He was speaking in Polish!

How Harald Bredesen, pastor of a Reformed Church, was baptized with the Holy Spirit



Harald Bredesen is an ordained minister, pastor of the First Reformed Church, Mount Vernon, New York. He is about my age, then in his late thirties. He had a clerical collar, a bald spot and an excitement that was contagious. Bredesen and I had lunch together in a restaurant near my office, and there, in a setting of coffee cups and sugar shakers, he told me a story that seemed to come from a different world.

A few years earlier, Harald Bredesen, although he’d been busily involved in the work of his church, had also been a dissatisfied young man. It seemed to him that his religious life had no vitality to it, especially when he compared his experiences with those of the earliest Christians.

‘There was an excitement, a stirring of life in the young Church’, Bredesen said. ‘The Church today, by and large, has lost this. You’ve felt I’m sure. Where are the changed lives? Where are the healings? Where is the belief that men will die for?’

At home in the evenings Bredesen had begun to read the Biblical accounts of the early churches with these questions in mind and almost instantly he fell upon a clue. The more he read, the more he became convinced that first-century Christians received their vitality from the Holy Spirit, and more especially from an experience called, in the New Testament, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Bredesen determined that he was going to have this experience for himself, and he went about it by taking a vacation. He headed for the Allegheny Mountains, ensconced himself in a mountain cabin and there began to pray around the clock. He made up his mind to stay in that cabin until he reached a new level of communication with God. Day after day he kept up his prayer vigil.

At last one morning while he was standing outside the cabin praying aloud, a stillness seemed to settle over the hills. Every fiber of Bredesen’s body tensed, as if his whole being were entering into a new plane of awareness. He stopped speaking for a moment. And when he began again, out of his mouth came, and here are his words as I wrote them down that day: ‘…. The most beautiful outpouring of vowels and consonants and also some strange, guttural syllables. I could not recognize any of it. It was as though I was listening to a foreign language, except that it was coming out of my own mouth’.

Amazed, curious, and a bit frightened, Bredesen ran down the mountain, still talking aloud in this tongue. He came to the edge of a small community. On the stoop of a cabin sat an old man. Bredesen continued to speak in the tongue which was coming so easily and naturally from his lips. The man answered, talking rapidly in a language which Bredesen did not know. When it became obvious that they were not communicating, the old man spoke in English. ‘How can you speak Polish but not understand it?’ the man asked.

‘I was speaking in Polish?’

The man laughed, thinking that Bredesen was joking. ‘Of course it was Polish’, he said.

But Bredesen wasn’t joking. As far as he could recall he had never before heard the language.


From: John L. Sherrill, They speak with other tongues, published by Fleming H. Revell Company, printed in USA, Seventh printing, December 1968, pages 18-19