Day 6 -- Lost in Translation

Katie discovers first-hand the value of hearing something in your own heart language

  • by Katie Croft
Photo by Katie Croft

Editor's Note:  This is the sixth of 10 entries from writer Katie Croft.

Day 6

Tonight is the premiere of the JESUS film in a language spoken by over 10,000 people, the Peve language. Peve speakers have come from miles away to celebrate here at this church in Garoua in northern Cameroon, Africa.

As I sit in the 4-hour long ceremony before the showing, I am reminded that this victory is shared by many people.

And the process for them to reach this point was extensive.

What It Took to Get Here

In order to translate a film into the Peve language:

  1. Wycliffe Bible Translators had to first go into a tribe and translate the Gospel of Luke, since that is what the film is based on.
  2. Next, a traveling team with Cru went in and recorded voice-overs of native-speaking actors for each of the characters in the film.
  3. That recording was then brought back to the United States where it was edited and sent to post-production at the JESUS Film Project® in Orlando, Fla.
  4. Once completed, the film is taken back to the country by a group, like mine, and used as a ministry tool to share the gospel.

"The gospel must take place in every language because the gospel is for everybody," says the pastor at the premier.

"When Jesus came, he spoke to people in their own language. Today He will speak in our heart language, Peve. Many people do not understand the word of God because it is not in their heart language."

Lost in Translation

The pastor is tall and thin, and I can’t understand him. He is speaking Peve, then his assistant translates to French. Patrice who is sitting next to me is translating it all into English so I can understand.

"Peve men and women, this is a challenge to continue the work we have started,” says the pastor. "Our work has just begun."

I am only getting a small portion of this man’s passionate speech. This is how other cultures must feel -- no wonder they celebrate when there is a direct translation that they can understand right away.

And it is no wonder that some never hear -- this translation-upon-translation thing is a lot of work for a little bit of understanding.