I’ll never forget one of my first ministry trips to Japan. Most of you know that I love Japan. I lived there for over 4 years while in the Air Force and met my wife there. I’d move back tomorrow if I could afford to take the whole family. But, that’s not gonna’ happen any time soon!
Anyway, back to my story. On this trip there was a young man that was assigned to drive me to the speaking venues as well as to translate for me. When you do ministry in Japan, bring your running shoes. We would speak in one place in the morning and then travel to speak to a different place in the evening. It was hectic.
Before we started the speaking tour I spent the first day at the office of the ministry that had brought me over. The president of the Japanese ministry wanted me to give a talk to he and his staff. Afterwards, they gave me very good feedback and idea’s on how to better communicate to the Japanese audience.
Here’s a tip for all of you who are interested in becoming involved in speaking ministry someday. It also works for all of us that are trying to be better communicators to the lost.
Know your audience! If you don’t know your audience you can lose them pretty quickly. There are illustrations and words that I can use in one part of America, but not in other parts because it just wouldn’t make sense.
International ministry, now that can be very difficult! Very few of the illustrations that I use here work in foreign countries, people from different cultures just think different! I’m not saying they’re bad and we’re good, people are just unique!
Now, let me hasten to add that we never change the Gospel message. We just have to be wise in the way that we deliver the message. You have to know your audience.
Personally, I love using humor if at all possible. Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things to translate is . . . humor! All of the illustrations that I normally use here just wouldn’t work on the Japanese audience. So, I was really looking hard to find something that would connect with people and set up where the message was going.
God delivered the illustration on the second day, just before taking off on the road trip.
The young man that was driving and translating was a little big when compared to a typical Japanese man. He was so excited that he was traveling with me because I made him look small! I’m serious, he was extremely happy which hurt my feelings a little. Come on, I’m not that big!
Anyway, he couldn’t wait to get me on a scale to see how much I weighed. I really didn’t want to get on there, but he insisted, so I did. I weighed 100 kilo’s. (I’m not saying how much that was in pounds, figure it out for yourself if you want to make me feel bad!)
He got up on the scale, and guess what, HE WEIGHED 100 kilo’s! You have never seen such a disappointed man in all of your life. He just kept saying, “No way, that’s not possible, you’re so much bigger than me!”
Truth be told, I was feeling pretty good, but I tried not to gloat.
About an hour later he came up to me and was happy again. And the reason he was happy? He had discovered that the scale we had used to weigh each other only went to 100 kilo’s! He now wanted to find another scale to reweigh us. I refused. I told him that we had weighed each other and I was sticking with what we saw on the first scale!
The rest of the trip I told the story and folks would laugh, but then I used it to make the point that if you have a wrong “scale” you’re not going to have the right answer. I’d say something like,
“I could weigh myself on that scale every day for the rest of my life and feel like I’m doing great. Who needs to diet or exercise, I’m not gaining weight and I eat whatever I want! The only problem is, it’s not true.”
Well the same thing is true for us today. Many of us are using what we feel, think, hope, how we were raised, what we like or don’t like etc. as our “scale” to know if something is true or not. That “scale” will lead to bad places. (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25, 28:26)
Ultimately though, there is only one absolute source of truth and that is the Word of God. (Psalm 119:160, John 8:31-32, 2 Corinthians 13:8)
Let’s use everyday circumstances to communicate the truth of God’s Word to those He has put in our path. (Deuteronomy 11:19) Blessings and . . .
Carl Kerby is an inspiring, motivating and highly respected Christian speaker. With more than 20 years of ministry experience, Carl shares his extensive knowledge and understanding of God’s creation in his presentations, outreach events, books and other resources as the President and founding board member of Reasons for Hope, Inc.