Count it all joy when you face various trials. --James the brother of Jesus

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Homless and Me, Part VI (Mormon Edition)

Yesterday was interesting. A couple of Mormons came to the front of the mission asking to see a resident yesterday. I let them know, as I would for anyone, that I cannot release any information about who lives at the mission--even whether the person is there or not--but that I could leave a message if they were there. When I walked away from the door, the person that they were looking for was already in the lobby and recognize that they were there for her. She went out to meet with them.

I could not just let it go at that. She was about to go out alone to face three Mormon elders, and I could not in good conscience let her go out to face these cult members by herself. I did the only thing that I knew that I could do. I asked them to find a different place than right in front of the mission--on mission property to talk. They were very defensive about this and they asked me why. Since they asked, I told them something to the effect of, "This is a Christian mission, and Mormons aren't Christians." This made them bad, and they became even more combative. The three of them started ganging up on me for a theological debate. I challenged them on what I could, but I was clearly outnumbered, and they knew Mormon theology much better than I did. I did clearly get them to admit though that they do believe that men can become gods. But with all the badgering that I was getting from the three of them, two more came up and I became outnumbered 5 to 1. Finally one of my fellow managers came and said that they needed me inside and I left. They soon left as well.

I've not been left in a situation quite like this before. I found myself to be a poor debater when it came to this type of thing--not because I was deficient in my knowledge of Christianity, but because I simply cannot think quickly enough to respond to 3 to 5 questioners at a time--and because I've not studied Mormonism itself that much. I've studied the Bible enough to know what Christian theology says, and I've been informed enough about what the differences are between Mormonism and Christianity, that I could keep my bearings and understand that what they said and the terms that they used don't mean the same things as when I use the same words.

Being in a position like that is not easy. I cannot depend on my own intellectual ability to make it through. I can only trust that Jesus will give me words to say, and that through the power of the Spirit, he can work the work that he desires to do. I pray that my encounter yesterday--as unprofitable as it may have seemed--might have results that I never see.

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