Coming to a theater near you …

Sometime around Christmas, Katherine and I saw the trailer for the movie The King’s Speech. It looked interesting, especially since it starred Colin Firth, an actor we both enjoyed in Pride and Prejudice. A few weeks ago, Katherine saw the movie here in St. Joe with my aunt and cousins. She liked the film quite a lot.

I like to watch movie trailers – they boil down films enough to fit into a short time span, give each viewer a strong sense of the content, and leave the interested viewer with a desire to know more. But it had been some time since I had seen the preview for The King’s Speech. Despite Katherine’s concern that she would spoil it for me, I asked her to describe the movie’s plot, characters, and developments. When she did, I understood the movie much better and realized that while the trailer was certainly accurate, there was much more to the film than what those short segments depicted. And since I haven’t experienced the movie for myself, even her own vivid description is fading in my mind. Until I see it, I’m missing out – and the film’s accolades and award nominations are lost on me.

So what does that have to do with Bible translation?

Until translation of the Bible happens for a language, the speakers of the language have experienced, at best, only the “trailer” for God’s Word. They’ve heard limited portions of the message. That may be because only the main points are available in their language, or because they heard it in a language that they don’t understand fully.

For example, would you go see a movie if its trailer was visually interesting – but all the dialogue was in Hungarian? (Try this one – it might be familiar.) What if someone who understood Hungarian described it to you? Or offered to interpret all the lines for you at the theater? Would you be interested then? Would you expect to have a good experience?

What if the content was important to your own safety? Anyone who has flown will recognize the fundamental messages in this video, but I doubt that you’d be able to tell me exactly what was said.

So where does that leave us with The Greatest Story Ever Told? Not only does the content have everything that makes for successful films – God’s Message is absolutely critical for the eternal safety of every person alive. Yet more than 340 million people can’t get this message because it’s not available in the 2,100 languages (and more) that they speak. The whole message is available in 457 languages. (Including in Hungarian, with film.) But many people have to be told, “I’m sorry, that movie’s not showing in a theater near you.”

The good news is that we’re not satisfied with that statement – right now, Wycliffe is working in more than 1,500 languages to get God’s Message out. And we’re not alone – the Church is cooperating more and more on that effort. There are a lot of names that roll by in the credits, in addition to the Producer, Director, and Star who makes it all possible. Katherine’s name and mine are in the credits, too, along with those of the people who pray for and support us. Where is your name among them all?

One more thing – think about what happens to you when you are completely drawn in to a movie and it takes first place among your favorites. What has God’s Message done to you?

And just one more thing. Really – I mean it this time. Guess who will be among the people I’m serving once we get to Europe? That’s right – Wycliffe Hungary.

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David Liddle

I grew up outside of Philadelphia in Media, PA, and graduated from The Citadel in 1994. I joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1995 and went to Africa for the first time in 1997. Katherine and I were married in November 1998.