When I began to learn of my Japanese heritage in high school, I was surprised to discover an indigenous people that predated modern Japanese for several thousand years. The Ainu people of Northern Japan are thought to have migrated from the Asian continent to Japan around fifteen to twenty thousand years ago. Once thriving, various factors, including discrimination by the Japanese government and assimilation with other native Japanese, have reduced the number of pure Ainu to perhaps less than a thousand. Equally devastating is the loss of their culture. It is estimated that there are less than a hundred who can speak the native Ainu language. It is likely that within a generation, the Ainu language will no longer be spoken.
When a group of people loses their language, their individuality and uniqueness quickly follow. Linguists estimate that there are presently 7000 languages spoken in the world and by the end of this century, more than half will disappear. Like the Ainu, many of these languages are currently spoken by less than a thousand natives. Presently, there are renewed efforts to preserve the Ainu language and culture. Equally earnest efforts are occurring throughout the world to protect and restore other languages and cultures.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:9-10 (NASB)
We give up our sinful life when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, we do not need to give up our cultural identity. Some critics launch accusations that Christians promote a groupthink mentality, requiring social and cultural conformity. In fact, Christianity embraces the diversity of cultures and ethnic groups. As this passage in the Bible states, we can look forward to a glorious day in heaven when nations and tribes of peoples and tongues will stand with each other, all praising our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Languages may fade away. Borders of countries may change. The Word of our God stands forever!
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.