network, click here.

Support WO Workers

Find Paul and Jackie’s individual support page here. Otherwise click the SUPPORT button for the WO worker support landing page.

Partner with WO

There are many ways you can partner with World Outreach! Learn more by clicking here.

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