As the Gospel is preached throughout the world, the holy work of interpretation becomes essential in spreading God’s word to multiple nationalities and countries. Interpreters do more than simply translate words – they relay concepts and ideas between languages. Therefore, they should strive to have a more comprehensive knowledge base so that they are able to convert the message from the source language to the target language. In addition, they must remain sensitive to cultural differences associated with their target audience.
Interpreters must strive for deeper biblical knowledge and spirituality in order to speak God’s word effectively. Daily Bible reading and prayer are crucial in drawing closer to God and understanding the work of His Spirit. This guideline provides recommended steps and pointers for preparing oneself for the holy work of interpretation. The Appendix also provides a list of common English-Chinese terms that interpreters may frequently encounter. Future versions may include common terms for other languages (e.g. Spanish).
Faithfully interpret the message to the target audience
Help eliminate language barriers
Interpretation involves more than knowing how to process words from one language to another. The interpreter must translate the spiritual essence of the message and have the abidance of the Holy Spirit in order to edify the congregation. Like the sermon speaker, the interpreter serves as a mouthpiece of the Lord. Moses, a wise and learned man, was called by God to deliver His people out of Egypt. Moses was called not because of his eloquence of tongue, but rather because God wanted him to be the instrument to carry out His will.
God will “be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak” just as He was with Moses and Aaron (Ex 4:12). Like Moses and Aaron, the speaker and the interpreter should be of one mind with the same purpose – to deliver the word of God. With prayer and supplication, the fullness of the Holy Spirit will lead us, and God “will be with your mouth and with his mouth” (Ex 4:15).
HOW TO PREPARATION BEFOREHAND
Pray for wisdom and eloquence in speech
Talk to the speaker beforehand about the theme and key phrases
Know the books of the Bible and be able to turn to them quickly
Understand the essential doctrines of our church (10 Articles of Faith, 5 Basic Beliefs)
Know the history, structure, names, and present conditions of our church
Expand knowledge in all fields (i.e. literature, history, medicine, etc)
Be informed on historical events and keep up with current events (good sources for current events are NPR, CNN, Chinese Times, etc)
Learn to pronounce all the Bible books and biblical terminologies correctly
Read books on effective public speaking and communication
Broaden exposure to regional differences within a language – be culturally aware in choosing terms that different groups can understand(e.g. Mandarin speakers from China use “San1 Fan1 Shi4” instead of “Jiu4 Jin1 Shan1” for “San Francisco”).
Listen to recordings of your own interpretation and make necessary adjustments (i.e. pitch, accent, dynamics)
Observe and learn from other interpreters
PREPARATION ON THE HOUR
Interpreters are visible to the congregation throughout the service, so dress appropriately and groom yourself as one serving God and representing the church.
Neat appearance – hair combed, facial hair shaved/trimmed, shirt tucked in, etc.