Of Being a Lousy Interpreter

I once tried interpreting for American missionaries who were doing a series of crusades in the Visayas some years ago. I thought it was an easy job. Little did I realize that there were so many English words that do not have local equivalents. Many times I interrupted the preacher so I could properly explain what he was actually saying. Everything was not going very well. After a few interruptions, my pastor got up, whispered in my ear and told me to quit explaining and just get on with word for word interpretation.

I eventually did. But after the crusade, I was left wondering how much truth was lost because both Cebuano and Waray-waray dialects lack words that were supposed to unveil more of God’s word.

Thankfully, our preaching of the word of God is not limited to verbal communication. We may lack the ability to use the right word at the right time but our actions can very well compensate for our linguistic deficiencies. Love and compassion are non-verbal languages that can be communicated even without the aid of high sounding words and polished grammar.

Unfortunately, so is a frown or a look of disgust.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3: 18.