As a member-in-training with All-Nations, I’ve had several pursuits outside of linguistics and languages over the last few years. One side gig I enjoy is filmmaking, and after another refreshing and encouraging Camp Week, a metaphor from filmmaking comes to mind to describe what I have experienced every time we get together on “The Hill” in State College for the annual event.
There’s a shot you can use in a film called a “rack focus” shot. It’s described in one online source this way: “A commonly used technique in both film and television to shift focus from a foreground object to a background object by turning the focal ring on a lens.” Think of a shot that starts with a close-up on autumn leaves. Suddenly the close-up fades and the blurry background becomes clear: it’s a church building—perhaps with a sign out front announcing the marriage of a happy couple. This shot tells a story: it’s a wedding. A rack-focus shot opens up the viewer’s perspective, takes them on a journey, gives them the bigger picture—the point of the thing.
I’ve found that the demands of Bible translation—studies, planning, preparation, visas, travel, strategy, and more studies—can tend to focus my attention on the foreground. Maybe the details, the minutia, the requirements of your vocation can do the same thing to you.
Every year, Camp Week is a time to rack my focus back to the big picture: the unreached. The goal of “communities of believers in every language group living out the word of God.” The worth of Jesus to receive the worship of “every tribe, tongue, nation, and language.”
Here are a few of the ways that happened this year:
- Worshipping and singing together in the unique acoustics of the new All-Nations building. Isaac Watts’s “The Heav'ns Declare Thy Glory, Lord” is still ringing in my mind.
- Val Yoder’s exhortation to love Christ by loving his bride—our local church
- Joel Yoder’s cautionary wisdom and experience relating to missionary overload and burnout
- Early morning prayer and worship in the prayer garden
- Discussions with fellow trainees/translators on manuscripts, linguistics, and translation philosophy (because you can’t totally keep linguist types from their enjoyment of the minutia)
- The support and encouragement we received from our church’s support team, who joined us Thursday for “Church Day” and Friday for “EXPLORE.” We were able to enjoy a beautiful evening in the prayer garden with them as well—strategizing, dreaming, and praying together for our fledgling project.
- The stories of missionaries and translators in Nicaragua, China, Africa, and Papua New Guinea—the Kingdom is really breaking in all over the world in surprising ways both small and large.
Camp Week is one way the Lord continues to pull my focus back to the big picture. He does it in other ways as well: updates from friends on the field, missionary biographies, and most of all, intercessory prayer.
Are there steps you’re taking to allow him to do the same for you?