Multilingualism in Africa is a pervasive phenomenon that requires attention and a missiological response. A modern average Kenyan is fluent in at least two languages. How does this impact our ministry in Bible translation? Many people can speak their heritage language but are not fluent readers of it. They do not identify with any one language as a single heart language. So how do we minister in such a context?
Language plays a fundamental role in shaping identity and culture. We are increasingly realising that in multilingual societies, negotiation of identity can be even more complex. Dealing with complexity can be difficult, but we need to face the challenges and consider ways to help people benefit fully from the various languages God has allowed them to acquire.
In this article, Dr John Ommani describes the multilingual ministry context and the complexities about talking about “the language of the heart”. He lists assumptions have have about language and factors that determine the language of choice. Also included are lessons learned about Scripture engagement in multilingual settings and steps that can be taken to encourage Scripture use in multilingual contexts.