Christianity Today’s commitment to serving the global church drove the ministry to make its content accessible in over 12 languages. With the help of incredible volunteer translators around the globe, CT has over 820 unique translations into languages such as Spanish, Chinese, and more since 2020.
As part of CT’s effort to make COVID-related news coverage accessible to a global audience, a team of Spanish translators was formed during the pandemic last year. Since then, the translation team has published over 160 articles into Spanish. The Spanish translation of 20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic has been CT’s most-read article in 2021 with over 800,000 readers, even outranking the original English version. The translation efforts have garnered an overwhelming support and response from the readers.
However, the remarkable task of translating over 160 articles into Spanish was only possible with the dedication of a committed team of translators and editors. The team's lead translator and editor, Giselle Seidel, is originally from Mexico City and currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband. Giselle recently shared how the Spanish translation projects came to be, what goes on behind the scenes of translating each article, and the impact that these articles have made on the Spanish-speaking audience.
How did you first get involved in translating CT’s articles into Spanish?
In 2019, the Lord prompted me to pray for a way to use my gifts and serve his Kingdom. A year later, I came across CT's testimony section, which featured Sy Garte’s story about his conversion from atheism. It was such an inspiring story that I translated it into Spanish to share it with my family in Mexico.
As a longtime CT reader, I always regretted that the articles I loved and treasured were not accessible to all of my Spanish-speaking friends and family back home. I had already been doing translation work and volunteering with other ministries, so I decided to reach out to CT by writing an email to the first contact I could find on the website. It wasn’t long until I received a response from Jeremy Weber, CT’s Global Director, who told me that my email came at the perfect time as they were looking to ramp up their efforts to translate their COVID-related news coverage. I am still awestruck and humbled at the way God orchestrated everything to where I could be a part of this amazing ministry.
It became clear to me at that moment that this was God answering my prayers. I knew God could use my skills to translate more CT articles into Spanish and allow more people to have access to the ministry’s inspirational content.
How many translators are part of the Spanish team?
Currently, there are three of us that are officially involved in CT’s Spanish translation team. Sofía Castillo, who lives in Argentina, does a fantastic job as a translator, social media manager, project coordinator, and editor-in-training. Noa Alarcón from Spain is also a talented and experienced translator. Then there’s myself. I serve as the lead translator, coordinator, and editor. In addition, we have Daniel Arroyo, a volunteer from Texas who manages Instagram and hosts Facebook Live events. There are also a dozen other floating volunteers based out of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, and various cities across the US.
How much time and effort goes into translating and publishing an article into Spanish?
Providing readers with the highest quality translation is our team’s top priority. We start off by reading a lot of different CT articles to find content that is most relevant to our Spanish-speaking audience. The length and time put into each article can vary, but the average process takes four to five hours of focused translation, followed by three hours of research and editing, and then another hour or two of uploading, coordinating web design, and editing once the article is online. In 2021, we were able to consistently publish 10 to 12 articles per month.
How does the team decide which articles should be translated?
Typically, each translator sends me a list of articles that were especially meaningful to them. From there, we decide which articles to translate based on their relevancy and how impactful the story will be for our Spanish audience. Translating news articles is often prioritized, but survey responses from our readers indicated that many people are looking for theological content, so we try our best to strike a balance between the two.
What is something that has been particularly challenging when it comes to translating articles for CT?
The most challenging part of this job is making sure that the language is universal for all of our Spanish-speaking readers. The Spanish language is spoken by almost 600 million people in over 20 different countries across the world. There are such vast differences in the language that, for example, a Spanish speaker from one region of Spain would have trouble conversing with a Chilean speaker. This reality makes it challenging to ensure that our translations and writings can be easily understood by everyone.
Which translated article(s) left the biggest impact on you?
There are so many of them! But one that made an especially big impact on me was the interview with Luis Palau called “To Keep Dreaming”, which was originally published in 2014. This is because evangelism has always been very close to my heart since I became a believer as a teenager.
In general, each article we translate speaks to me in a different way and I learn something new from translation every day. The beauty of my job as a translator and editor is that I’m not simply reading CT’s articles anymore. I need to chew on each phrase of the article I am translating so that the same message can be conveyed in a different language to readers from various cultures. This allows me to appreciate the richness of the article so much more. I feel extremely blessed to do this work.
What kind of impact do you think the translated articles are making?
I believe that our work makes an impact on two distinct audiences. On one side, the articles are largely read by people that are already believers, so translating CT’s biblically-grounded articles ultimately serves the Spanish-speaking church. It helps believers grow in their faith and equip them with an informed biblical perspective about the events that are happening around the world.
On the other hand, certain translated articles get discovered by non-believers searching for answers online. For example, our team couldn’t believe that CT’s most read article in 2021 was our translation of 20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic. Many people stumbled across this article as they were searching online for prayers during the pandemic. Our readers probably came from all different walks of life and who knows how many people heard the truth of the gospel for the very first time!
What’s ahead for you and the team as you transition out of this role as lead translator?
I started serving at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in their recently launched Hispanic Initiative and with my new responsibilities our team’s organization has changed. However, my relationship with CT has always been versatile, so I still plan to help for as long as I am needed. Sofia Castillo has been learning the ins-and-outs of the editorial work I have been doing and I have no doubt that she will do a fantastic job. Sofia joined our team at the perfect time. Her work and passion for the Lord will continue to drive our Spanish translation efforts.
What’s something God has taught you through translation work?
I have learned that, when we want to serve God and do his work, we can ask for anything in his name and He will provide (John 14:12-14). No matter where we are in life or how unlikely it may seem, God can use us for his glory. God used my gifts to influence people when it didn’t seem possible to me. This served as a reminder to me that nothing is impossible for Him.
Grace Brannon is senior marketing associate at Christianity Today.