Sharing across the South Pacific: How Passing the Baton is being published in Spanish

Fil, Grahame and Patty Scarratt

Latin America is home to a growing MTS movement, especially in countries like Chile, where their indigenous ministry training organisation Fundacion Generacion is growing every year.

The Chilean team have caught the vision for MTS, but they don’t have the same resources in Spanish that we have easy access to in English.

That’s why, recently, Fundacion Generacion started requesting a Spanish-language translation of the MTS treatise, Passing the Baton: A Handbook to Ministry Apprenticeships by Col Marshall.

They had a translator and needed a publisher, and a distributor – someone who could handle taking this English-language book and getting it ready for the Spanish-speaking market.

So, they turned to Grahame and Patty Scarratt.

Grahame and Patty

Grahame and Patty Scarratt worked in Latin America as missionaries from 1980 to 2003, during which time they set up MOCLAM: Moore College in Latin America, an organisation which facilitates the use of the external courses from Moore Theological College in Spanish.

In 2003 the Scarratts returned to Australia and until 2010, spent three to four months each year travelling throughout the Spanish-speaking world promoting the courses and doing seminars on Biblical Theology. Based in Kiama, on the south coast of New South Wales, they continued to work in conjunction with MOCLAM (Moore College en Latinoamérica), and in the preparation of materials.

In the latter half of 2005, due to their frustration over not being able to get the good books used as texts for the Moore College courses published in Spanish, Grahame and Patty made a big decision: they set up a non-profit publishing company, Libros Gran Panorama (Big Picture Books, LGP), to get high quality Christians books and resources translated and published in Latin America.

Grahame and Patty, along with their son Fil, remain heavily involved in the process of getting books translated and published (and that’s saying something – Grahame is almost 80. As Patty says with a laugh, “the new creation is looking attractive!).

Supported by a charitable organisation based in Australia called Life Change Through Christ Ministries, LGP has translated, published and distributed many books in Spanish, including The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, Guidance and the Voice of God by Phillip Jensen, Nothing in My Hand I Bring by Ray Galea, God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts and One to One Bible Reading by David Helm.

The need for these books

 As Grahame demonstrates with this story, the need for good Christian books in Latin America is so great:

“We went to one church, and met a guy who had studied in the seminary. He came along and he told us, ‘I’ve never heard this before’! And then when we were waiting outside for a taxi he also said, ‘Oh, by the way, I don’t believe in the Trinity’.”

Grahame explains further, “We’ve looked at seminary curriculums and they have Church history, dogmatics, Greek and Hebrew, but no exegesis, no study of how the Bible fits together, no studying separate books.” While there are some exceptions, including the Anglican Bible college the Centre for Pastoral Studies in Santiago, Chile, even amongst “trained” pastors there is a significant lack of understanding of Biblical theology.

The challenges of publishing in Latin America

So the need is there… but that doesn’t mean meeting that need is easy!

It’s quite a process to take an English-language book and turn it into something appropriate for the Latin American market. That process begins with translation.

“We get people who are actually qualified translators to translate,” Grahame explains. “There is a big myth that anyone who is bilingual can translate, but they can’t. It’s a special skill.”

After translation, Grahame, who is bilingual, will read and check that the translator has correctly interpreted the meaning of the English text into Spanish. “Sometimes I’ve had to go back to the author and clarify with them, because the meaning even in English is ambiguous,” Grahame shares.

Once Grahame is satisfied, the book then goes to an editor who speaks Spanish and not English. “That is important, because if they speak English, they will understand a sentence that is structured in an English way, rather than a Spanish way, but if they don’t speak English, they’ll pick up when it doesn’t sound right.”

The final copy then comes back to Grahame and Patty. Patty or Fil will format and typeset the book, before proofreading it four times.

Then comes printing and distribution. Generally the books are printed in local countries, because the cost of shipping from the US, where LGP has maintained a warehouse, has become increasingly prohibitive.

Even making this decision to print in Latin America, as you can imagine, the whole publication process comes at a high cost.

But wages in Latin America tend to be very low and so purchasing Christian books is not a high priority for the average believer. For example, Grahame explains, “In Cuba the average pay is round about $20 a month.” So LGP has to keep the cost of their books low in order to allow people to buy them.

There’s also the challenge that copyright is not widely understood or respected in Latin America. “One person will buy a book and then photocopy it for everybody else,” Patty explains. “They’ll have 40 or 50 photocopiers on every city block! It’s just part of culture.”

Therefore, LGP has had to ensure that their pricing structure means that it costs about the same to buy a copy of one of their books as it would make a copy.

Once they own a copy of a book, Latin American people do tend to value the book highly. They’ll pass it around, reread it, and spread the ideas to their friends. It’s easy to see why properly publishing books rather than relying on photocopies is important.

The cover of the Spanish translation of Passing the Baton

Passing the Baton

While their normal main area of focus is books about Biblical theology, Grahame, Patty and Fil are excited about being a part of getting Passing the Baton published and into the hands of people across Latin America who are already training apprentices, want to be an apprentice, or haven’t even considered the idea yet. They recognise that this is a significant opportunity to create a new way for people to be effectively trained in ministry, which is something Latin America really needs.

The book is close to being finalised – it’s been translated and edited – and is likely to be published later this year.

The book will then be sold through some reliable Christian bookstores, and distributed amongst networks of people interested in ministry apprenticeships, including Fundacion Generacion.

Fil also explains that their plan is to create an online resource linked to the book, so that anyone who picks up the book and then wants to learn more about ministry apprentices can find information relevant to their country, and in their language.

Get involved

MTS in Australia is grateful for the commitment of LCC Ministries to have the book translated and prepared for printing.

Once the book is finished, keep your eyes peeled for a specific appeal from MTS to get it printed and into the hands of as many Spanish-speaking people as possible!

In the meantime, LCC Ministries is a non-profit organisation, which relies on donations to ensure that they can keep their books affordable. If you’d like to support their efforts in publishing good quality Christian books in Spanish, you can visit to give. Even a gift as small as $10 can cover the cost of publishing one book.