Translators at the General Conference Session—Bridging the Communication Gap Between Languages
by Brennan J. Wimbish
In Revelation, John tells of seeing a multitude of people standing on the sea of glass. These people were from every kindred, nation, tribe, and tongue. They were gathered together waiting to be taken to heaven to live with God and praise Him forever. Members of the world church experienced a foretaste of heaven as people of all cultures from all over the world came together at the 57th General Conference Session in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Many commented and marveled at the warm fellowship of the event.
One thing I observed was that many Adventists who attended were not well versed in the English language. In fact, a good amount did not speak any English at all! That raised a question in my mind: “We get to heaven will we speak in one ‘angelic’ language?” A Hungarian man responded, “I think we’ll be able to understand each other because after re-creation there won’t be a need for different languages.” Many others echoed those same sentiments. However, while we’re here on earth, translators will have to serve as the medium to bridge the communication gap between languages.
In order to meet the needs of those who did not speak English, over two hundred translators were present in the SkyDome, translating in eleven languages what was being presented each day during the session. “French, Spanish, and Portuguese were the biggest groups here,” commented Daniel Bhookun, a minister from Mauritius working as a French translator. Other translations included Russian, Romanian, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Serbian-Croatian, and Japanese. An audio link fed into headphones that was sent to translators who would then simultaneously translate into the various languages. Delegates and other attendees who needed the translations received it by way of radio frequency.
“The role of translators is very useful here because they make communication better among people across the world,” commented Lee from the Philippines. He was born in the Philippines, raised in Canada, and now lives in Michigan. He continued, “I think in heaven it will be like the day of Pentecost when everyone heard the word of God in their own language.” Others agreed stating that if God could make people understand at Pentecost, certainly He could make the same thing happen in heaven. Whether or not we will all speak one language in heaven— “perhaps an ‘angelic’ language,” as Joy Duerksen from Maryland put it—we’ll have to wait until we get there to know for sure.
Brennan J. Wimbish is a senior communication major at Oakwood College in Huntsville, AL.
Photos should be available in the package of photos.