Tunde hadn’t been to a church service in months. But this was Christmas, and the special invitation to attend his mother’s Annual Christmas worship service was one he never turned down since his return home after completing his Masters course in a leading university in Japan.
The church service was already in session when he arrived. A middle-aged man was on stage leading prayers and the entire hall was caught up in the spirit of the moment. He recognized the man immediately as the pastor of the church. As a yearly visitor to the church, he knew the face well enough.
In the middle of the uproar, as he picked his way forward up the aisle, he could pick out the voice of a mother praying for her wayward child. Then, there was the young girl pleading with the Lord about her exams. The young man next to the seat he chose wanted a car in the new year. He felt like Superman listening in on the world. Was this how God heard each distinct prayer in a mob?
As he sat and bowed his head to pray, he heard the pastor invite everyone to lift their voices to thank and worship God in tongues for answered prayers. The wave of babble rose like a strong wind howling in the air. Everywhere around him, he heard voices speak what sounded mostly like gibberish.
Then he heard it. This had to be a mistake. Someone had to be in the wrong place. Tunde lifted his head and turned around to find the person. Adjacent him was a man in a dress shirt apparently lost in ecstatic heavenly utterance and in worship. Except that, the words coming out of his mouth were the Latin biological names of plants and animals.
Tunde’s eyes bulged wide open and his jaw dropped in astonishment. And while his head was still wrapping itself around what he was witnessing, the voice of the pastor rent the air over the powerful loudspeakers. Like everyone else, he was caught up in the spirit, worshipping in tongues. Except that Tunde recognized the words that were coming out of his mouth as distinct phrases from the Japanese anthem.