Missionary Impossible – A Slice of Real Life

I’ve worked as a letter-carrier for many years, and had just started a new delivery route at the Post Office. I was going through the usual learning curve. It’s not easy remembering 400-600 new names, not to mention which houses have dogs, which customers will constantly complain, and which ones will want to visit with me all day, telling me about their lives.

As I was delivering to one particular house, I noticed a religious tract hanging on the mailbox. I assumed it had been left by a door-to-door missionary and went on my way. The next day I saw another tract and noticed for the first time all the religious signs on the porch. “Choose this day whom ye will serve, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” This is the day the LORD has made…” There were about six or eight of these, as well as a hand-lettered sign: “To whoever stole my TV. May God bless you and may you come to know Jesus. I will pray for you.”

I then understood that the tract on the mailbox was meant for me. I left it, hoping the homeowner would take the hint. The prospect of having a religious zealot on my route was not one I looked forward to. It is almost impossible to get away from them. No answer is sufficient to stop their attempts to save someone.

The next day my fears were confirmed. The gentleman caught me. He mentioned the tracts. Then he asked me the question I was dreading:

“Do you know Jesus Christ?”

I had to think quickly. Any answer would play into his script. Tell him I don’t believe in Jesus or God, and I become his personal mission project. Agree with him, and I end up discussing theology. The whole time I was bemoaning his asking me such a stupid question. Who hasn’t heard of Jesus—how clueless could a person be? But suddenly, I had an answer to his question:

“I’m sorry, whom did you say?”

“Jesus Christ”

“No Sir, I’m afraid not. Does he live here?”


“Oh, I see. He’s moved, you need a change of address form, let me give you one.” I reached into my bag.

“No no, I’m talking about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

“Well I don’t show that name at this address.” I was determined to be deliberately obtuse.

“Jesus died for us, you don’t know about this?”

“Oh, Sir, I am so sorry, I didn’t know you had suffered a loss. I apologize, I just started this route, but you have my sympathy.” At this point, I found it hard to keep a straight face. I could see his frustration rising, but he steeled himself, determined to give his pitch one more try.

“You do believe in God, don’t you?” He looked at me at me with puzzlement, perhaps questioning the Government’s hiring standards.

I knew enough not to give a straight answer to him, because I would get in a lot of trouble if I screwed up. I furrowed my brow and tried to look as confused as possible. My best bet was to ignore his last question.

“I’m sorry, Sir, I don’t understand, this family lived here and now they don’t? Or they live here now? Just tell me who lives here and I’ll make sure you get the right mail.” All the while, I assumed a more professional tone, and then pulled out my notepad and started writing:

“OK, Christ does or does not live here?”

My customer sighed and shook his head.

“Never mind.”

I shrugged my shoulders, trying to appear as lost as he was, unable to communicate my intentions. As I walked away, I heard him mutter:

“I’ll pray for you.”

But he never bothered me again. Mission accomplished.


Missionary Impossible – A Slice of Real Life — 3 Comments

  1. Fantastic response.

    Hmm. It’d be trouble if atheists adopted this stance all the time though. Could be painted as illiterate.

    It’s always a tough one on the job isn’t it? At one job where I managed a store, I was challenged as to what I’d do on a crashing airplane; pray, or not? What I did do, was bite my tongue to an extent, since I was in a ‘position of authority’ over the staffer.

    Difference of opinion on the job can quickly degrade into accusations intolerence and oppression.

    It’s sad to feel the need to be quiet.

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