Monday, October 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Month, Day 16: Missionaries in Three Hills

I said at the beginning of this month that I was going to write about people who have made an impact on me. The people I'm writing about today have made a crushing impact on me, and I don't even know their names. They'll never know what they have done to me. And I will most likely never see them again.

It happened this afternoon. I looked out of the east window of the TH and saw the sweet little family coming down the sidewalk toward Nilgiris. They turned into the cul de sac just before crossing the street, a dad, mom, son and little daughter, all chatting and laughing and happy as they strolled along together.

I stepped outside through the door next to the fire place and the tiny girl saw me. She said something to her dad, clearly excited about something; he handed her a pamphlet of some sort and she came charging across my lawn in my direction. "Here - this is for you!" she managed to gasp out before rushing back to the security of her parents. Her eyes were sparkling and her smile threatened to swallow up her whole face.

As I went back inside the TH, I looked down at the paper and I realized that I had been handed a religious booklet. This is the first time since I've moved to Three Hills in 2003 that I've ever had someone come door-to-door visiting for the purpose of handing out tracts and pamphlets. And how happy the family is just to be together in the sunshine on this perfect Sunday afternoon! 

"Missionaries in Three Hills - what's so remarkable about that?" you might ask. This town was built on old pioneer missionaries, it has sent out countless missionaries to all parts of the world, and a lot of them seem to come back to roost here too.

Except ... in this little family, the mother wore a burqua.

And the pamphlet they handed me was called "Ahmadiyya Muslim Community."

I felt like I had been punched in the gut as I realized that the very first people I have bumped into going door to door in my neighbourhood handing out tracts or literature in all the time I've lived in this "Christian" town were not Christians at all.

The pamphlet is beautiful: good quality gloss paper, colour, graphics, well written; its message is one of hope and optimism, with a nod to all major religions. It tells about the charitable work it is involved in, and it gives a list of its places of worship, with complete address and phone information should you want more information.

And that little family was So.Very.Happy.

After I had read a bit of the pamphlet I was overwhelmed with the need to reach out to them in turn, to invite them into the TH for tea, to show them the love of God that is in our hearts and that truly is in this town but which, I am pretty sure, would not be extended to them very readily this day as they went from door to door.

I knew that if they reached my Dad's home he would talk to them (they didn't); and I really, really missed Mr Erickson, who would have done the same. He would have been overjoyed to speak with them, actually. 

Jesus would have loved to talk with them.

I went running outside again and checked the cul de sac and Main Street, but they had already moved on. 

I felt (and feel) wretched and pray that someone else in our little town will have been more sensitive to the opportunity that I so carelessly missed.

However, the lesson they taught me was enormous. It's certainly not considered de rigeur any more to go door to door "proselytising". And somehow I can't see myself ever being able to do that. But what about when I encounter people in my day-to-day life? Am I hesitant to speak out?

I had a colleague who became a friend at Carswell. We both started at the same time, way back in 1992. In our training manual was typed a flippant comment supposed to encourage newbies who might mess up: "Only Allah is perfect." She took quiet offence to this comment, feeling that the manual was making light of what was sacred. On her first week on a job she really needed she said she would not be able to work until the manual was revised to remove that comment. That name was precious to her and she would not have it disregarded in this manner.

I remember that that took a lot of courage for her. And it was a rebuke to me at the time: was I that sensitive to people tossing the name of the Lord Jesus Christ around, using that name as an expletive? I know that I cringe inwardly every time I hear it; but how often do I say anything to identify myself as one of His followers?

I thought of her this afternoon as I thought of the little girl's sweet face, of the dad who clearly loved his kids, of the cheerful mom enshrouded in black.

I am so grateful both to my friend and to these nameless missionaries for applying the electroshock paddles to my heart this Sunday afternoon.


  1. Thanks Karyn! Very thought provoking....Dad always gave out tracts and if someone gave him a tract he would take their's if they would agree to take the tract he had to offer :)

  2. EXACTLY! - that's why I was missing him so much at the TH yesterday. I kept thinking, "Mr Erickson would have known what to say ..."

  3. It does seem like there are at least 50 Jehovah Witnesses out for every one of us Christians. Sad, but true. My dad's family was saved because a pastor went door to door and I always enjoyed going with my dad. Our kids are getting to the age where they're excited to hand out tracts and I pray that they keep that enthusiasm. Rejection can be hard, but it's not really of us personally. It's harder to see people rejecting the free gift of salvation when you know where they're headed.

  4. Whenever Mom & Dad ever ate out, Dad always left a tract on the table. You don't see it done much any more.

  5. Oops - didn't realize that some time back when I first followed a blog, it was my neice's.....thus the previous one coming up as "Aunt" Sorry, Karyn!


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