Not Lost in Translation

You may remember the story of President John F. Kennedy's famous 1963 speech in Berlin, when he uttered the words, "Ich bin ein Berliner," to a thunderous reaction.

Many Americans still are not aware that his pronunciation of that now-famous phrase had an unintended meaning, since the German word, "Berliner," refers to a jelly doughnut.

President Kennedy's words provided the background for another thunderous reaction at the recent "Jesus Im Fokus" conference in Herborn, Germany, where I was the speaker and my new friend, Friedrich Trops, was the translator (that's him on the left in the photo below).

Speaking on 1 Kings 19, and referring to Elijah's episode under the broomtree, when he was revived by food and drink, I emphasized to my listeners the importance of self-care in ministry, and how eating right is important. Then, mentioning that in America we have an expression, "You are what you eat," I said, "If that is true, then I am a big fat cinnamon roll."

Frieder, seizing the opportunity, played with my words a little bit for the bigger laugh, and said, to great effect, "Ich bin ein Berliner," which of course, surprised me as I heard it, and delighted the audience.

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