She spoke of Christ in Japanese



In 1913, when I was shepherding a little assembly of God's children in Lytham, Lancs., we held weekly open-air meetings on the promenade which runs along the sea front. One evening during the service a little old woman, very uneducated and extremely shy and retiring, suddenly broke out in peculiar staccato utterance in an unknown tongue. Normally one would expect the crowd to laugh and mock, but instead they seemed awed. When she had finished, to my surprise I was given the interpretation, which I spoke our for all to hear. This obviously moved the crowd. One man who had been a flourishing tailor in the town, but had lost everything through drink, shouted out in agony of soul (he was perfectly sober at the time), and coming into the ring of listeners he fell on his knees and cried to God for salvation.

There was a Japanese man in the crowd, and he went straight back to his landlady and asked: ‘Who are those people who preach near the lifeboat house?’ She replied that we were a group of religious fanatics who tried to convert everybody to our belief.

The Japanese engineer declared: ‘They may be what you state, but a woman among them spoke of Christ and His dying for us on a tree, in the best Japanese, while a man gave the exact equivalent in English’.

Neither Mrs. Whitehead, who spoke, nor I, who interpreted had had any contact with Japan, nor knew a word of Japanese. Moreover apparently the Japanese spoken was not that of a foreigner, but perfect, and the interpretation correct. I remember that while she was speaking I thought: ‘Can that be a real language?’ and I was not expecting to get the interpretation. It came to me absolutely spontaneously. Now here was a case of both tongues and interpretation recognised, and the result – a precious soul eternally saved.


W. F. P. Burton


From: W. F. P. Burton, Signs following, page 33-34