Language skills build bridges to share the Gospel
On a scorching night in Phoenix, Ariz., this June, some Crossover teams were tired and a bit discouraged. “We had had a rough night,” recalls Luis Gonzalez. “Nobody wanted to talk to us. So many people shut the door in our faces.”
His team went to a poor minority neighborhood. “We got out of our van and prayed. Immediately we saw a man watering his garden,” he says. “We talked to him, and I was able to speak with him in Spanish and tell him about Christ.”
Moments later, Bruce Gale called. Gale, a Master of Divinity student, asked Gonzalez for translation assistance. Gale had shared the Gospel with a Spanish-speaking woman but wanted to talk to her with more clarity. Gonzalez arrived, walked her through the Gospel in Spanish, and then translated as Gale prayed with her.
“She was open, and she came to Christ,” Gonzalez says. “She was crying. She wasn’t being loved. Family problems. I said, ‘You need Jesus in your heart.’ She told us it was her birthday and she was alone and had no one even to hug her. So the team hugged her.”
Those two instances and many others illustrate the power of translation in sharing the Word of God. “So many times I used my language to help my team,” Gonzalez says.
Gonzalez is a bachelor’s student in Scarborough College, a carpenter and an ordained pastor, making a difference in outreach to Spanish-speaking people. “At Crossover, we engaged in a few more conversations. We met a Hispanic family—they were Carlos, Carla and Carlitos—and asked to talk to them.” A fellow team member shared the Gospel with Carlos in English and Gonzalez translated, standing between them. They were in a rough neighborhood and night was falling, and they needed to leave soon.
Then Carlos asked, “Can you wait? My brother’s coming. Can you talk to him?”
“You can tell him everything we told you,” Gonzalez said. “I can tell him?” Carlos asked.
“Everything I just shared with you, you share with him,” Gonzales replied. “You can do it.”
Carlos’ face opened up in happiness. He said he was going to share with his brother, “and I’m going to share with my mom right now, too.”
Later that week, Gonzalez shared the Word of God with another Spanish-speaking woman. “That night, when I was praying in my room for my devotional, I saw so many beautiful things in our team, our talents,” Gonzalez recalls. “We were a team working together for God, using all the tools we have.”
In Arizona, sharing the Word of God door to door was hard work, but rewarding, he says. “Every day, God used the things we had done to charge our batteries. For me, speaking Spanish, that was a blessing.”