Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2015
Texts: Acts 2:5–21; 10:1–8, 23–48; Romans 2:14–16; Acts 10:9–22; 11:1–10; 15:1–35
Electronic speech translation has come a long way since it was first introduced by the NEC Corporation back in 1983. It wasn’t until 1997 that an actual device was manufactured which could translate continuous free speech. Robert Palmquist created an English-Spanish vocabulary system that was funded by the Office of Naval Research.
Now you can purchase many low-cost electronic translators that will interpret and “speak” phrases in more than a dozen languages. Phone apps have been created to make your smartphone do the foreign language talking for you.
One of the magical “voice to voice” translation apps you can download is the iTranslate Voice 3. This nifty app provides spectacular, real-time language translation and executes “perfectly.” Watch the video of a woman lost in a big city. She walks up to a stranger and asks a question. Instantly, iTranslate translates her question into a foreign language. Then the stranger speaks back and instantly she gets a response that she can understand!1
Currently, iTranslate supports 42 languages and dialects. Its website boasts that it can help you “speak in tongues.” Not only can it turn text into speech, its voice recognition can turn speech into text. AirTranslate is another feature that lets two devices using iTranslate connect and communicate in different languages.
When the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost on the disciples and they began to share the gospel to visitors in Jerusalem from around the world, everyone heard the message in their own language. It was as if each person had their own personal translation assistant. How could this be? Were angels from heaven interpreting for different language groups in the crowd?
These are some of the interesting questions we’ll have to wait and ask when we get to heaven. Perhaps Peter will shake his head when we pepper him with questions. Maybe he will just shrug his shoulders and say, “I don’t understand how it happened. I was simply being faithful to the call of the Holy Spirit to preach Christ.”
The experiences of Peter in this week’s Sabbath school lesson reveal to us that even after this incredible launch of the gospel to the world, he still struggled with moving outside his comfort zone. But the Lord patiently led him to go beyond his prejudices and share God’s love with those he formerly avoided.
God has given us each a personal assistant through the Holy Spirit to reach the world as missionaries, whether it is to a refugee down the street or a contact made on a trip to another land.
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