This is that! (Acts 2,16)
the years our knowledge of the biblical manifestations of "unknown"
tongues was expanded and refined...
Languages spoken by the Holy Ghost, through Spirit-filled people, have been understood so many times that it is no longer of any note amongst us. We have had ample proof over an extended period of time that the trouble with "doubting Thomases" is not with the ability, nor with the accomplishments of God's Spirit, but with our own predilections or preconceived ideas.
Mainly, I have spoken only in one language through the Spirit, but in that language I was understood by Armenians in Austin, Texas, who said I spoke fluently in their native tongue.
A Baptist minister, a friend of mine, understood the superintendent of one of our Sunday Schools, who spoke in purest Greek, while testifying in one of our services. It was explained to the minister that this man was speaking solely by the unction and inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
It could be said of some: "Among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42, 43). What a loss! What an irreparable loss has been theirs, when all these years they might have been watching God gloriously at work in His hospital, in His repair shop, in His spiritual filling station, as I was privileged to do. But, they will never realize what they have missed until eternity dawns.
Once, when Brother E. N. Bell was preaching in Southeastern Missouri, he preached awhile in tongues, "as the Spirit gave him utterance." After the service, some Russian coal miners from the Ural Mountains, who were working in nearby coal mines, waited for him outside the tent and tried to talk with him in their native tongue in which he had been speaking. They could scarcely speak English, so were pitiably disappointed when he could not converse with them in their own Russian dialect. Brother Bell tried to explain in English, but with little success. It seemed they weren't interested in God's message to them, but only in visiting with someone who could speak their mother tongue.
Many missionaries have had the experience of hearing their adopted tongue spoken by baptized persons, while on furlough in this country. But, sometimes the opposite occurs.
Pandita Ramabai, who was associated with the great school in Lucknow, India, that cared for as many as two thousand child-widows, reported the following happening at the time that country was invaded by the Baptism of the Holy Ghost: "Many of the believers, upon receiving the Holy Ghost, spoke messages in distinct English. For the most part, they praised and glorified God, saying 'He's coming soon.' "
In his book entitled Vision Beyond the Veil, H. A. Baker, missionary to China, tells how many little heathen orphan boys in his school, when under the anointing of the Spirit, spoke in perfect English, a language with which they were entirely unacquainted. Some of them scripturally described heaven in English, although they had never heard nor read an account of it at any time, neither had they been indoctrinated. They had been told only to surrender completely to God.
My daughter, while praying in tongues in Visalia, California, was understood by Brother George Kelly, a missionary then in America on furlough. He said she was speaking in flawless Chinese.
At another time, while in a service in Oakland, California, the power of God was falling like rain upon the congregation. My wife spoke briefly in tongues during a public prayer. A woman near her, also anointed of the Spirit, answered her in tongues. For several minutes they carried on a conversation, their eyes closed, lost in the Spirit. Rising from prayer, Ruth Bernstein-Redmond, the daughter of missionary parents, who herself was born and reared in China, told us that they had been discussing "How wonderful Jesus is" in perfect Chinese.
My wife has been understood many times, as she spoke in fluent Chinese. She is not confined to this language, however, as God has blessed her to speak in tongues in many, many languages.
Once, while sitting beside a window, late in the evening, she heard two men pass on the sidewalk below, conversing in a language she recognized as the one with which she most frequently spoke as moved upon by the Holy Ghost. She sensed that these men were not speaking by the power of the Spirit. Earlier, I had passed these two men on the street, and recognized them to be American Indians, speaking their tribal language.
The "gift" of tongues, however, is rare among us. I have been told that years ago Carrie Judd-Montgomery of California, the editor of "Triumphs of Faith," in doing personal work, often stopped recent immigrants on the street, and at the Spirit's bidding would begin witnessing to them in their native tongue. Although she would often have no idea of what country they had emigrated from, she never failed to speak to them in their native dialect. As the Spirit moved through her, she would carry on a complete conversation, including answering any questions the other party might have. She did this, never knowing herself, what had been said.
In his book, With Signs Following, Stanley H. Frodshaw relates the story of many fully-authenticated miracles, signs, and wonders which took place up to 1926. Many of those mentioned were instances of foreign languages being spoken as the Holy Ghost moved upon believers. One, a Marathi-speaking school teacher of the Mukti Kedgaon Association, spoke in the Guzerathi language upon receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Although the teacher had never been acquainted with the language before, he was afterwards able to understand, speak, read, and write it at will. '
Irene Piper, only ten years old, could converse with the Chinese and invite them (in Chinese) to her church to accept salvation, all by the power of God alone. One man, May Lee, declared that "Irene's accent was perfect; her forms of speech so exact that ten years' study would not have given the average Occidental such knowledge of the language."
An American missionary, Lillian Keys, of Peking, China, while employing a Chinese carpenter, understood the questions he asked her about the work he was planning to do. She knew no Chinese, he no English, yet she understood all he said to her as easily as if he had been speaking in English. She answered in tongues, which turned out to be Chinese. So, they understood each other, the carpentry work was completed, and the Lord was glorified.
Another person similarly used was Mable Smith-Hall, one of our early successful pioneer evangelists. Her father, a practicing physician, lived in Galveston, Texas, where ships from all over the world docked. When the group of Pentecostal workers would go to the street service each evening, the crowd which gathered was sure to include some of these visiting sailors. While Mable was preaching, her language would suddenly change from English into tongues. Sometimes she would preach almost her entire sermon in one foreign language. At other times she would use perhaps as many as three or four. Always there was someone in the audience who understood what she was saying, and after the service would want to talk with her in his native tongue. But, as far as I ever knew, she couldn't carry on a conversation with them as Mrs. Montgomery often did.