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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

June 5, 2008

UCG literature in Arabic?

Filed under UCG-Germany

Will UCG literature also be available in Arabic, with the potential to reach hundreds of millions of additional people?

Some five weeks ago or so I received an email from Peter Eddington. Peter reported that he had a letter from a fellow in Bonn who was offering to translate our booklet "The Middle East in Bible Prophecy" into Arabic. Peter asked me to contact the man and determine whether his offer was genuine.

In my 30 years of experience outside the USA in non-English areas this wasn’t the first time that I had encountered this kind of offer, although it was a first for Arabic. Usually the well-meaning individuals lack the translation skills required, or they do not understand our "theology" and tend to translate in terms of traditional Christian understanding.

So with a bit of experienced caution I made contact with Mulham, an Iraqi national who spent 13 years in exile in Iran and now lives in Bonn. Here he works for the Arabic language service of Germany’s shortwave station "Die Deutsche Welle". Via a satellite and local Iraqi FM network, the "Deutsche Welle" hosts a weekly radio program in Iraq with a "talk radio" format. The target audience is young Iraqis between 15 and 30 years of age.

This past Monday I took UCG-Germany editorial staff member Jesmina Allaoua along to meet him. Jesmina’s dad was from Algeria, so I thought her assessment might be helpful. We spent two hours talking to Mulham at an outdoor cafe. Mulham grew up tri-lingual. Mulham and Paul Kieffer He speaks fluent Arabic, English and Persian. He told us he has now also had 800 hours of intensive German language training and finds German more difficult than the other languages he speaks. His English was excellent, and he has already translated five books from Arabic into English. It was clear that I was not talking to an amateur. Translating the "Middle East" booklet into Arabic would be his first translation from English into Arabic.

I asked him why he wanted to translate our booklet. He said he has been reading the "Good News" for some time now. Mulham mentioned that he couldn’t find anything wrong in our literature compared with the Bible. As far as he can determine, there are no contradictions. On the Arabic website of Google News he gets alerts about items posted about the Middle East, especially in Iraq. One news item was a blog reference to our booklet. He was curious so he ordered the booklet and read it. He said it provided excellent insight into the Middle East situation and its background and needed to be made available to Arabic readers. He also said that of the three major religions active in the Middle East (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), he believes Christianity offers the best prospects for peace. He has read the Koran many times, yet without understanding it fully.

Then I asked him about the fee for his work. "I will do it for free," he said, "but you have to publish it." In other words, he doesn’t want his work to wind up on a shelf somewhere. We agreed that he would translate the introduction of the booklet for us to evaluate, and upon getting the green light from us he would do the rest of the booklet. Mulham sincerely believes by translating our booklet for free he is helping to promote peace among people.

I was surprised on Tuesday (the next day) to receive an email from him with the completed translation assignment. It was in a Microsoft Word file with Arabic characters. The "box" on page 3 had a highlighted background so we could recognize it. We forwarded it on to Peter Eddington, who now has the delightful task of proofreading the material.

Talking to Mulham was quite an experience. His news sources are mainly in Arabic, so his viewpoint and assessment of the current Middle Eastern situation were quite interesting. He expressed interest in translating other UCG material, so I want to send him our "United States and Britain" booklet next.

Does our heavenly father want our unique UCG message available in a native language to a part of the world that is destined to play an important role in Bible prophecy? We can’t say for sure, but the circumstances associated with establishing this contact were highly unusual, to say the least.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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