Pastor's Piece - Language of Understanding
by Dr Alex Currie
Language of Understanding
Recently I was preaching to Chinese and being translated into Mandarin by an older gentleman skilled in English and Mandarin. In a back room, partially enclosed in glass, through which they could see me and I could see them, another group listened to a translation in Cantonese. I was being translated in that room by someone whom I had not briefed on the presentation. I could tell from the non-verbal cues being transmitted from every face that the translation was understood and appreciated by both groups.
The pastor provided a tiny lapel microphone so that I could move away from the desk so I could really be myself and use both hands in communicating. When I'm speaking publicly there are times when I can become animated. Such a time occurred as I was telling a story, I moved away from the pulpit, and stepped onto a lower platform. I wanted to use my whole body in telling the story.
Speakers thrive on audience body language which may encourage or discourage. Speakers either switch people on or off. When I stepped on to the lower platform and peered through the glass panelling at the Cantonese group, I saw a person stand, and gesticulate in a language I clearly understood. The lapel microphone I was wearing was not working and the translator was not receiving my message. Immediately I returned to the microphone on the pulpit and they signalled they could hear. I understood!
Every day we understand some things concerning people without words being spoken. You see a child trip, fall and cry. Immediately you are concerned for the child's well-being without a word being exchanged. Somebody winks and you know what is meant without words. A person taps your hand in a caring gesture and you know the person understands, without words. Little acts of service let someone know that you care.
Scripture challenges us to put into practice the gospel of grace and love by doing what it says. James 1:22. Paul wrote that 'doers' of the law are justified. Romans 2:13. Actions always speak louder than words. People see God in us often by the way we serve one another or act. John 8:38. Paul wrote to Titus: 'their good character will shine through their actions, adding lustre to the teaching of our Saviour God.' Titus 2:9-10 (The Message). What we do always sounds louder than what we say. People understand what we do better than what we say. This is how we put Christianity into action.
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