Dear friends,

The translator shook his head in a definite manner. He would not translate what I had just said. It was a Saturday morning in Lubango, Angola. I was sitting down beside the translator in front of about 30 people who spoke Portuguese. I have no idea what they thought was happening as the translator and I had a brief conversation in English.

I said to the translator, “You are not translating what I just said.”
He said, “No. I did not.”
He shook his head in a definite manner.
I asked him, “Did you understand what I said? Do I need to say it again in a different way?”
He said to me, “No. I understood. But I am not going to translate it.”
I said to him, “How come? Is there a problem?”
He said to me, “It is too controversial.”

Then he shook his head in a definite manner. He looked straight ahead. I switched to another topic.

I had been taking the people through a study of the first couple of chapters in Genesis. From my conversations with missionaries I had learned that many Angolan Christians still believe in different spirits that need to be appeased if the person wants to get better or get out of trouble or achieve success. I had pointed out that God was the creator of the plants and animals and of every “place”. I said that this means there are no spirits connected to a place or creature which has power over people – and needs to be served or appeased. I cannot remember how far I was into my explanation of the Bible on this before the translator stopped translating.  (Remember that I had to try and speak in whole sentences of ten words or less.) I just remember that he stopped and would not proceed because it was too controversial.

From our Canadian perspective it would have been good for me to proceed. I could have helped them address an issue which needs to be addressed. I was prepared to be challenged during Q & A. But this incident does not mean that Canadian churches are “better”. We also have societal and Christian taboos; ours are just different from theirs. I can tell you, as a pastor, that people tell me not to speak on certain topics. Even without someone saying something to us, we Canadian Christians also sense “pressure” to avoid topics like: abortion, same-sex marriage and the trans movement. Those are the “obvious” ones, but there are other less obvious ones: Hell; Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life; and the doctrine of propitiation (Jesus’ death “satisfying” the wrath of God.)

So, please pray for me! Pray for all in our church who teach! Pray for the many local churches in Ottawa. Pray that we will proclaim the Gospel and whole Counsel of God.

George +