In a missionary ministry, some things are really fun. There are jobs that I enjoy very much, such as visiting different churches and watching them grow and progress. It is a time to revel in close relationships with the local Christians and church leaders, built up over the years of working together. It is exciting to teach eager students the great truths revealed in Godâ€™s word; to see them light up with understanding as the remnants of cultural Christianity give way to the shining light of simply and pure New Testament Christianity.
It is really fun working with the students at our Christian Day School in Villavicencio as well. The kids squeal with delight when they see me arrive. The younger ones all run up and give me a hug and a kiss while the older ones wait patiently in line to shake my hand or simply chat for a minute or two. There is never enough time to chat with every student who wishes to talk with me as bells ring and classes begin. Yes, there are some aspects of missionary ministry that are pure delight.
But as with any job, there are elements which are quite pleasant and yet there are other aspects of the work that are tedious, even boring. Certainly the international travel with entire days spent on airplanes and in airports is very tiring and often frustrating. The long lines at the security check point and having to remove shoes, empty pockets, and open bags, only to try to hurriedly reclaim everything and repack bags without holding up the line is quite frustrating. That is especially true because the futility of most of that is blatantly obvious. After all, how many eighty year old white haired grannies are going to represent any kind of danger to a flight? Yet in political correctness, everyone must be searched and checked every time they fly.
Yet as with any job, you do not do simply what is enjoyable but you tackle jobs based on what they accomplish and their relevance to the final goal being sought. Some jobs may be tedious but are very important to the final goals being sought. Translation is one such job. Translation work is very tedious. It requires long hours at a keyboard as I struggle with the meaning a phrase or sentence has in English and then look for a dynamic equivalent in Spanish. Words can carry many meanings and the meaning of the author must be sought and then conveyed accurately into the target language. So while translation is a very time consuming and tedious work, it is also a work that is of critical importance. If there is not good literature available, the job of teaching and training new Christians and their leaders is very difficult.
While I could teach whatever I personally know to a limited number of new Christians and the leaders we are developing, it is the literature that enables us to multiply that ministry a hundred times over. Books are able to travel anywhere and teach a limitless number of people. Books can continue to teach when the original teacher has long since disappeared from the scene. So here in Colombia, we have always dedicated a certain portion of our time and efforts to developing good teaching material. On this trip down, I have limited my other activities in order to spend a significant portion of my time on a major translation project.
We are attempting to translate Jack Cottrellâ€™s book, Faith Once for All into the Spanish language. This encyclopedic work on Christian doctrine will be invaluable for the work once finished, but the job of translating it is massive. So on this trip down; I will spend a lot of time hunched over a keyboard, disciplining myself to do an important job even though it is tedious task. It is not as much fun, but the final work will continue to teach and preach long after I an no longer able to be actively involved in those ministries and even after I have been called home and gone on to my reward in heaven.