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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Accent (02/21/13)

TITLE: Simplicity
By Claudia Thomason
02/26/13
~8th Place


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“You can do it!” my teammates shouted. “We know you can do it!” In my haste to make them proud of my puny efforts, I took a wild swing at the projectile hurling toward me. They were right! My stick connected, and the ragged ball went flying. Unfortunately, that was the extent of my knowledge of this child’s game. Consequently, I just stood there. Excited African children began shouting at me to do something, but I couldn’t understand what they were telling me to do.

Their voices, mixed with wild hand gestures, seemed to indicate I was to run somewhere. Because their arms were swinging in all directions, it was difficult to determine where to run. This was neither baseball nor soccer. This was a made-up game played by children at the African school we were visiting that day.

“Kimbia, kimbia!” children shouted in Swahili. “Taharuki!” “Run, run!” they were saying. “Hurry!” It didn’t matter how excited they were to have me run, listening to them gave me no hint of what direction to go.

These children also knew (and were shouting) English, but it was what I called “high English” or the “Queen’s English.” Their accents were very difficult for me to understand. Even when speaking with my adult African friends in a quiet room one-on-one, I strained to understand them. Many times I had to settle for extracting a word here and a word there, mentally stringing together the logical meaning from what I heard. It was indeed English but with accents on syllables that didn’t match words I recognized.

Oddly, they laughingly told me, “You are the one with the accent. Speak slowly so we can understand, please.” This beautiful language is what added to the Africans’ overall gentility and grace. However, gentility and grace were not what I needed at that point in the game. I needed someone to shout out “go this way” so I could understand and respond.

As I thought about this event later, I realized I am often like those children shouting directions in a language that can’t be understood. How many times have I gotten excited about sharing God’s love with non-Christians who couldn’t grasp the words I was using? How many times have they looked at me questioningly as I pontificated in lofty language, using words not even remotely recognizable to them? In my zeal to share God’s love, were my words accentuated with unnecessary fluff, or perhaps were they a bit stuffy? No wonder some of them haven’t brought up the subject with me again. The thought that I may have done more harm than good saddened me.

“Forgive me, Lord, for trying to elevate your message through impressive speech.” I prayed. “Your message already resides at the pinnacle of perfection. How could I think polishing up the words explaining the Good News would improve the story?” I cringed at the thought of what I had been doing to my friends, who simply needed to hear a clear, understandable message. “Bring my thoughts back to earth where I use a language easily grasped by those needing to hear about you, without flowery accents on an already-perfect story.” Since that time, when I answer questions about my faith or how I am sure God actually knows someone’s name, I try to use simple words conveying clear thoughts.

On the field that day, I finally heard, “Annie, run toward the child in the right part of the field!” There it was—clear direction in a language I understood. Responding to the voice speaking words I recognized was easy. Unfortunately, it was too late, and I may have lost the game for my team. The children roared with laughter as I tripped over the child in right field, and we both landed on the ground laughing. I still don’t know the name of that game nor do I know how to play it. However, I learned a lesson from the children that day. It is a message about simplicity. Since then, I carry it with me on every playing field where God sends me.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Camille (C D) Swanson 03/02/13
What a wonderful read. This held my attention while providing a valuable an worthwhile message.

God bless~
Jack Taylor 03/04/13
Having lived in Africa for 18 years I can picture this game played out. I can hear the laughter, see the animated gestures, and hear the voices. I'm glad you've stopped to apply the lessons learned.
Cheryl Harrison 03/04/13
Several years ago, I was part of a mission team that went to West Africa. I was most impressed with the children. They were very curious about me, but quickly included me into their group. I found that once they understood the Gospel, they worshiped the Lord with such honesty. Your article reminded me of the sweet lessons I learned while I was there. Thanks for writing.
Virgil Youngblood 03/05/13
Ahhh -- children's laughter, the music of heaven my mother used to say. Thanks for such a delightful look into another culture and a meaningful devotional.
Judith Gayle Smith03/06/13
Simply terrific! The entire story and the correlation to soul winning - I love this. Thank you for reinforcing and reminding me of my need for simplicity . . .
Judith Gayle Smith03/07/13
Thank you for glorifying God with your true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy winning entry! God bless you.

Love and verbal hugs, Judi

KJV Revelation 14:12 "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus."
Cheryl Harrison 03/08/13
I knew this one was a winner! Congratulations!
Camille (C D) Swanson 03/08/13
Congratulations! God bless~
Bea Edwards 03/08/13
Splendid and memorable message woven throughout your lovely tale!
Noel Mitaxa 03/08/13
Thank you for crafting such a beautiful example of the internatinal languages of laughter and respect have no preferred accents. You have infused this with a gentle self-rebuke that can only lift your readers instead of playing the guilt card. Congratulations on your placing.