Jorge is a pastor on the West African island of São Tomé. He used to preach in Portuguese rather than his first language, Angolar, because he was educated in Portuguese — and because it was the only Bible translation on the island for 500 years.
Problem was, the people in his church all spoke Angolar and didn’t understand much Portuguese. So Jorge began bringing an interpreter. That helped, but the jilted rhythms and exhaustion of listening to both languages back and forth didn’t boost people’s understanding as much as he’d hoped.
But after working with the teams to translate the Bible into Angolar, Jorge’s memory of his first language was rekindled. As they wrestled with the text, he gained confidence to tell Bible stories and preach in Angolar.
One Sunday, Jorge stepped to his pulpit to preach, but there was no interpreter. When he opened his mouth, the people gasped. He recounted a Bible story like a skilled actor, perfectly recited in the heart language of the people. Not only did he recount the story, he then preached about it in Angolar. It was the first time in his congregation’s life, and maybe in the history of his community, that the Bible was preached and expounded in the local language.