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Love in Four Languages

4 Gospel Translators  Faith Baptist Church  Nimule, South Sudan   Feb. 2014
4 Gospel Translators Faith Baptist Church Nimule, South Sudan Feb. 2014

A Real Southern Gospel  Quartet

Nothing connects with a person quite like truth in their heart language.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

And I’ve seen a lot.

It was just like the Book of Acts.

We five Americans were  ushered into the thatched roof-open sided church service.

The service is in full swing. If you’ve never been in an African church, you cannot fully understand full swing.

There’s a joy in the singing and clapping. This is in spite of the fact that a sizable number of the worshippers are refugees.

This is Faith Baptist Church in Nimule, South Sudan.

It’s a Book of Acts church. More on that later.

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The singing ends and a young pastor begins his sermon.  He’s sharing in what I assume to be Madi, the local language.

After several sentences, he stops.

A lady to his right translates.  I don’t know what she’s saying either.

As she finishes, a man on the far right speaks.

I don’t know what any of these languages are.

As another English speaker (named William from years ago)  said, “It’s all Greek to me.”

Kenneth,  a young church leader who brought us here, translates into English.

At last I can understand.

This quadriphonic sermon continues.

We learn that the original speaker is preaching in Madi

The woman on his right is translating into Arabic.

The next man is speaking Murle, the language of most of the refugees present.

I’m not sure if Kenneth’s English is only for our benefit or others in the crowd.

South Sudan’s official language is English.

Due to The Sudan (heavily Arab/Muslim north) and its occupation of the south, Arabic is widely used as the Lingua Franca.

Madi.

Arabic.

Murle.

English.

It’s just like the Book of Acts/chapter 2.   Listeners are hearing the Gospel in their heart languages.

Our goal is to support friends like Robert (Madi) to share in their heart language.
Our goal is to support friends like Robert (Madi) to share in their heart language.

 

Nothing connects with a person quite like truth in their heart language.

My monolingual frustration at only being able to converse in one heart language (English) rubs against my ribs.

*    *   *

The sermon in four languages goes on (and on.) I always remind my American preacher friends,  “Remember that using a translator doubles the length of your sermon.”

In this case,   it’s times 4.

4x.

Madi, then Arabic, Murle, and finally English.

Spoken by four South Sudanese.

The Gospel in four languages.

This is a real Southern Gospel Quartet.

The best kind of all.

I wonder what these folks would think of our Southern Gospel Quartet music.  Kevin Willis, where are you?

And I wonder what lovers of that uniquely U.S. Deep South style would think of the Full Swing African music I hear and experience each Sunday.

Where is Wayne Green when I need him?

 

Bob Calvert sharing the Gospel
Bob Calvert sharing the Gospel

 

Takeaways:

  1. 1.    People need to hear the Gospel in their heart language.  That’s why discipling African Jesus-followers should always be our priority.
  2. 2.    We should be open to any and all methods of getting the Gospel into the hands and hearts of listeners.    For the literate, the Bible in their heart language.  For oral learners, means like the story cloth and Biblical narratives.   We should also be seeking ways to share the Good News of Jesus using technology.  Plugging the Gospel into radios, MP3 players, SIM cards should be part of our strategy.
  3. 3.    As Paul said,  “I am become all things to all men . . .”

 

We are really excited about the use of solar powered media players in sharing the Gospel.
We are really excited about the use of solar powered media players in sharing the Gospel.

What are your takeaways from this story/post?

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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One comment

  1. I would love to be in this service! When people “pity” you and DeDe for all you have given up, I know that they have no idea of all you are experiencing!

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