Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Modern xenoglossy

I'm going to quote a passage from a book by a noted missionary:

Now Motilones wanted to tell Yukos about Jesus. At that time they didn't understand that there were languages other than the Motilone language. They thought that the Yukos spoke just as they did. But the languages are totally different. I couldn't see how they would manage to communicate anything about Jesus.

But I wasn't going to try to restrain them. I suggested that they go to the lowland tribes, who hadn't heard about Jesus. A few days later they left. I prayed that it wouldn't be a shattering experience for them, that God would comfort them in any disappointment at being able to communicate.

They were gone for several weeks. When they got back I went to see Arabadoyca, curious about what had happened.

"How did it go?" I asked.

He was making arrows, and he looked up at me with his familiar crooked grin. "Wonderful," he said. "They had not known about Jesus before."

"And did they understand?" 

"Oh, yes, we told them a great many things about Jesus."

"You spoke to them?" 

Of course!" Arabadoyca was a little concerned about my surprise. "How would you have told them?"

"Oh…in the way way. But how do you know they understood?"

Again he looked perplexed. "Why, they told us that the did. They were very excited to hear the news, Bruchko."

"You mean you opened your mouth and spoke to the Yukos, and they understood you and talked to you, and you understood them?"

"Yes, of course."

The Yuko language is not a dialect of the Motilone language. It is a totally different language. You could never understand one from knowing the other. Yet I am sure that Arabadoyca and the others were not lying. Lying was almost unknown among the Motilones. And they had no reason to lie. There is also the fact that there now are Christians in the Yuko lowland where there were none before.

I can only conclude that God's Holy Spirit made the Motilones speak and understand Yuko. It was a miracle to me. But to the Motilones everything God does is a miracle.

Bruce Olson, Bruchko (Charisma House, updated ed., 1977), 140-42.

For more on the author's background:


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  2. I can understand why many Reformed folk may dismiss John L. Sherrill's book "They Speak With Other Tongues" since it's not as well documented as it could be. Most of the testimonies recorded there are only anecdotal. However, I still find one of the testimonies intriguing after these many years since I read the book. Fortunately, I found a copy of the passage at a website HERE.

    1. Quote:
      But the most amazing story in my collection concerned a group of people who recognized their own language not on foreign soil but at home; the speaker in this case was the foreigner. It was an adventure which took place in the heart of Africa in the year 1922.

      In that year, the Reverend H. B. Garlock and his wife, of Toms River, New Jersey, volunteered for a dangerous assignment: they were to go to Africa as missionaries to the Pahns, a small tribe in the interior of Liberia. No missionaries had ever before worked with the Pahns. The reason was simple. The Pahns were cannibals.

      The Garlocks arrived in Liberia and set up camp with a group of African Christians whose tribal boundary touched that of the Pahns. Almost immediately Mrs. Garlock came down with malaria. Their meager medical chest was soon emptied and still her fever rose. Garlock had a difficult time persuading the natives to take a short route to the coast for more medicine because the way led through Pahn country.

      At last, however, Garlock convinced the chief that it was possible to skirt the danger areas, and that if medicine didn’t arrive soon, Mrs. Garlock might well die. One morning at dawn a group of men left the compound and headed out, filled with misgivings, to bring back supplies.

      About noon the head carrier suddenly appeared in the doorway of the mud hut where Mrs. Garlock lay. He was out of breath. In gasps he blurted out what had happened. One of his men had been captured by the cannibals. The African assured the two missionaries that unless the man could be rescued, he would be eaten.

      Garlock realized that it was his fault. Providentially, his wife’s fever had begun to go down that very morning, within an hour after the supply party had left. Without hesitation Garlock himself set out into Pahn territory, taking along a few hand-picked warriors: he was going to try to get the man out.

      Just before dark, the little group arrived at the village where the carrier was being held. A wooden fence ran around the cluster of huts, but no one stood guard. Garlock peeked cautiously through and saw that one of the huts had sentries posted before it. Two men carrying spears squatted outside in the dust. Their hair was braided in long pigtails; their front teeth were filed to a point.

      That would be the prison, Garlock decided. He turned to his men. ‘I’m going in,’ he whispered. ‘If there’s trouble make as much noise as you can. I’ll try to get away in the confusion’.

      Garlock was counting on two facts to help him. One was the probability that the Pahns had never seen a white man: he hoped that this would give him the advantage of surprise. The other was that he believed the miracle stories of the Bible, telling of supernatural help coming when it was needed most. Garlock was praying as he stepped into the cannibals’ compound. He was praying that God would show him step by step what he should do.

      Walking as straight and as tall as he could, he strode directly toward the prison hut. The guards were too astonished to stop him. He walked between them and ducked inside the hut. Outside, he heard the guard begin to shout: he heard feet slap against the packed earth as others ran to join them. In the dark interior Garlock crawled forward until his hands touched a figure tied to the center pole of the hut.

      Garlock slipped a knife out of his pocket and cut the bonds. The carrier spoke to him. But seemed incapable of making any effort in his own behalf. Garlock dragged the terrified man out through the door. But that’s as far as he got. There in the courtyard was a yelling, threatening crowd of Africans armed with knives, spears and hatchets.

      Garlock listened for his own men to start a distraction. But outside the compound all was silence. Garlock knew that he had been abandoned.

      continued in next post.

    2. There was nothing for it except to try a bluff. With great deliberation he settled the prisoner up against the hut, and then he himself sat down on the skull of an elephant that stood beside the door. All the while he was praying. The crowd kept its distance, still yelling and milling, but not coming close.

      A full moon rose. Garlock sat quietly on his elephant’s skull. Finally the people squatted down in a great semicircle facing the hut. In the center of this ring, Garlock thought he spotted the chief and beside him the village witch doctor.

      Suddenly this man stood up. He ran a few steps toward Garlock, then stopped. He held out a reed wand, shook it at Garlock, then started to stalk back and forth between the missionary and the chief, talking loudly and gesturing occasionally toward the prisoner. Garlock could not understand a word he said, but it was clear to him that he was on trial.

      The witch doctor harangued Garlock for an hour, and then quite abruptly he stopped. He came, for the first time, directly up to Garlock and peered into his face. The witch doctor thrust his neck forward, then drew it back amid the cheers of the onlookers. Then, with great ostentation, he laid the wand on the ground at Garlock’s feet. He stepped back, waiting.

      Silence fell over the tribe. Garlock gathered that it was now time for him to speak in his own defense.

      But how! Garlock did not know one word of the Pahn language. The crowd began to grow restless. Stalling for time Garlock stood up and picked up the wand. Instantly the natives fell silent. And while they waited, Garlock prayed.

      ‘Lord, show me what to do. Send your Spirit to help me’.

      Suddenly Garlock began to shake violently. This frightened him as he did not want the others to see that he was afraid. But with the trembling came a sense of the nearness of the Holy Spirit. Words of Jesus came to him: ‘Take no thought what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate; but whatsoever shall be given to you in that hour, that speak ye; for it is not ye that speak but the Holy Ghost” (Mark 13:11).

      Garlock felt a strange boldness. He took a deep breath and began to speak. From his lips came a flow of words which he did not understand.

      Garlock saw the natives lean forward, enthralled. He saw that the words – whatever they were – had a stirring effect on those who listened. He knew beyond a doubt that he was speaking to the Pahns in their own language.

      For twenty minutes Garlock talked to the Pahns. Then, as suddenly as the speech-power came, it vanished, and Garlock knew that he had come to the end of his discourse. He sat down.

      There was a moment of waiting while the chief and the witch doctor put their heads together. Then, straightening, the witch doctor gave an order and a white rooster was brought forward. With a snap, the witch doctor wrung the rooster’s neck. He sprinkled some of the blood on the foreheads of Garlock and the prisoner. Later Garlock interpreted this as meaning that the rooster had taken his place: blood had to be shed, but something ha had said while speaking in the Spirit had convinced these people that he and the prisoner should go free.

      A few minutes later, Garlock and the captured man were walking through the jungle back toward the mission station. The chief had even supplied two of his own men to guide them the first part of the journey. In time, the Pahns gave up their cannibal life and were converted to Christianity. Garlock is certain that the beginnings of the conversion came with the seed sown while he stood in a flood of moonlight and gave a speech, not one word of which did he understand.
      End Quote

  3. Here's another quote from Sherrill's book. It starts chapter 9. I've removed paragraphing for brevity's sake.
    One of the most delightful people I know is an enormously stout, jovial Jew named Jacob Rabinowitz. Tib and I were having a sandwich with him one day at a rear table in a New York delicatessen when he said quite unexpectedly: "You've heard of an Orthodox Jew? And a Reform Jew?" We nodded. "But have you ever heard of a Completed Jew?" When we said we had not, Jacob told us his own story. He was a rabbi, the son of a rabbi, the grandson of a rabbi and so on back seventeen generations: for hundreds of years the Rabinowitzes had been rabbis of their faith. When Jacob, some years earlier, had begun to be persuaded of the truth of Christianity, he felt like a traitor to this long heritage. "I was about to become a converted Jew," he told us. "How terrible that sounds, like someone who has turned his back on his Jewishness. But I was proud to be a Jew. And today I know there's no conflict. I'm not a converted Jew, I'm a completed Jew, like Peter and like Paul."
    And then Jacob told us about the event that left him feeling that at last he ad been completed. Jacob had been, as he said, a Christian by conviction, but a guilty one—conscious of a deep split within himself. Then one sweltering summer night in July of 1960, he was invited by a friend to visit the First Assembly of God Church in Pasadena, Texas, where a revival was in progress. A little reluctantly, because he was wary of emotionalism, Jacob agreed to go. The service was typically Pentecostal. There were songs and testimonies and hand-clapping and at last a sermon. At the end of his address, the revivalist invited anyone present who had a personal problem to come forward to the altar rail and receive the prayers of the congregation. Suddenly Jacob was seized with a great longing to lay down the burdensome double life he had carried so long, to resolve once and for all the conflict within him. He went forward and knelt with some others at the railing. But when the preacher asked him what his special need was, Jacob remained silent. "That's all right," the revival leader said. "God knows what you needs are better than you know yourself."

    1. And turning to the congregation, he requested prayer "in the Spirit" for Jacob. Several men at once left their seats and came to stand around the kneeling rabbi. Some stood beside, some behind him; a few laid their hands on his head and shoulders, others simply bowed their heads. Then they began to pray, speaking simultaneously, some in English, others in tongues. Suddenly Jacob raised his head and turned to look behind him. His cheeks were flushed and tear-wet. "That was beautiful," he said. "Which one of you is Jewish?" No one answered. "Which one of you knows me? You'll forgive me: I don't recognize you..." Still no answer. Now the whole church became silent. "It came from right here, behind me," said Jacob. "Just exactly where you're standing," he said to one of the men. "Are you Jewish?" "Me?" the man smiled. "My name's John Gruver. I'm Irish." "That's the voice! That's the voice!" said the rabbi, excited now. "But you...you do speak Hebrew?" "Not a word of it," said Gruver. Jacob stood up. "That's where you're wrong," he said. "Because you were speaking in Hebrwe just now..." As Jacob told us the story, his voice filled with emotion. "Can you imagine that great big Irishman behind me speaking the most beautiful Hebrew I ever heard? Can you imagine an Irishman speaking Hebrew at all?" "And how did he know my father's name? No one in Texas knew my family. But here's what he said. 'I have dreamed a dream'—in Hebrew he said it, perfect Hebrew—'I have dreamed a dream that you will go into the big populated places and there you will preach. The ones who have not heard will understand you because you, Jacob, son of Rabbi Ezekiel, come in the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.' " The rabbi looked at us. "What do you make of that!" He took his napkin out o fhis collar and shoved back his chair. "God was speaking to me as a Jew and as a Christian too. There was no difference. In Jesus Christ every difference is swallowed up."