The gospel of Jesus in the “language of honor and shame”

Here is a project I have been working on for the past six months … designing, listening, writing, modifying, seeking more advice, rewriting, redesigning … you get the picture. What a learning journey! (Be sure to scroll down—it’s all there!)

Please Note: This post was updated on July 30, 2012 to reflect modifications made to the gospel tract/booklet. The primary change was in the title. The initial title was “Two Lost Sons”; this has been changed to “The Father’s Love”, as this is the main point of the story. Other changes have also been made to reflect this emphasis on the love of the Father. –wm

It’s a pocket-size booklet that tells the Good News of Jesus Christ through what is commonly known as “The Story of the Prodigal Son.” (Did you know that this story has been often called “the Gospel inside of the Gospel”?)

This is currently being circulated for final comments and suggestions. I want to know what you think, too.

It’s been beautiful to be part of a team of followers of Jesus from around the world working together on this project. We’re still awaiting final versions of three illustrations. I am excited about the potential for this to bless many people. I am hoping it will be translated into many languages.

  • Developed in a team approach—incorporates ideas from people from America, the Middle East, and Central Asia
  • Contains The Story of The Prodigal Son—Luke 15:11–32
  • 20 pages, fits into a shirt pocket
  • Will also be available in PDF for iPad and Smartphones
  • Designed for interaction and easy conversation
  • Explains the Gospel of Jesus in the language of honor and shame
  • Lovingly designed for people from societies whose pivotal cultural value is honor and shame—to understand the basic message of Jesus Christ
  • Will be made available for translation into various languages.

What do you think?

Page 1 (front cover)
Page 2
honor and shame p3
Page 3
honor and shame p4
Page 4
honor and shame Prodigal Son p5
Page 5
honor and shame Prodigal Son p6
Page 6
honor and shame Prodigal Son p7
Page 7
honor and shame Prodigal Son p8
Page 8
Page 9
honor and shame Prodigal Son p10
Page 10
Page 11
honor and shame Prodigal Son p12
Page 12
honor and shame Prodigal Son p13
Page 13
honor and shame Prodigal Son
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20 (back cover)

4 thoughts on “The gospel of Jesus in the “language of honor and shame”

  1. seanb Reply

    I really like the concept of this tract. I wish I could come up with something with a very similar concept because it’s important, and I honor you for working on it.

    However, my experience of 15 years with Honor & Shame cultures has been cross-cultural and most often with people from an English as a Second Language background, and I really feel that the majority of the wording used in this tract would be far above their English language level – and that religious words used could so easily be misunderstood where people are from a different religious background.

    Difficult words in my opinion based upon my experience include ‘squandered’; ‘severe famine’, ‘be fed with the pods’, ‘perish here with hunger’, ‘arose’, ‘compassion’, ’embraced’, ‘worthy’, ‘fattened calf’, ‘entreated’, ‘devoured’, ‘all that is mine is yours’, ‘reckless’/’reckless actions’, ‘despising’, ‘humility and sorrow’/’humble’, ‘self-righteous and arrogant’, ‘humbled’, ‘accused’, ‘conquered’, ‘humanity’, ‘bore (our sins)’

    Easily misunderstood religious words include ‘sinned against heaven and before you’, ‘Sinner’/’Sinless’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘repents’/’repentance’, ‘righteous’, ‘blessed’, ‘holy’, ‘glory’, ‘bore our sins’, ‘die to sin’, ‘live to righteousness’, ‘by his wounds you have been healed’, and most of page 19-20.

    I love the phrase ‘Do you want to join with others in the honor of following Jesus’ – what a great way of putting it!

    I understand why you might have used some of these words, but wanted to express what my experience has shown to see how you feel about that.

    1. Werner Mischke Reply

      Thank you for your comment. It is true that for people who speak English as a second language, this tract (or booklet) may present some challenges. I will review it for ways to simplify the language. The booklet has been circulated among a number of leaders who are serving among various Asian peoples, and I have already incorporated a number of their suggestions. So I welcome your suggestions as well. If you have specific suggestions for changes in words or phrases, you may write me at my email address,

      Three additional points:

      1) The booklet is intended to be translated into other languages. We intend, first of all, to have it translated into Arabic. Perhaps it will be possible to more easily communicate the more difficult words and concepts if people are reading this in their own heart language.

      2) Some of the words you criticize as being too difficult are part of the Scripture translation. Would you recommend another English translation? If the tract were to be translated into the heart language I would think this problem would take care of itself.

      3) We want to communicate enough information in the booklet for a reader to grasp the essential message of the Gospel by himself of herself. But another purpose of the booklet is this: To make it easy for believer and seeker to have a conversation. This is why there are questions underneath most of the drawings. Likewise, the vertical questions on the right hand side of the page “anticipate” what is to happen next in the story, thus employing the imagination of those engaged in the conversation. In this way, the booklet may be seen as a tool for telling a brilliant story, asking questions, sharing a bit of one’s heart –– toward building a relationship.

      1. seanb

        Hi Werner,
        Hats off to you for taking the effort and for hearing feedback. I wish I had more time to work with you, but here’s one thought.
        Check out This was made by Wycliffe Bible Translators for ESL people – it’s not a translation of the Bible but an attempt to put scripture into simple English. It’s pretty good I think, as every book of the Bible has been looked at and worked into a 1200 word vocab (see for other books of the Bible).
        It is, of course, impossible to find one translation that everyone everywhere sees as ‘correct’ and also helpful…

        Otherwise, the best test is to put it in front of people to see if it makes sense to them, regular feedback and then change is vital. In regards to it being translated into other languages, of course that’s vital: but I think if you don’t start with understandable words then the translators won’t think to use equally understandable language in their own translation.

        BTW, I do like the questions/phrases on the side – a very novel way of things, it will be interesting to see if it helps people to have conversations, I certainly hope it does.

  2. Werner Mischke Reply

    Thanks so much for your insights and suggestions. What you are saying makes sense. I have looked at the EasyEnglish version as you suggested, and have written to — to see if we can have permission to use their translation. This does not mean I will use it, but I can review this option with my team and also maybe get additional insights and suggestions from the good people at EasyEnglish. Again … thank you!

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