Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Knowing Winks

There is a woman from our village that regularly comes to our women's prayer meetings even though she does not go to our church. She is an upper-class woman with a great sense of style; she has gracious manners and she speaks impeccable French. Of course, she IS French, but even among native French speakers there is a broad range of abilities. A few weeks ago, she offered to help me with my French. Our first meeting was last Tuesday.

Remember where I was last Tuesday? I was sitting in the depths of despair due to my deplorable French.

Enter "Marie." (yes, names on this blog are changed to protect the innocent)

Marie arrived at 10:30 a.m. on the dot. She greeted me with the more formal hand shake, so I suppose she reserves the greeting of a kiss on each cheek for her dearest friends. She declined my offer of coffee or tea and immediately asked me, "How, exactly, can I best help you?"

I hemmed and hawed a bit, saying something like, "Well? I have a few ideas...."

Directly, she asked me, "Didn't you say that you were going to be preaching in French soon? When exactly do you preach in French?"

Ugh! Don't remind me, I thought! "I have to preach on the 29th of April in French," I replied.

Marie raised her eyebrows and declared resolutely, "That is one month away. For now we will spend our time together working on your sermon!"

And I would bet that just then, high in His heaven, God winked at me! One pointed wink that spoke volumes.

He winked as if to say, "I got your back! I want you to preach WELL in French, so I delivered this perfect helper to your front door."

He winked as if to say, "You were hoping to share your faith with this friend, so here is the opportunity on a silver platter"

He winked as if to say, "And you were worried!"

"What have you done so far?" she asked, unwilling to lose a minute of our time together.

Sheepishly, I admitted that I had only begun to memorize the text on which I was preaching. I explained that we are required to memorize the text so we can tell it like a story in the service. I grabbed the note cards on which I had written out Acts 17: 10-14 and showed them to her.

"Say it for me," she said.

And so it began. Patiently, kindly, but with authority, she corrected my pronunciation, my phrasing, and my use (or lack thereof) of liaisons. For 45 minutes I read and reread the passage, making notes to remind myself of my mentors' directions.

Then it was time for Marie to leave. Before going she said to me, "You will always speak French with an accent. That is not something we can change. And anyways, don't worry about it, it's a pretty accent. What we CAN work on is the melody and rhythm of your sentences. You are very brave to do this, and I am pleased to help you."

"Thank you so much for your kind words," I choked out, holding back tears, "but I assure you, I am NOT brave. I just have confidence in the God who brought me to this place. I dare to preach in French NOT because I am able, but because I know that HE is able."

She nodded, pensive. Then smiled and said, "Yes, you are right. God will help you."

This time, I winked at God.


  1. Further proof of God's faithfulness! He said he would not ever leave you, would enable this ministry to thrive, and this is a sweet example. Thank you for sharing this, Jenn. We love you,

  2. I am so happy for ya! God does NOT let his children go hungry. Your sermon will be amazing, and I wish you all the best in you French lessons with Marie. Je sais que c'est difficile, mais je suis sure que tu y arriveras! Dieu ne te laissera jamais tomber; mets toi cela dans la tete, et tu verras des miracles arriver dans ta vie! Je te souhaite plein de courage.

  3. God's timing is so perfect. I pray that you and she will be become very good friends!

  4. A beautiful story! I hope it goes well for you!