When I lived in Panama, I took Spanish classes to help me grow in language acquisition.
In preparation for a teaching mission in Nicaragua, I was reviewing the teaching material with my professor.
I was teaching material on prayer, and working through translating my notes from English to Spanish.
I’ve spent 4 hours going over the material with my professor:
- reviewing it for punctuation,
- fixing bad grammar,
- gender agreement (Spanish uses gender forms like Latin and Greek languages do).
This class presented multiple divine appointments – faith-sharing conversations and evangelistic seed planting moments that God brings to us.
I had the opportunity to explain the concept of Christian prayer to my teacher who isn’t Christian.
- Prayer is the vital key to experiencing our relationship with God through Christ.
- Prayer is a love relationship with God.
- Prayer can shape the future (we’ll let the theologians figure out how that works with God’s sovereignty).
My tutor did not have the vocabulary to translate these concepts because she was not a follower of Christ, nor a devotee to any religion. She was irrelegious.
Christianese gets in my way
I faced a few challenges with Spanish translation with my non-Christian tutor.
- Christianese: What is a “prayer burden?”
- Spanish translation: The Spanish word I chose for burden gave my professor the image of me carrying a 20lb sack of potatoes on my shoulder.
Not only was prayer burden a foreign concept to my tutor, but the mental image my Spanish word choice confused my listener.
Divine Appointment – Conversations on Faith
In trying to explain such terms, I had the opportunity to tell my tutor stories of God’s activity in my life.
In attempting to explain a prayer burden, I got to describe a prayer experience I had.
I was mowing the grass when I felt a sudden and strong impulse to pray for a particular missionary team in China. I tried to describe that burden, and then explained the later evidence of how God was at work through that prayer.
Talk about your relationship with Christ
As my tutor and I talked more, I went on to explain my relationship with Christ.
I had a chance to share the gospel because I explained prayer to someone who doesn’t know how to pray or what a prayer burden is.
In reviewing my material with my professor, I’ve had many opportunities to share stories of God’s activity in my life.
I am asked all sorts of questions while we work on translating the material. I try to explain the concepts I am teaching about.
All of this gives material for God’s Spirit to draw my professor into a relationship with Him. She is on a journey to faith, and I get to plant seeds along the way.
Let me ask you this?
When you share your faith, what kind of Christianese do you use?