Never Get Lost in Translation

Robin & William
Robin & William

Pictured are my friends William and Robin Butler.  William did his undergrad work along with me at Johnson University in TN.

William and Robin have worked for the last 40 or so years in Papua New Guinea as Bible Translators and missionaries.

They worked with a tribe whose language was unwritten.  William and Robin labored to create a written form of their language and then translate the NT into that language.

Seeing this picture got me thinking….

The bottom line for them was these people could not know the Joy of Grace in Jesus unless somehow the message was translated into their language.

That should be the bottom line for us all…

How do I translate the Gospel Message into a form my friends and neighbors understand?

By lifestyle?   Maybe it is the music style in our worship?  Perhaps through meeting felt needs in the community such as crime, poverty, or hunger?

How does this principle change the way we see our morning worship service?   The way we preach?   Maybe even the way we dress for church?

It could vary by setting.   I dress and preach differently in a community where half the families are on public assistance and make $30K or less per year than I did in the church that was in the premier suburb with family income approaching $100K or more annually.

Even the issues we talk about frequently change a bit.

Don’t get me wrong — I am not saying the Gospel is changed or compromised.   Rather, it is simply packaged in a form that builds relationship and speaks in understandable language.

One author noted that his best evangelistic move was bringing his grill from the fenced in back yard to the open front porch of his home.

What are you cooking?    Meat.

Sure smells good?  Yep.   Want to join us?  Sure.

Before long his living room / kitchen were full every Friday night with neighbors of all sorts.   Conversation and relationship happened.

Soon testimony naturally entered the gathering.

Bible studies followed.

You could study linguistics and move across the globe to translate — or simply observe and listen to your community and react accordingly.

Either way — speak up.




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