In regards to the title of this blog episode, I should perhaps clarify. I’m not a “trekkie.” I like the television series in all its many forms. I’m just not a fanatic. I felt this fact needed to be stated for my own integrity and reputation as a serious person. That said, Star Trek is on my mind a lot lately. Let me explain.
I do not know if all of the amazing things in the world of Star Trek will ever become reality. Transporters, really? Maybe. The food replicaters would be nice, but come on! Who would give up grill’n burgers and brats over open coals? And in what reality would William Shatner ever be taken seriously enough to become a captain?
There is, however, at least one piece of trek-oligy that is not only likely to become a reality, it already is! In the show they had to come up with a way to easily allow for all of these crazy alien types to communicate with each other without an endless scroll of subtitles. No one would tolerate a show that required more reading than listening. Let’s face it, we are too couch-potato-ified for subtitles! On the other had, it wouldn’t seem very likely that everyone in the future simply learned every possible language in the science fiction universe. The solution, a universal translator of course!
The show’s universal translator allows people to simply speak their own native language, while it is instantly translated into the ear of the listener. Amazing! Impossible? Believe it or not, we are already moving in that direction. I use the web based program Google Translate every day here in
. I can type in any letter, any email, or even Germany ’s homework assignments, and presto change-o, it is instantly transformed into English. It’s not perfect, but it is workable. Even my web browser automatically translates webpages that use foreign languages. Some people actually have an app on their mobile phone that allows them to speak into the phone, and then play back an audio of the proper translation. This feature recently saved a pastor friend of mine a great deal of frustration in an Italian taxi! Wilson
Now, here is why this fascinates me. What is one of the greatest obstacles in missions? Even beyond culture, it is language. Trust me, I know. As I fumble through conversations in German, I am constantly reminded of the enormous missional and evangelistic potential of these emerging communication aids. Imagine your church is going on a two week mission trip to
. One problem, no one speaks Romanian. No problem! You have a handy little universal translator! The potential to share the gospel becomes limitless. The confidence alone that a mission team would gain would by itself make their mission efforts more productive. Romania
It will be exciting to see how technology advances into the future, and how Christians might use that technology for the Kingdom. As our world becomes more and more connected, and as internationals continue to cluster everywhere from
to Wiesbaden, Germany , these kinds of tools will certainly play a vital role in ministry. Just imagine a day of technological Pentecost in which believers from all parts of the world could listen to the same sermon, in the same room, yet hear it in the language of their hearts! What a day of rejoicing that will be! Raleigh, North Carolina
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