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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

2 September 2015: Susanne Irving, Life Church Petersfield

Overcoming translation issues

When my husband John and I published a book about our Kilimanjaro trip, my German family and friends asked for a translation. They felt that they did not speak English well enough to truly understand our story.

I asked Google to translate the book – but there was a problem:  “We thank the goalkeepers for helping us to climb Kilimanjaro and our brother-in-law for suggesting a different sentence.” Google had turned porters into goalkeepers and equipment into a sentence – this comedy of errors would only confuse our German readers.

Our message got lost because Google could not know our hearts and minds. I realised that there was a better chance of conveying our story, if I translated it myself. As the author, I knew what had been going on and what I wanted to say. (I am aware that I do not live in John’s head, so may not have got all the nuances of his part of the story right – but you can always ask him what he meant!)

The challenges of translating our story got me thinking about the lengths God went through to communicate with us. We can look at nature to learn about God, but there are things nature cannot convey. God also inspired people to write down His message. However, we can know the biblical stories by heart, yet still miss the heart of our Creator. This is one of the reasons God sent Jesus. One of the descriptions for Jesus is “Word of God” – He is so intimately connected with God that His words and deeds reveals God’s character and heart.

So if you want to get to know God better, start with one of the gospels – and don’t forget that you can also ask God to help you understand His story.

You can buy a copy of Susanne and John's book, in paperback or as a Kindle download, from Amazon - proceeds will be donated the IMC (In Ministry to Children)

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