Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)
TITLE: When North Meets South
By Brian Passe
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My job transferred from Iowa to Alabama in 2002. Moving had become a normal part of our lives so it was no big deal to settle into a new area. We had three places we needed find in Alabama - a house, a church and a hairdresser for my wife. The easiest were a house and a church, my wife is still looking for a hairdresser.
Once we knew where our new house was located, we began to search for a new church. Being Baptists, we had a large selection and we visited churches on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. After a few weeks we found our church: Lindsay Lane Baptist Church, in Athens, Alabama. We fell in love with our pastor, the warm welcomes, ministry opportunities and Sunday School classes. Everything looked great as we settled into our new home and community. It was so until ‘that Sunday morning.’ That Sunday morning is now part of our family folklore. It reminded us that we weren’t quite as settled as we thought we were.
It was a beautiful warm Sunday morning. The magnolia trees had blossomed with a hint of citrus in the air. Dogwood trees colored the lawns and songbirds filled the air with a chorus of music. It was another great day to be in Alabama. We attended Sunday School and then prepared for the message in the sanctuary. Greeting friends and strangers we joined our daughter in the pew. Our daughter was 21 then and she had not yet purchased her new hearing aid. That wasn’t a problem because our pastor always spoke clearly and she had no problem listening to him.
That Sunday morning we had a guest speaker because our pastor was attending an out-of-state conference. His replacement was a fellow named Brent. He was a church member who often filled in at churches looking for a new pastor. We had never heard him preach so we were looking forward to his message. That is, until he started to preach. At first I thought it was me. Then I looked at our daughter and she was digging in her ear. My wife sat politely in the pew with an odd look on her face. The message must have been profound because there were several ‘Amens’ throughout the sermon.
At the end of the service, we greeted more friends as we walked to our car. I don’t remember who spoke first, but one of us said ‘I think I need my hearing checked.’ All three of us had just sat through a forty-five minute message and had not understood a single word. I mean - not a single word. Brent’s southern accent had collided with our northern ears. His message was not only a foreign language, it could have been given in Pentecostal church. The three of us laughed about not understanding a word. We agreed, however, that we needed to avoid any service that Brent was scheduled to preach.
Several months passed. Then one Sunday morning, to our surprise, Brent was preaching the message. We did not know our pastor would be absent, and we were already in the pew when we realized who was preaching. We thought it would be rude to leave church, so we settled in for an hour of indecipherable words. Much to our surprise, we understood every word he said. His message was a powerful witness for Jesus Christ. It was amazing! We were so grateful that he had learned to speak Minnesotan. What a wonderful church we had joined.
We love our church and Alabama. This story will always be a family favorite. It made us realize that the best way to learn a foreign language is to be immersed in it. I wonder when Rosetta Stone will introduce the Southern Language series.
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