This past summer, our family sat in a cheerful cafe in Amsterdam.
My husband and daughter tried a local favorite: bitter balls (or bittenball in Dutch), little round delicacies filled with beef and a creamy sauce.
Because I switched to a gluten-free diet for health reasons, I vicariously enjoyed this delicious snack.
After we ate, I handed my husband a fifty Euro bank note (what the ATM dispensed). He held it up to the light as he admired the beauty of the note’s design. It had a transparent section.
I saw two middle-aged women (at a nearby table) look at him with sharp eyes, converse, then look again with disapproval. They found my husband’s actions inappropriate somehow. I wondered if they thought he was flaunting the note. It was not his intent.
He drives a nineteen year old Honda.(*) If he buys something, it is often on sale and not flashy.
But because I can’t speak Dutch, I couldn’t say: “He’s admiring the beauty of the bank note.”
My heart sank.
I desperately wanted a friend who could translate/explain to them: my husband meant no disrespect.
Welcome to part a of b (of the sixth post) in our “Be Transformed” Series.
- Christ-followers need to do a better job “translating” what we believe and the terms we use because some terms may be confusing to someone of a different faith or new to the faith.
For example, I recently heard a Christian speaker use a potentially confusing term (“a new race”) to describe Christians.
Paul, a Jewish scholar, who wrote most of the New Testament, wrote of Christians as a “new race” to mean in Christ, the old way of separating people based on ethnicity or socioeconomic status (and other external markers) was gone. The new part: people united first in their love for Christ and each other. A new identity based on one’s relationship to Christ and each other. Invisible ties.
People kept their unique and wonderful differences but when they related to each other, they focused more on their shared relationship in God. Unity in diversity. They formed a new family in love.
As a new family, we respect other religions and we seek understanding of others’ stories.
- We visited The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Sobering. Anne’s resilient spirit lives on in her diary. One of the most moving and sad images was that of Otto Frank (Anne’s father) standing at the house, remembering his family: all lost.
An excellent audio tour guides you through most of the house.
It reminded me of the importance of not letting the government label any group as unworthy of life.
- The Corrie ten Boom House in Haarlem showed Christians who bravely risked and (in some cases) gave their lives to hide Jewish people and others the Nazis wanted to kill. Also sobering when one considers what those experienced in the “hiding place” (see cut out of the wall) in Corrie’s room had to endure as they waited for rescue in that cramped space for three days after Corrie and her family were arrested.
Both museums did an excellent job translating the experiences of its namesake. It was an honor to visit both.
When we share our stories and listen to other people’s stories, we engage in the important work of translation.
Translation leads to greater understanding and hopefully, to greater transformation in relationships and lives.
- Translating our stories and listening to a translation of another person’s story are part of being transformed by God’s love.
How do you help translate your culture or story (religious or otherwise) to another?
Have you ever felt like you needed a translator? If yes, please share.
P.S. Our next post in the Be Transformed Series will be: part b of “When you need a translator,” and will explore how the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to help us translate our lives and events from God’s perspective.
I apologize my latest post had technical misprints as I scheduled the post before vacation.
Here is the corrected version of “If you want to hear God’s voice (& Three Tips).” Thanks, dear Aly, for letting me know.
(*) (when he used to commute)