My father spent the majority of his productive years working in Bible translation. He first worked among the Tsachila of western Ecuador, producing the New Testament and an abridgment of the Old Testament in their language. He did it because he held two beliefs dear: 1. The Bible is a powerful document, capable of birthing faith (that was his experience,) and 2. It does so best when it is accessed in one’s own mother tongue. I have a copy of his work on my shelf.
I have been preparing for a bilingual retreat in Mexico for clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Western Mexico. A third of the clergy of the diocese are expatriates from the United States. When I suggested to the Bishop that I conduct the retreat bilingually he jumped at the offer. I, too, believe the Bible to be a powerful document, that, in the right contexts, is capable of birthing and deepening faith. Similar to my father, I believe that prayer is best expressed in one’s mother-tongue. I am well aware that the English-speaking clergy among those who will attend live and work in Spanish every day, but the spiritual life is best handled in the language of one’s childhood.
But there’s more. We are going to do this, English-speakers and Spanish-speakers, together. There is a Polish saying that says, Learn a second language, earn a second soul. There are two souls to the Anglican Diocese of Mexico. If we can spend three days immersed in Christian spirituality, sharing our souls with one another, using our mother-tongue languages, perhaps the collective soul of this body of servants can be enhanced, deepened and empowered to make the world they live in a better place.