It is accepted by church tradition that St. Thomas the Apostle somehow came to India, but it is unclear to me how he managed to get through the language barrier. Did India have any contact with the West at this time? Could St. Thomas have an interpreter or something to ease the language barrier? Broadly speaking, how do missionaries do missionary work without previous exposure to the people's language? Can missionaries just communicate the gospel using body language or pictures?
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closed as unclear what you're asking by Flimzy, Narnian, Affable Geek, El'endia Starman♦ Nov 8 '13 at 16:05
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We don't know how Saint Thomas managed to communicate with the Indians. God might have given him the knowledge without the need to learn, or he might have used his spiritual gift of tongues.
However, I believe that even Saint Thomas was not an exception, who did not need to learn the language of the targeted people. Missionaries who go to foreign countries need to learn the language of the people before they can start preaching the Gospel. Here are some examples.
William Carey, an English Baptist missionary, who was a missionary in India, translated the Bible into Bengali, Sanskrit, and numerous other languages and dialects. Wikipedia says -
Adoniram Judson was an American Baptist missionary, who served in Burma(Myanmar) for almost forty years. He translated the Bible into Burmese, and established a number of Baptist churches in Burma. Wikipedia says -