Saturday, March 30, 2013


When a non-believing friend visited our women's group lately and had some questions, I was moved listening to other women share their stories. They spoke of their faith, and the Word of God flowed out of their mouths so naturally. I don't really know how to describe it, but it wasn't a "Quote the Bible" moment where everyone recites their favorite verse. It was a time for some healed sinners to share the words they had personally stored up in their hearts; words that were appropriate to the specific questions being asked.

I was blessed to listen to them. That's what I did; I listened. I didn't resent not being able to keep up, but I did wish the words would fly off my tongue like that. There are so many parts of Scripture imprinted in my memory from childhood: hymns and spiritual songs, psalms, memory verses I have purposefully set out to learn. The problem is, they're in English.

On a few occasions I have set out to learn Russian memory verses. But they just don't stick. You hear of missions organizations debating over what an "unreached people group" is. Do they need the Bible in their OWN language, or is it enough to translate it into the most accessible major language? (Why translate if they learn English/French in school, right?)

Well, there is something to be said for "heart language" translation, which focuses on more obscure languages, with the idea that reading the Bible in one's NATIVE language will resonate the most. I have to admit, there is nothing like worshiping in my native language. It isn't better, it's just different. I can feel the words deep in my soul, and my eyes well up with tears.

But I want to learn the Bible better in Russian. They say that even in cases of bilingualism, certain topics will never really feel natural in one or the other of the languages. Maybe complicated literature will always feel foreign to me, in Russian.

However, there are reasons not to despair. When I first started attending my church here, I did not know as much Russian. And yet, whenever someone in the church opened his mouth to pray, it all made perfect sense to me. I didn't know the words and I couldn't tell you in words what he had said. I just understood. We must not underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit, nor the amazing tasks God equips our brains to carry out!


  1. The last time I was in Russia I had the greatest experience when ambe missionary I was acquainted with invited us to come to his home and worship with his regular Wednesday Bible study group. It gave me shivers to pray in Russian, honestly. I didn't understand everything, but enough that I felt that I was truly joining in the worship, as opposed to just listening.

    Your question about translations is a good one. Translations, in and of themselves are an interesting topic. A few years ago the Catholic Church changed the translation used for the readings at Mass, and it really threw me! The new translation (to my mind) is much "harder"...even in terms of the punctuation and sentence length. And there have been a few times, especially reading Paul, when I've read it, and read it and almost panicked - WHAT does this MEAN????

    The translation I use in our classes is very simple (The Good News Bible) and I LOVE it. I fear that says something about me.

    1. Yes, quite the debate. I like translations that are close to the original but still make sense. So I guess somewhere in the middle of the range. They might have to change the order of the words for it to make sense. But it shouldn't be just a paraphrase. Anyway, maybe it just depends on what you're used to. I like the NIV. :)

    2. And now I have to debate over Russian translations as well...

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