Interpreting a sermon could be a challenging task and there aren’t many who can do it perfectly. In a time when most preachers prefer to use English as a medium of communication in their churches, the need for a translator for those who do not understand the language cannot be underscored.
The Gospel Ambassadors Church located at Lapaz has been in existence for more than two decades. Every Sunday, a translator is required throughout their English sermons primarily to bridge the gap between congregants who do not have a fair understanding of the English language.
Pastor Dan, is one of the many Translators at the Gospel Ambassadors church. He’s been actively involved in sermon translations for more than a decade.
‘The ‘twi’ language does not have a lot of vocabulary, there are a lot of English words that do not have twi words so, it becomes very difficult to find twi words to translate it. Here, you the translator need to improvise and say something’ he says.
But sometimes, things can go wrong. Especially when the preacher uses a word wrongly in a sentence to communicate a different meaning or perhaps when the preacher uses a word the translator does not understand.
Pastor Dan believes his ability to translate is divine a skill that cannot be taught or learnt. One from the Holy Spirit.
‘‘It is not a performance, this is purely spiritual. Obviously, if you do not have confidence, you would fumble’’ He added.
The story is no different at the Kingdom Grace Chapel located at Osu, where I visited. I met up with Deaconess Nana Konadu Afrifa, the female translator there who has been translating for the past nine years.
She says her job is even more complex as she’s faced with the task of translating from English to Twi and from Twi to Ga depending on the language the preacher chooses at a particular time.
Even she sometimes gets confused.
‘I could remember I met a man from South Africa at our head office. His English was very ‘deep’ and I just didn’t get what he was saying. So I had to simply summarize whatever he was saying” she further added.
Regardless of this, without translators like Deaconess Afrifa, church services would really be meaningless for many worshippers who do not understand the English language.
Such translators are perhaps the only reason some people remain in the church.
‘About four years ago, an old woman approached and said that if I do not come to church she would not come either. When I questioned her she said she doesn’t understand the Twi and English so when I translate into Ga it becomes simpler to appreciate,” Deaconess Afrifa said.
For some congregants, the presence of church translator distorts the message and advice that the establishment of different services could help save time.
For the thousands who congregate in churches each day and night to listen to sermons preached in different languages, often the other voice from the pulpit that echoes in their mother tongue makes the worship experience even richer and meaningful.