Thailand is known as the land of smiles. I caught a few snippets of Dechawat Poomjaeng’s snooker match with Stephen Maguire today, and he’s been enthralling the audience, and indeed making them smile. He’s being called the new Ray Reardon.
I had a good chat to Paul after the evening service this week. As we talked about Thailand, he reminded me of many of the ways of life there that we experienced on a cultural holiday when we went as a family. We were given the privilege to see Thailand through our guides eyes – and he got on well with us, we respected him, and he knew enough about our culture to communicate effectively.
I was watching Verlaine and Chris interpreting to the guys from the deaf community on Sunday evening as well. They don’t translate word for word, you know. They have to hear what is being said, they then have to understand it (no switching off!) and then think how to translate the MEANING into sign. That is demanding work.
Likewise, being sent to share your faith in a different culture is demanding. It means understanding who Jesus is in your life, and then knowing how to communicate that relevantly into a different culture. Not the words, but the meaning, conveyed by the right words, gestures and actions – it has to be done in love.
You know, the person across the street, though they may share the same culture and background as you, may still need the same care and sensitivity to find the right words to convey the real meaning of what you know they need to hear.
To do it you do not need years of training, to read a dozen books, or even wait for inspiration, though all those things help. You need to be willing to love them, and then be prepared to be prepared. And see where God sends you.
It might be across the street, it might be to Thailand, or it might be to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield..