The Rev. Heiko Burklin, a mission developer with World Witness (an agency of the ARP Church), pronounced a series of German vowels and asked Erskine students to repeat the vowels after him as he began his chapel message March 19.
Burklin, who was born in Germany, has spent part of his life in Germany and the rest in the United States, and in fact has dual citizenship. He joked that if he gets in trouble with one country, he can flee to the other.
Congratulating the students on their response to the language lesson, Burklin continued by throwing out some questions about language—and God.
“What language would you like to learn?” he asked, and then, “Does God have a language?” and “Assuming God exists, has He spoken to us?” and finally, “What’s His message?”
In the Book of Genesis, “God says, ‘Let there be light,’ and speaks everything into existence,” Burklin said. “God spoke through the prophets, but the last one in the Bible is Malachi, and then He went silent” for 400 years until the birth of the birth of Christ.
“Jesus was born quietly. He was born of a virgin. He lived in obscurity for 30 years before he burst onto the stage of history,” Burklin said. “He’s been changing lives ever since.”
Burklin spoke about the changed life of a young refugee, a little girl who was fleeing Prussia many years ago because the Russians were coming. “That 11-year-old girl was my mother,” he said. His mother not only survived her ordeal, but “had an encounter with Jesus.”
Burklin’s mother was later diagnosed with brain cancer. When she came to the end of the treatments she was willing to undergo and knew she was dying, she reflected on what she viewed as the most important aspect of her life. “Somehow, I understood the language of God,” she said.
In keeping with a scripture passage from the first chapter of Hebrews, and alluding again to the language of God, Burklin said, “God has spoken profoundly through His Son.” That was the language his mother had understood, and as a result, her death could be spoken of simply. “She went home,” he said.
“I hope you will look up to this Jesus. I hope you will believe in Him,” Burklin said. “May you find peace, ultimate joy, and eternal identity in Him.”
Worship in the Due West ARP Church was led by Erskine Chaplain Paul Patrick, with music provided by Will Hunter, pianist, and the Chapel Music Ensemble.