Empowering Cross-Cultural Discipleship: Gordon Students Translate Key Christian Discipleship Book 

Jeff Stevenson, professor of Spanish

Even though Leadership Ministries Worldwide reports that more than 90 percent of people in Latin America are Christians, many don’t have access to biblical resources originally written in their native language to help them live out the gospel. To remedy this Dr. Guillermo Mac Kenzie, pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevo Avivamiento in Argentina, and a doctoral student at Lancaster Bible College Capital Seminary, wrote Crecimiento Integral en la Fe: Discipulado para todas las esferas de la vida. And soon, thanks to Hannah Donnelly `21, Anne Shearer `24, Kellyn Burden `24 and Libby Trudeau `24, this book will also be available to English readers under the title Comprehensive Christian Growth for Whole-Life Discipleship

“This book is important because there is often a disconnect between church and life in the Latin American church, called the ‘sacred-secular divide,’” says Jeffrey Stevenson, professor of Spanish and longtime resident of Chile. “Most such resources must be translated into Spanish from English, but this book is rare because Spanish is its original language…Guillermo is one of very few authors writing about the theology of work, vocation and whole-life discipleship in Spanish.” 

From One Language to Another 

Hannah Donnelly `21, Spanish Major

Stevenson is the founder of the nonprofit Proyecto Nehemías (The Nehemiah Project), a Spanish-language publishing house that produces content on faith and work, whole-life discipleship, theological education and resilience in ministry for digital and print distribution. Since Crecimiento Integral en la Fe is a valuable discipleship tool for believers, Stevenson wanted its wisdom to be available for an English-speaking audience as well. 

Spanish major Hannah Donnelly translated the English draft of Mac Kenzie’s book during an independent study project with Stevenson in the spring of 2021 to explore translation work. “It was truly an honor to work on this project,” Donnelly says. “Learning Spanish from Dr. Stevenson meant entering the beauty of linguistics, engaging with the reality of language as a relational skill in Kingdom work and looking forward to possibilities of being used by the Lord around the world with this gift of language.”  

With the English translation now finished, the book needs copy-editing and proofreading. Stevenson selected three English majors to take on the project and make it their own. “To have our names on something like this is such a unique opportunity for us,” says Trudeau, who is double majoring in English and linguistics. “I hope that this book greatly benefits people, whether they’re Spanish- or English-speaking, Christian or interested in Christianity.” 

Bringing a Book to Life 

Editing a book, especially a translated one, is no easy task. Shearer, Burden and Trudeau had to come up with a system to divide the work evenly while setting consistent editorial standards and ensuring translational accuracy. Would they use an Oxford comma or not? How would they handle commas in introductory phrases? Would they hyphenate words that begin with prefixes? Were there any Spanish words that didn’t translate perfectly to English? Were there any “Christian-ese” or confusing terms that needed to be eliminated from the book and its discussion questions? Once they decided on these matters, they had to implement their editorial decisions consistently. 

Shearer, Burden and Trudeau are taking the book page by page and dividing the work according to their skill sets. First, Burden uses her minor in Spanish to check the translation’s accuracy and her creative writing concentration to check the flow of the text. Trudeau proofreads Burden’s work with a linguistic eye. Shearer—who is the managing editor for Gordon’s student publication The Tartan, a professional writing concentration student and an intern at Proyecto Nehemías—serves as the copy editor, eyeing every editorial detail. Finally, they take turns doing a final proofread on each section to ensure nothing gets missed. Shearer, Burden and Trudeau meet weekly to discuss the project and work together, keeping track of everything in a comprehensive Excel sheet. 

The Power of Words 

The process has been eye-opening for each of the students, especially when it comes to possible careers in the humanities that integrate their faith. “This book is helping Spanish-speaking Christians connect Jesus to their daily lives, and soon, English-speaking Christians as well,” Shearer says. “One day I want to write about missionaries and bring their stories from overseas back here to help connect the church and help Christians here feel more connected with their brothers and sisters around the world through words.” 

Shearer, Burden and Trudeau hope to complete the translation before the end of the academic year. Once the editing is done, the book can move to typesetting, final review and publishing. From there it can start to reach English-speaking Christians and readers across the world. “As someone who wants to be a writer, this book demonstrates how language can bring people to God and to demonstrate his attributes and love,” Burden says. “It is such a gift that we have this ability to communicate in this way and that there’s so many ideas connected to language.” 

Pictured above from right to left: Anne Shearer `24 (English), Libby Trudeau ’24 (English & Linguistics), Kellyn Burden `24 (English), and Dr. Guillermo Mac Kenzie