Sharp Contrasts from East Asia

It was so different where Ester came from in East Asia.  At home it never gets below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but here she experienced the snow and severe cold for the first time.  Instead of the noisy, crowded city where she usually lives, she was able roam around the quiet, open, tree-lined campus of our synod’s seminary in the USA.  Instead of her homeland where a majority are of the Islamic faith, she was surrounded by Christians who share the same faith as she has. What a contrast!  Add to that the fact that she was the only woman in classes filled with men studying to be pastors.  Her husband Mikael had come to America to reinforce the seminary training he had in his homeland.  Ester came along to get training as translator for Multi-Language Publications.  She took classes like systematic theology, soteriology, isagogics, to learn more doctrinal content and theological terminology.

Although she was raised in a Christian home, Ester struggled to know God’s calling for her life while she was in college.  She felt that God wanted her to serve in media.  Then in 2004 she landed a job translating Lutheran books.  It was the first time she knew anything about Lutheran.  Ester’s faith journey took another jump when she met Mikael in our Lutheran seminary in her home country where she was teaching English for the students.  Mikael was one of her students.  Now she is a translator for Multi-Language Publications providing resources for him and the other church workers and congregations of Christians throughout their country.

In my regular Skype calls from my Hong Kong office, I often only see Ester’s silhouette because of the bright, hot sun shining behind her through the louvered windows. Yet I can still notice her smile. Being a translator isn’t an easy job nor one a lot of people pursue. Many think all you have to do is hit Google Translate and voilà it’s done (but try to make sense of some of that – especially if it is theology).  To improve her skills, Ester has gone through continual training including the Translation Courses held by us here in Hong Kong.

Recognizing that there are not enough solid biblical materials available for pastors and church workers, Ester has been busy producing devotion booklets, Luther’s Small Catechism, and Christlight Sunday School material.  She sees this as basic resources for understanding the Scriptures which points people to Jesus and His saving work.  That is a sharp contrast from what is being taught in the streets around her.  Soon she will tackle the editing of the doctrinal book, God So Loved the World, as a textbook for Lutheran leaders.

Among Ester’s challenges is the fact that reading interest is low.  Video and digital outreach are being explored as the option.  In some remote areas where people are illiterate, the Road to Emmaus and Come Follow Me movies dubbed in the local language have been received with excitement. They have become great tools to explain the gospel clearly.

Ester says that it is not always easy to live in a country where most of the people are not Christian.  There are always elements that want to keep Christianity from growing. Despite all the challenges, God continues to bless the work.  Ester doesn’t not know how wide an impact her work will have but is sure the Holy Spirit works through it.  And that is where the joy comes in – knowing she is working behind the scenes to make Christian materials available for broken people.  She wants them to also hear the good news that she saw in action and learned to appreciate even more during her year on the seminary campus in the USA.

By: Rev. David Kehl, Asian Publications Coordinator