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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Accent (02/21/13)

TITLE: God Wasn't Lost in Translation
By Allen Povenmire


My interpreter for the afternoon was a 21-year-old college student, Jessica. For her services as translator, Jessica was receiving school credit for the English classes in which she was enrolled. Pastor Luis had taken us to the home of a family directly across the street from his church. Only an hour or so before, I had been introduced to the church as my host church for the week. My read was the gathering was social, not evangelical in nature. From all appearances, we were there for coffee, cookies, and chit chat, and nothing more.

As an interpreter, Jessica’s competency was marginal, at best. I had great difficulty understanding her thickly-accented English as she translated her fellow Peruvians’ Spanish. Likewise, she struggled with comprehending my English responses. Despite her delightful personality, and willingness to serve a Lord she’d only hours before accepted herself, Jessica’s efforts as our communications conduit made the afternoon social a fairly quiet event.

After short while, I sensed a bit of restlessness from the diminutive Pastor Luis, perched directly across from me. While he spoke not a word of English, with his head tilted somewhat to the right and his bushy, graying eyebrows slightly raised, the Pastor was definitely communicating strongly in my direction. The longer the social conversations lingered, the more urgent his body language became.

I began to reassess the situation. Perhaps this was more than an afternoon reception for a foreign missionary. Taking inventory of the family of five seated before me, I decided I should find out their spiritual situation, just to be certain.

“Are they Christians?” I subtly asked Jessica, leaning over to where she was sitting.

“Yes! They are Christians,” I heard her reply. At that point, I again went back into tea and crumpet mode. But the urgency from the Pastor Luis did not cease, but rather, seemed to increase. I began to wriggle uncomfortably in my chair, having no idea what he was trying to communicate.

Finally, his impatience with me reaching a crescendo, Pastor Luis instructed Jessica to have me tell the family about how Jesus was “working in my life.” So that’s what he wanted . . . a testimony. I began giving an account of a life fortified with Christ in hopes that it would encourage the brothers and sisters sitting before me. But Pastor Luis seemed even more annoyed and, at some point in my testimonial rambling, he snatched the conversational reigns from me.

I sat perplexed listening to Pastor Luis. While there was no denying the passion with which he spoke, I received no help from Jessica about the content of his oration toward the family, now collectively leaned forward listening to Pastor Luis. My limited Spanish began picking up key phrases and words here and there. I realized that he was sharing the gospel of Christ with this family and inviting them to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the very reason I had come to Peru . . . but, thinking back to the words I’d heard from Jessica, “they are Christians," just what was going on??

My confusion continued as suddenly the family bowed in prayer. Pastor Luis led them in what was obviously a prayer to received Christ. Tears were now flowing from the family members as they lifted their faces, beaming with joy from a new found Lord and Savior. Though I rejoiced in the moment, part of me still wondered what I’d missed.

At that point, the family surprisingly got up to leave, hugging the Pastor, Jessica, and me exuberantly as we walked them outside to their waiting car. They loaded a suitcase or two into the trunk and piled into the small vehicle. Standing on the curb, watching them speed away, I turned to my interpreter in an effort to grasp some understanding of what I’d just witnessed . . .

“Jessica, where are they going?”

“They go visit family now in Lima. Had to leave by two-thirty. Be gone for ten days. Pastor want speak to them today before they leave.”

“Jessica, when I asked you, are they Christians, why did you tell me, ‘yes’?”

“Because they did.”

“They did?”

“Yes, they did have questions. But don’t worry, Pastor answer them for you and now they know Jesus, just like me!”

And with that, the dense fog in which I’d been immersed suddenly lifted, as five new brothers and sisters motored off into the Peruvian sunshine.

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This article has been read 484 times
Member Comments
Member Date
lynn gipson 03/02/13
What a wonderful experience this must have been for you! Despite the language barrier you witnessed and were then heard through the Pastor. Very well written story that brought joy to my heart as the five people motored away. God Bless
Alicia Renkema03/02/13
When I read your story, somehow what came to my mind was how, even with the best of intentions we misunderstand one another terribly, even when there is no supposed language barrier. Thankfully, the Lord uses all things. Those five people were saved and that is all that really matters. But matters like that when one is trying so hard to help can be very frustrating. Thanks for sharing. This was spot on for topic. I loved many of the descriptions of your characters as well.
C D Swanson 03/02/13
Touched my soul and made me smile. Just one "saved sheep" and the angels rejoice and sing. So, this must have brought much singing above. Thank you.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/02/13
This is a true masterpiece. you had me right in that room with you, a puzzled expression on my face as my brain raced trying to figure out the ending before I actually reached it. I'm not quite sure why i do that--sneak a peak at the last page of the book--it was such a delightful journey when i took it on your time table. It makes me stop and wonder how much I miss in my quest to cut to the chase. Sure the chase can be exciting, but there is so much depth in between. you've reminded me of a valuable lesson and I'm so glad you wrote and submitted this wonderful story.
Judith Gayle Smith03/02/13
Oh the pain! Anticipating the ending throughout this piece was delicious! I love this . . .
Because He lives and loves,

Noel Mitaxa 03/03/13
You have taken us all the way into your thoughts, fears and eventual gratitude - which all affirm the accuracy of your title.
Danielle King 03/03/13
Engaging story. Good for the topic and a great ending. Well done.
Cheryl Harrison03/03/13
Your story kept my attention all the way through. I loved the title. Reminds me of the old song, "Love in any language". Happy to see the family received Jesus as their Savior and Lord! Thanks for sharing.
Loren T. Lowery03/04/13
A story well told, showing how things we don't quite understand can work out for good for those who trust and rely upon God. (Even if, at times, we are doubtful or even clueless). Great job and welcome back to the challenge.
Virgil Youngblood 03/04/13
God is so good, all the time. Thank you for sharing such a delightful story to read and to see God at work. Well done.
Vince Martella03/05/13
I enjoyed this very much. I like the way you brought the conflict in subtley, with the Pastor's body language. Love the way you concluded; kept me guessing what the problem was. The only red ink I can give is that I had to read the sentence "My read was the gathering was social..." a couple of times before I caught on. Great writing!
Bea Edwards 03/05/13
Great story of God's faithfulness to use our weakness and foolishness for His glory!
Myrna Noyes03/05/13
This was a great mission story! The MC's confusion and frustration were very understandable, and I smiled when the misunderstanding between the interpreter and the MC was finally cleared up! You kept me interested and wondering all the way through with this! Nice job! :)
Catherine Craig 03/06/13
So willing to offer Jesus as the answer, yet inhibited by cultural and language barriers. Great illustration of this; kept my attention! God Bless.
Judith Gayle Smith03/07/13
Thank you for glorifying God with your true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy winning entry! God bless you.

Love and verbal hugs, Judi

KJV Revelation 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/07/13
Congratulations on your HC and for ranking 13 overall!
Cheryl Harrison03/08/13
Congratulations on your well deserved placing!
Claudia Thomason03/08/13
Great story! Reminds me of the many times I sat in homes in Africa, not understanding what was going on. There is nothing quite like your scenario where you don't have a clear picture of what is to happen next. This story showed that the teamwork between the speaker and the pastor made the difference, no matter how little the speaker felt he did.
Congratulations on your HC rating!
C D Swanson 03/08/13
Congrats! God bless~