What It Will Produce
In Mitla, Mexico, Jodi Bunn and Marty Barkey, members of the JAARS Learning and Development Leadership team, led a week-long interpersonal workshop for 11 Bible Translation Consultants in Training (CITs). This workshop was in partnership with SIL Mexico, which trained the CITs in other skills in the afternoons.
Consultants aid translators in producing clear and accurate Scripture in people’s minority languages and often work with languages that aren’t their own.
About a third of the members of the group in Mexico were indigenous Bible translators who had translated Scripture into their own language and were now learning how to be consultants for other people groups in Mexico. Another third were mission workers from other Latin American countries, and a few were mission workers from Europe and North America. All were learning how to be consultants.
Some of their required training included interpersonal skills because they will be working with translators from cultures other than their own: “There’s always a culture difference between the consultant and the translation team they’re working with, even if they’re also indigenous,” the workshop organizer told Marty and Jodi.
The Learning and Development team leads these Spiritual and Relational Vitality (SRV) workshops around the world, but the team hadn’t led any since COVID-19 and never for CITs specifically, so Marty and Jodi jumped at the chance to serve in Mexico. They personalized the content for the group in Mexico, not only in advance by translating the material into Spanish, but also in the moment as they listened to the Holy Spirit.
During the session, when the two taught on encouragement, it became apparent that this attribute isn’t common in some of the participants’ cultures. So instead of plowing through the material, Jodi and Marty paused. They sought the Lord’s guidance that evening, realizing that they needed to return to Scripture: “We needed them to see what God’s Word says about encouraging, that this is something that God wants to strengthen in them, even if it’s not common in their culture,” Jodi explained.
The next day, they had the participants read the passage about Saul’s encounter with Jesus and his visit with Ananias and discuss it in small groups. “What really stood out [for the participants] was that Jesus didn’t leave Paul alone [after appearing to him],” Jodi said. “Jesus sent someone to mentor Paul and to walk alongside him and encourage him.”
The participants saw that Ananias supported and walked alongside Paul in his transition into ministry. This was similar to what the CITs’ mentors do for them and what they are called to do for the translation teams they work with.
The workshop also covered topics such as forgiveness, managing conflict, and our identity in Christ as believers. The participants laid down their burdens before God and thought about what areas in their lives they were at peace with and what areas they’re not because they’ll bring that into the translation meetings with them.
Jodi and Marty also learned much from the participants, who discussed how, for some of their indigenous cultures, direct questions are too invasive. Instead, they need to just listen. One of the indigenous CITs said, “It will take several hours, but I just need to be there and be quiet and listen, and let them share their story.”
This increased Marty and Jodi’s understanding of important differences in how to encourage others.
They also were impressed by the perseverance of these brothers and sisters in the Lord in the face of great challenges. One brother had worked in his own language community for years without any response to the Word of God. His mentor encouraged him: “You don’t know what this is going to produce.”
Indeed, only God knows what fruit will grow from all these consultants’ hard work, from Marty and Jodi’s willingness to listen and serve, and from the power of God’s Word.