Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lost In Translation




Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity 
1 Timothy 4:11-12


Have you seen a foreign movie with subtitles? I have, in hundreds.  Once, I was watching a foreign movie with some of my friends.  In a particular scene, the main character‘s monologue lasted for 40-50 seconds. I remember leaning forward to make sure I read every word in the subtitle to get what he was actually saying.  But I was shocked to see only one phrase in the subtitle.  Could a whole monologue of 40-50 seconds just be translated into one phrase? I immediately sensed that I had lost a lot of the details, as the translation was incomplete. 


Few years ago, I was giving a sermon in another country, which was being translated simultaneously in the local language by an interpreter. In the middle of my talk, I said something to make a very serious point. It was the main idea of my whole sermon. The interpreter took a very long time to translate what I had said. Initially I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed that the content had to be translated into the local language the way he did to make sense. But to my astonishment the crowd responded with laughter. I immediately realized my point was not translated the way I had communicated it. After the worship service I had a talk with the interpreter and came to realize that he had misunderstood what I had said and took the liberty to make his own thing up. This had resulted in the laughter at an inappropriate time. I was clearly disappointed and upset as the translation was misrepresented.


It is extremely important that the content of any message is translated accurately and appropriately to make a significant impact on the listeners. In other words, it is important that the translator speaks clearly and has a good knowledge of both the original language and the one they’re translating into. Otherwise things will be lost in translation. Did you know that you and I are called to be good translators? 

It is said that we are the only gospels (good news of Jesus) that some people might choose to read. That is precisely why Paul instructs Timothy, and also us, that it is important not to let anyone think less of us because we are young. He encourages us to be an example to all believers in what we say, in the way we live, in our love, our faith, and our purity.  As followers of Jesus it is not enough to just claim that we believe in Jesus and have a great attendance record in community activities. The important thing is that we are in a deep relationship with GOD and that is translated well into our other relationships. 

Friends, Let us not just be people who talk the GOD talk and say we experience God’s grace, love and mercy in our lives and stop with that.  May we also be people who translate our beliefs in GOD into our day-to-day lives by extending GOD’s grace, love and mercy to one another. May we be good translators of GOD in our life.

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