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The ‘Story of Wales’ is now known (BBC series just taken off iPlayer) … and so we now know more of how we got here … and that the Welsh speakers were here first!  Now there are over 600k people in Wales who speak Welsh (over 20% of the population), and growing.  88% of these say they are fluent, and most think, dream and scream in Welsh, and would pray in Welsh if they had a heart to.  Hopefully they will.  People hear, listen, understand and respond best to Jesus in their heart language.  You probably heard the gospel that way.

Walewide works in both languages, of course, and we do not say that one language is less or more important.  In doing this we encounter two opposing views: from those who say we should prioritise Welsh as more important and should work in Welsh for the language’s sake.  Then there are those who say that since everyone can speak English we should work in the one language and pull everyone together.  One puts the language too high, and the other too low.  We work in Welsh for the gospel’s sake.  We work to see lively churches growing across Wales in both languages.  We need to work in both because people in both need to hear, listen, understand and believe the good news of Jesus in order to be reconciled with God and to enjoy Him.

We certainly need to pull everyone together … but not to speak English.  We need to pull together in training, telling … if we carry evangelistic literature maybe we should carry both … praying and supporting.  Huw says that Wales and Welsh (not just the rugby) is enjoying a resurgence … maybe we should too, with an emphasis on both languages by all.

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We must pray that the Lord inspires Welsh speaking evangelicals of all ages to use their 'mam-iaith' when composing worship songs and developing new and innovative ways of presenting the gospel.

Two thoughts from an Englishman serving the Lord in Wales, with a heart for the Welsh language community and learning Welsh, and pastoring two churches in South Llanelli, one traditionally English language and one traditionally Welsh language.

First, I want to emphasise the potential of the Welsh language for Mission in Wales today. For too long in the English speaking Churches we have spoken of the 'problem' of the Welsh language in Mission. The bigger obstacle in my view is our unwillingness to use the Welsh language. My experience has been that a willingness to learn and use even a limited amount of Welsh when sharing with first language Welsh speakers with an incarnational motive opens hearts to Christ and His message.

Secondly, standing where I am, it seems to me that the way that the Welsh language is being used is changing and, if I am right, this needs some serious and fresh missional thinking. Previously contextual mission in Wales demanded ministering in either English or Welsh. I observe two trends regarding Welsh speakers; the significant increase of children being educated through the medium of Welsh from homes where there are no Welsh speakers and the (often linked) increase in number of Welsh adult learners. Is this a new and increasing 'people group' in the nation; people who treasure the language and have committed highly to it but for whom Welsh is a second language and thus not their heart language. For this reason it is my conviction that not only do we need to consider what bilingual Church could/should look like and how we can facilitate it but to see the potential of bilinigualism for mission into this emerging people group. The largest Welsh Language service that we have held in our traditionally speaking Welsh Chapel in the last year was our Gwasanaeth y Pasg ar gyfer Dysgwyr y Gymraeg (Easter Service for Welsh Learners). The majority of the people attending this service come to our weekly Grwp Sgwrs Cymraeg (Welsh Conversation Group)!!! Depending on our local context the need linguistically for either/or is certainly not dead... but for the many of us who believe that effective and sustainable mission must be incarnational surely it is therefore time to seek God and talk together about how to use both?


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