Help, I Need a Translator!

I struggle with words. Sometimes, I stutter. Other times, I just can’t remember the word I want to use. And even worse, I will be talking when all of a sudden I won’t be able to pronounce a word. Try as I might, I just cannot say it properly. My family enjoys my handicap. They laugh and say, “Dad it is a good thing you don’t speak for a living. Oh, you do!” and laughing follows (I know there is a better word…argh!).

The primary task in my work is communication. Therefore, I have to be a good listener. Understanding is not just hearing a person’s words, but being able to connect to their heart to understand what they mean.

Listening is important, but I also have to be a good communicator. Finding the most simple way to connect new ideas to someone else’s context is my job. Whether I am teaching a lesson, preaching a sermon, writing a blog or having a conversation with a friend, communicating requires the ability to see into another’s world and deliver ideas in a simple and effective manner.

The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit does many things. One of His responsibilities is to translate: He fixes our prayers to God, He works in the heart of a hearer to receive the Word of God, and He empowers our words for eternal effectiveness.

Some of the most frustrating moments of my life are when I am unable to convey my ideas. This happened to me regularly on a recent trip to El Salvador. My Spanish is non-existent and their English was just as bad. Fortunately, we had a couple of translators. They both were great but let me share a story about Danilo.

On my fourth day in country, I had already been frustrated many times at not being able to hear the words spoken to me, and even more frustrated at not being able to speak enough Spanish to have the simplest conversations. Fortunately, Danilo seemed to always be close by and would step in and help.

On Friday, I had a group of ministry students, various servant leaders and children for about four hours. After taking the time to hear their stories, I began to teach them the HEAD | HEART | HANDS Bible Study Method.

I led them through it the first time with Danilo translating. The second time, I guided them through it with Danilo’s help. The third time, I was available to answer questions. Here is where it got fun. When they came to ask me questions, of course they spoke Spanish and instead of translating, Danilo just answered! Then he turned and translated the conversation back to me. There are just so many wins here!

My experience with Danilo gave me a spiritual lesson: I am dependent on the Holy Spirit for everything that has eternal value. 

  • I need Him to translate my prayers to God (Romans 8:26-27)
  • Only the work that He does through me bears fruit (John 15:5)
  • When I speak the Word of God, He works in the hearts of those who hear (John 16:8-11)*

I depend on the Holy Spirit even more than I know. Often when I finish teaching, I will have people tell me, “Your message was spot on. God has been teaching me this and your message really helped me understand.” They go on to say what they heard. Many times I don’t remember saying anything about it, but they heard it. It made a connection with God for them.

I am humbled that God would use me. But then that is His plan. Jesus said, “Just as the Father has sent Me, I am sending you!” (John 20:21).

* These biblical teachings come from a study of the New Testament not just from “proof texts.” These passages are only examples from scripture.

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