Friday, July 2, 2010

DEVOTION: Pidgin (Marcia Lee Laycock)

Pidgin languages are fascinating. Usually a combination of languages put together so a wide group of people can communicate, they are spoken in many countries across the world.

Tok Pisin, (literally, Talk Pidgin), spoken in Papua New Guinea, is a good example. In a country of over 800 languages, it was created for trade and basic communication. I found it a quick language to learn because many of its words have roots in English.

Its simplicity was at once inspiring and frustrating. Frustrating when I wanted to communicate at a deeper level, yet profoundly moving at times, in its plain expression of truth. We learned simple songs, for instance, that were sung regularly in the church we attended. They were not deeply theological, yet they spoke to a deep place in my heart.

Too often we try to be expressive and articulate, when what is needed is simplicity and plain language, language that comes not with the eloquence of man but with the power of God. The Apostle Paul knew the truth of this when he said to the people – “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God” (1 Corinthians 2:1).

Then he gives his motivation – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1Cor. 2:2).

And he gave the reason – “so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power” (1Cor 2:5).

Paul knew that he needed to get rid of his own arrogance and pride and tendencies to prove himself. He needed to step out of the way so God could communicate through him.

It is the plain simple truth of the Gospel that is at the root of all story. Trying to wrap it in our own eloquence only blurs the picture. Perhaps we should all, like Paul, try to get out of the way and let plain words speak, not to our own glory, but to God’s.

Marcia’s inspirational writing has won awards in both Canada and the U.S. Her devotionals are distributed to thousands and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at


  1. Papua New Guinea being so close to Australia has of course many missionaries from here, so since I was a child I have heard the pidgin language when they have shared with us when on furlough. Although pidgen is the general "trade" language, we have heard how Bible translations in their own tribal languages still bring delight to faces and Light to so many hearts in special ways. And yet, as you remind us, the truth of the gospel is simple for all to uunderstand and so can respond to. Thank you for that reminder, Marcia!

  2. Thanks for this thought, Marcia. I have lived almost my entire life on the continent of Africa. Wherever you go, you find different African languages. South Africa alone has 11 official languages, 9 of which are African in their roots.
    A pidgen language has evolved which is widespread, generally known as Chilapalapa. This can be understood to some degree in many countries on our continent.
    As Christians we need to avoid using "Christianese" and concentrate on the simple basics of Christianity - all wrapped up in love.