Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Are You Using a Russian Bible When Church is in English?

I recently met a young couple who are new to this area and had the pleasure of spending an evening at Dairy Queen getting to know them. She was an MK and grew up in Austria and Germany. He majored in Bible with an emphasis on missions and spent time in the Ukraine. One of the things we discussed was this question. Well, not this question exactly. But something similar.

Though I have never actually physically been asked this question, I'm sure there are those of you out there who have seen some random person with a Bible that looks a little bit different than yours. Namely, it looks like this: Библия: В русском переводе

Or maybe not quite like that.

But anyway, back to my story.

The next time I saw this young couple, they were kind enough to let me borrow some song books and a bible that they had picked up in Ukraine.

This does have something to do with the question. I promise.

So I've been kind of flipping through the song books and such. It's been fun seeing what songs some of the Ukrainian congregations are singing. Then I stumbled upon one of my favorite songs, Send the Light. For those of you who don't know this song, I like to think of it as kind of the "Missionary Anthem" as it's all about taking the light to people in other places.

The second verse of this song is what I find most interesting.

We have heard the Macedonian Call today,
Send the light, send the light.
And a golden offering at the cross we lay
Send the light, send the light.

Pretty straightforward right? Yay.

Well, I was skimming through the Russian and the first line was translated such:

Македонский крик звучит и в наши дни

And suddenly a light bulb went off in my head and I was like "Oh!" New understanding dawned. Why? Well because if you translate the Russian line back into English it comes out something like "The Macedonian cry sounds even in our days"

When you put it like that, it means a lot more. All of a sudden, I wasn't just thinking about a reference to some dead guy who wrote half of the New Testament (No offense, sir). Instead it suddenly became more real. The Macedonian call goes out even today. Today. Now. Right now. This very moment. We are supposed to be sending the Light. Everywhere. I guess it just made it more tangible to me.

Then, I read the rest of the Russian translation of the second verse...

Македонский крик звучит и в наши дни:
Дайте света, дайте света.
Не покиньте бедных погибать одних
Дайте света, дайте света.

So... In English we hear the call to send the light and lay golden offerings at the cross. In Russian, the call is going out to Give the light. The third line of the stanza then imperatively commands people to not leave the poor to die alone. Yes, that's what I said.

The Macedonian cry sounds even in our day,
Give the light, Give the light!
Do not leave the poor to die alone,
Give the light, give the light.

Now, I don't know about you but to me, personally reading the Russian is kind of like a slap in the face. It gives me this feeling and sense of urgency that I don't feel when I read the English version of this song. In English it's like "La la la...oh yes we should be sending someone else to take the light...yay..." In Russian it's more like "HEY! HEY! YOU! YES YOU! WE'RE DYING HOPELESS HERE, GIVE US THE LIGHT!!! HELP US!!"

I mean, no offense to Mr. Charles H. Gabriel. I'm sure he had the best of intentions and spoke from the heart when he wrote this song. And it was written in the late 1800s after all.

But this brings me back to my point. Why do I follow along in an English church with a Bible that's in Russian? Because it's amazing what you can learn. I don't know about you, but often I will sit during worship service and kind of zone out. You get to the point where it's like "I've sung this song a thousand times, I've heard sermons similar to this one, I've read this verse over and over" You've done it so many times or heard it so much that after a while you become numb to it and don't even think about it any more. So to read it in a different language, often sheds insight onto the same, old, tired thing. Often it's just because things are worded slightly differently, or you read it in a way that makes you get something new out of it.

Is all of this making sense?


I encourage any of you out there who are studying a foreign language to pick up a Bible in that language. Even if you don't know the language well. Reading will not only help you improve your language skills, but the benefits run deeper as well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Women in Ministry

I spoke at a Ladies' day last Saturday. That plus speaking to a group of teens plus reading some friends' blogs and just a combination of things got me thinking. What about? Well, about women in ministry and women in missions.

I feel like often people don't think about women doing missions. Especially in the Church of Christ. Why? Well, because the men are supposed to be the spiritual head and they are the ones who run the worship service and therefore we women resign ourselves to teaching children's classes, making communion bread and marrying preachers.

Not that these jobs aren't important. Not by any means. I mean let's be real here, what guy knows how to make good communion bread? No, I'm just kidding. There are quite a few guys out there who cook a lot better than I do. But I digress.

My point is that you need to find your niche. The Church of Christ prides itself on being based on New Testament example. Let me tell you what Ladies, if you're not out there finding ways to share your faith, that's wrong. There are plenty of examples of New Testament women who got out there and were actively involved in the works of the church. Lydia invited people to gather in her home, Lois and Eunice brought Timothy up to know Christ and the women in Luke 8 went with Jesus and the Disciples and provided for them with their own money. Kind of a big deal since that was in the days before women's lib.

So is it wrong to go into the ministry with a husband? No. Men need a helpmate and if that's what God has called you to do, then by all means do it. But what I'm saying is that you need to consider your options and keep an open mind. Be creative. We are all called to share our faith. If we're not doing that, we're wrong.

Single ladies, I know a lot of times you think you need a husband in order to go into the ministry. But you can find your own ministry separate and apart from that. I know single women serving in Russia, China, Burkina Faso and of course here in the states. What are your talents and gifts? How can you serve? If you like children, then by all means teach children's classes. Do you relate well to teenagers? Start a mentorship program for teenage girls.

We all have people that only we can reach. Whether it's here or abroad. I think a lot of times congregations focus on certain, common ministries such as youth or seniors. Often they overlook women. So reach out to the other women in your congregation. Start a night where you get together and just have girl time.

It doesn't have to be formal, it doesn't have to be a big deal. But ladies, I encourage you to get out there and find where you belong in God's Kingdom. We are one body but we have many parts.

Please note that this does not apply to women in worship. While, like all organized denominations, I think the Church of Christ has some issues. I feel that scripturally men are the ones who need to be leading in worship. Just trying to head off the nasty comments before I get them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

My brother came home from China a couple of weeks ago. It's been interesting to see how he's been dealing with being back. He was in China for two years. He came back for about six weeks last summer and didn't seem to really have any major issues with returning to the states. I think this second year he got a lot more into the culture and Chinese life though, because it's been interesting having him back.

I had a really rough time when I first came back from my exchange year in Russia. I felt extremely strange, it felt like no one understood my thoughts, feelings or views. There were things here that just didn't make sense because I was used to the Russian way of doing them. It was weird. And it's been very interesting seeing reverse culture shock from this side.

It started when we went to Dollar General. My brother started completely freaking out in the grocery aisles. I asked him why. He explained it was because a lot of the American food they were selling was hard to come by in China, or they didn't have it at all and so to be faced with it all at once and having it be so cheap was a little overwhelming. I understood. My city in Russia never had a variety of brand or varieties of a product at once. When I came back from the states, the amount of variety we have here was rather unsettling.

My brother also found it weird that he could understand everything everyone was saying. While he is not fluent in Chinese, he was exposed to it every day and gained a decent amount of survival Chinese. He was used to being able to just kind of ignore what everyone around him was saying and think about other things. Here, he finds understanding everyone to be distracting.

He also laughs because "Everyone here has an accent." Meaning he is very attuned to the patterns in which people speak. I can definitely feel him on this one. When I came back from Russia, it was weird to hear all that english. I remember my parents were watching Good Eats on the Food Network when I came in the room. I stopped, listening to Alton Brown. After a moment I was like "I have to leave." My parents asked why and I explained that Alton Brown talks funny and it was driving me nuts.

There are other things too, such as his random fits of the giggles during worship services. I've mentioned this before but other countries don't take Christianity for granted like we do. As my brother put it, "Christianity is America's folk religion." Meaning that a lot of people are "Christian" because that's what we do here.

Anyway, those are just a few interesting examples of how my brother is adjusting back to life in the states. He asks me things like how long it will last, or mentions things that bother him. I just nod and tell him I understand. Other than that I don't know what to do. Talking about it with people who've been there helps. Aside from that, you just kind of have to work through it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Missionary (Part A)

So, I always wondered what it is that missionaries do a on a regular basis. So I decided to do a series. This is the first part. The second part will come when I'm actually in Russia. But even though I'm not actually in-country yet, Being a missionary is still a job. So here's a sample of a day in my life.

My day starts at 3 a.m. with a call to the Russian consulate in Helsinki, Finland. I've been trying to figure out some visa issues and am attempting to call places who may be able to help. I manage to get a hold of someone at the consulate general who directs me to a different number.

3:20 a.m. My attempts at calling the new Helsinki number are met with a busy signal. I decide to try calling the consulate in Lvov, Ukraine. It's busy there as well. I try Finland again...

3:30 a.m. After trying both locations several times, I resolve to try again in a few hours.

8 a.m. I try the consulates several more times. Still nothing.

1 p.m. I work on a lesson for tomorrow night. I am speaking to a group of teenagers at a VBS about how God can work unexpectedly in their lives and can use them even when they can't completely see his plan. I get ideas for how I'm going to present my topic while creating a video to show.

5:30 p.m. I take a spiritual gifts assessment to help me better define myself and what I can help with in the Russian church.

6 p.m. I work on putting my ideas for tomorrow's talk down on paper

6:45 p.m. I eat dinner and relax with my family

So there you have it. A day in the life of a missionary who is preparing to go out on the field.