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, grammar, gender agreement (Spanish uses gender forms in their language like Latin and Greek do).
I had the opportunity to explain the concept of Christian prayer to my teacher who isn’t Christian, nor has the vocabulary we Christians loosely throw around in church.
- 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).
Christianesse gets in the way
I faced a few challenges, for example
- 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.
So not only was prayer burden a foreign concept, so was the mental image my word choice gave my listener.
In trying to explain such terms, I had the opportunity to tell stories of God’s activity in my life.
In attempting to explain a prayer burden, I got to describe a prayer experience I received while mowing the yard.
I was mindlessly mowing the grass when I felt a sudden and strong impulse to pray for a particular missionary team in China, and then explain how I saw God’s hand in that.
Talk about your relationship with Christ
As we 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?