Not Lost in Translation

Teaching through an interpreter is quite an experience. I’ve done it a few times in my ministry and it is always interesting to see what happens to some of the words. It is frustrating sometimes for me and the one charged with representing my words. There is so much nuance in our languages, and so many different meanings. I’m told that Pasha did a good job translating my messages. I’d say something is hard and he had to discern from my context and other words if I meant “solid” or “difficult”; even though I tried to be careful, sometimes a metaphor or idiom that is second nature to us would bring laughter as it was translated literally – “brain freeze” doesn’t seem to make sense in Russian. The best thing about teaching Scripture through an interpreter is that it reminds us that our best words, our oratorical skill (should we have any), our powerful communication techniques will not carry the day. I am reminded with almost every sentence that the message will only be clear and usable if the Holy Spirit is working among us.  Linda and I also grew to appreciate the two young women who came along to help us in casual (and not so casual) conversations. They took their jobs seriously. They were concerned if we were left alone, that we might need assistance, and they quickly stepped forward to translate smoothly.  If our ministry was successful in any way, Masha, Natasha, and Pascha must be given great credit. What a reminder that the ministry depends on each one exercising his or her spiritual giftedness.

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