9 November, 2009

Dear Brethren,

Our brother Dr. Dale R. Meade has been helping our organization prepare literature for use in Latin America. His work is very valuable to us and to Spanish speaking brethren. This letter is to tell why.

Literature And Teaching Ministries (LATM) was created to help provide culturally relevant, Christ-centered books in the heart languages of people throughout the world. As people of the Stone-Campbell movement our service to the world wide church of the Savior includes inspiring hope, nurturing faith, and helping leaders think clearly. Our movement turns people to the Bible to answer the questions of life and the difficulties of being a church. It emphasizes confidence in the words of our Lord and urges all followers of the Christ to make disciples for Him. And it holds in high esteem the loving unity of God’s people—that specific element that convinces the world that God sent His Son.

This sort of person is not the ordinary missionary you find on any field and working within whatever organization. But the Stone-Campbell people tend to have these characteristics. At LATM we are always looking for people who can help us produce books that will advance the kingdom of God in the field where they are working. Dr. Meade knows the culture where he works in Colombia and in Latin America in general. That makes him very valuable to us. He knows the Bible and what biblically sound books will be a help for the Lord’s work in Colombia.

More and more we are seeing there is a lack of books to help train up church leaders who speak Spanish. Missionaries and national workers are evangelizing and beginning new congregations throughout the Spanish speaking western world. As they work to mature the saints and implant in them a desire to open new congregations, many missionaries turn a major part of their efforts to leadership training. There are not very many Bible college level books with a non-denominational perspective for teachers to use to train new church workers. This is one of the needs we are working to supply.

Dr. Meade has his eye on this need as well. He is working with us for the benefit of his own ministry, but with results that aid others. While the books he helps prepare are a benefit to him and his contact people, they can also minister in all lands where there is a Spanish speaking church that wants to learn from the Bible.

To be sure, some books are written in Spanish. The authors are leaders who know the Lord well and who have a talent for writing. We want to promote this more and more. At the moment, there are not many Spanish speakers who can reach across denominational lines with clear writing, an international focus, and experience with shepherding people. English books that are appropriate are being translated into Spanish to help develop this kind of leader who will write for the benefit of others. Mostly we produce Christian books in Spanish that are translations from books in English. The most recent project Dr. Meade has helped us with is The Faith Once for All by Dr. Jack Cottrell.

We could hire a translator to convert books into Spanish. There are two hindrances to this approach: First of all, we need someone who not only can translate, but someone who understands the goal of spiritual growth and who knows how the day to day living of the target audience is different from that of the people who read the same book in English. Dr. Dale Meade knows those differences and so when he translates, he can do a cultural adaptation on each page if he needs to—in order for the new audience to catch the eternal principle instead of being confused by an illustration that doesn’t speak to them.

Have you ever had occasion to explain how football is played to someone who did not grow up in the USA? Many Christian authors in our land use sports to illustrate. But that wouldn’t work even if the episode were translated well. Not only are Latin Americans confused by our kind of football, they are decidedly not interested in ever playing a sport where everyone jumps on top of one person to make a big human mound!

A second hindrance to hiring a translator for Christian books into Spanish is the cost. Do you know the going rate for paying a translator for a book? We never have to pay full price for a Spanish translation, but even a discounted price for a book is hundreds of dollars. Businesses will often pay 10 cents a word for a good translation. A common word count for a page in a book is 250 or 300 words. A whole book is expensive, even at a greatly discounted rate.

But because of having a vision of getting good books into the hands of people to influence them, Dr. Meade does not charge us a thing. He uses his time as a missionary to partner with us and help us produce books that will influence people far beyond the ones he will teach in his lifetime. We are so grateful for his partnership and for others like him. It is our vision (as it is his) to help people fall in love with Christ, become dedicated followers, and to lead others to the Good Shepherd—through books. This is a kind of ministry that can take godly influence beyond the places we will ever visit, and years past our limited time on earth.

Having served on foreign soil, I know that a missionary must choose well his priorities. There is way too much to be done than what available workers can do. That’s another reason why we thank God for Dr. Dale Meade. He is looking out for the good of the flock where he is working, but also is investing in the broader ministry of helping the whole Latin American church wherever it is found. He knows the value of education and invests heavily in it for God’s kingdom. Books are effective tools.

If we do not have partners on the field who know their host culture and who can translate with holy hearts as well as good minds, our task will be set back years and maybe decades. Please join with me in thanking God for wise men like our brother, Dr. Meade, who give themselves to help people they don’t even know. And may we all grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus!

Yours for the King,
Ralph Shead
LATM Spanish Projects Coordinator