Why Is It Important for People to Hear the Gospel in Their Own Language?

After quoting thirteen chapters from the book of Isaiah, the prophet Nephi began to write some of his own teachings. He acknowledged that many of his people found the words of Isaiah to be cryptic. He disagreed, saying that they were “plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy.” But he went on to say that his words would be simple and easy to understand, “for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn” (2 Nephi 25:4).

Six chapters later, near the end of his writings, Nephi again says, “my soul delighteth in plainness.” He testifies that God “giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).

In March of 1833, Joseph Smith received a revelation in which the Lord promised that the day would come when “every man [would] hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language.” Later in the revelation, the Lord urged members of the church to “study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:11, 15).

One of the ways that we fulfill this commandment is through the missionary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than 65,000 missionaries are currently serving around the world. When they serve in a foreign country, they learn the language of the people whom they serve. As a young man, I learned Spanish so that I could serve in Chile. One of my daughters is currently serving in Brazil, speaking Portuguese.

President Russell M. Nelson recently delighted congregations in South America, and moved some people to tears as he spoke to them in their native Spanish.

When you speak to someone in their own language, you show respect for them. You also increase the probability that they will understand and embrace your message. The promise that people in our day would be able to hear the gospel in their own language is a great blessing that we should not take for granted. After describing the terrible sacrifice made by William Tyndale to create the first translation of the Bible into English, Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “I suppose that never in history has a people been blessed with such a quantity of holy writ. And not only that, but every man, woman, and child may possess and study his or her own personal copy of these sacred texts, most in his or her own language…. Surely with this blessing the Lord is telling us that our need for constant recourse to the scriptures is greater than in any previous time” (“The Blessing of Scripture,” General Conference, April 2010).

Today, I will be grateful that the promise of the Lord is beginning to be fulfilled, that everyone will be able to hear the gospel in their own language. I will be grateful that God loves me and speaks to me “according to [my] language, unto [my] understanding.”

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