Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Horror Stories From Missionaries

My wife and I have some missionary friends in a remote part of South America. Years ago, when their five children were very young and unfamiliar with life in “civilized” Southern California, they were home on furlough. They told us about an incident that occurred during their first week here in town.

The day they arrived, they stopped at a supermarket for some groceries. They parked their rented car in the lot and the kids, as most kids are inclined to do, started piling out. One of the kid’s door bumped the car in the next stall. The owners were in the car and immediately flew into a tirade.

There was no visible damage - just a bump.  Our friends graciously tried to apologize, explaining that their children were unfamiliar with parking lot etiquette, but the other couple would not accept their apologies. They just continued their vulgar criticism of the wild, undisciplined kids, and the couple's irresponsibility in procreating too many of them.  Our friends were humiliated and embarrassed at the rude behavior their children had just witnessed.

The following Sunday in church, the pastor announced the presence of the visiting missionaries and introduced the family to the congregation. They stood with their children and turned around to face the people. Right there in the pew behind them was the couple they had encountered in the parking lot. They smiled politely at them; the couple sank back with embarrassment.

Sometimes we think we can get away with our rudeness. We act as though we will never see that person again, but sometimes we do. We would do better to choose compassion and understanding rather than crankiness. Your heart cannot hold contempt and kindness at the same time so choose the one that can serve you best.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31