Friday, April 07, 2006

They are Going to Thailand......

I just saw a woman with whom I worked at the flower shop downtown on Valentine's Day. She was very nice and a super salesman; so bright and perky with the customers that she put them all in a good mood. I know that she must have singlehandedly increased the revenue at the shop during the course of the week.

When I saw her in the grocery today, I didn't recognize her; with hair pulled back and no makeup at all. She approached me with "Don't we know each other?" and I said "You do look familiar to me, but I can't remember where. Did I do your wedding flowers?" She said "No, we worked together at the shop downtown".

We chatted for a while and she mentioned that she and her husband were leaving for Thailand in a short while. I told her to have fun on her trip, and she said they were going for two years. Assuming they were going on business, I said what a wonderful opportunity this was. She said they had been living in India for 5 years and before that, they were in Australia for one year. She then said that they were missionaries and would be going there to witness to Muslims and other religious sects.

I am really in awe of anyone who attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity. It seems to me that pulling teeth from a live alligator without anesthesia or tools would be easier to accomplish! We have some friends here in our area whose daughter and son-in-law have recently gone to England for two years, for the same reason. I suppose that some people like the great challenge this presents, but I for one, want to do something that has slightly more possibility of success.


Plus, I have always been of the opinion that a person's religious beliefs deserve respect, and attempting to get them to change to another religion belies that, at least for me it does. It may be different if the person you are trying to convert is not wholeheartedly into his or her religion, and has questions about yours. But to preach one religion to a person who is strong in her/her beliefs strikes me as being self-righteous and presumptous.

Witnessing, or sharing how a particular religion or it's representative (Allah, Jesus, Buddha, etc.) has helped you in your life is different, however, as long as you don't preach that this is the only way.

How do you feel about this?


29 comments:

honestyrain said...

like you i think a person's religious beliefs ought to be respected, even when we d onot agree with them. it's true that some people, including christians, do wrong and claim it is in the name of their religious affiliation but i don't think the religion is at fault as much as the culture in which these thoughts are developed. i can't see your former coworker having much success.

here via michele and happy to be visiting again. it's been so long since i was here.

Mamacita said...

Witnessing is best done by example, not by words. Watching someone's life and wishing to have a similar one: that's what true witnessing makes people think. Words are cheap. And words can lie. Actions? Not so much.

goldenlucyd said...

Kenju,
This is such a timey and thoughtful post---I hope EVERYBODY appreciates it. I love your mind.
lucyd

mar said...

I feel they are using a person's religious beliefs as a marketable good...stopping by to wish you and yours a Happy Easter! see you in 2 weeks!

srp said...

God calls all believers (notice I did not say "religions") to witness by example, to show the world God's love through us. We are all missionaries, some just go to foreign lands. The missionaries I know don't talk down to people, pound "religion" into others or disrespect "cultures". They live with the people, work with them, laugh with them, cry with them, eat with them and live God's love so they can see. We are His mouth, His hands, His feet, His words and are to live His love. Nothing is impossible if God is in it and He does not measure success by large numbers but by the individual. If this couple is doing what God wants them to then He will do the rest. We help by keeping them in our prayers.

Lisa said...

I'm not sure that I agree with aggressively trying to convert people to a different religion... Like you mentioned, it almost shows some disrepect. However I don't think there's anything wrong with simply sharing your beliefs with others without judgement or pressure, and simply living your life as an example to all.

sage said...

i think good missionaries can still respect other's beliefs while sharing their faith, but they have to be willing to be open to dialogue and not just wanting to put notches in their crosses for another convert--those kind of people are a sham to religion or whatever snake oil they're selling this week.

Arethusa said...

Kenju, you absolutely rock. I'm with you 100% on this point.

Tabor said...

Aren't there enough folks here who need witnessing in this "Christian" country that she doesn't have to travel half-way around the world? I think it always easier to preach to 'foreigners' than someone who might argue you out of your own beliefs.

Jamie Dawn said...

I have never been inclined towards being a missionary.
I wish this lady and her husband well, and most of all safety.

Hale McKay said...

Yes, we first respect another's religion or lack of one, for that matter. We can introduce our religion to them, but not force feed them. If they are interested they will check it out.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I agree with you Judy, 150%.
And....

AND..btw...
Thanks for all your lovely supportive Get Well messages, my dear...didn't want to get to far into my comment without thanking you with all my heart...

Back to the sbject at hand...I've never understood the arrogance of this behavior. Like you said, if someone is happy with their beliefs it seems really not only presumptuous but insulting and unfeeling..to say: "My Way Is The Better Way"...this is what drives me away from organized religion...Puullease...don't tell me that what I believe is 'not the way' to God, or Heaven, or anything else....So, I'm with you on this, my dear.

~Cathy~ said...

Michele sent me!

I tend to agree with you on this one... We need to respect others' religions if we expect them to respect ours.

WordWhiz said...

I'm kind of sleepy, so my response won't be what I'd like it to be, but I agree. I admit that my opinion flies squarely in the face of my church, but I feel the same way you do. My pastor would argue that the only way to God is through belief in Jesus Christ and witnessing is merely an effort to save people from a life of eternal damnation and provide them with the gift of an eternity in heaven. I'm quite certain that members of otehr religions believe that telling me their truth is doing me a favor. Those Jehova's witnesses who come to my door sure seem sincere. And those nice young men in suits who ride around in bicycles to spread their faith seem like anything but lunatics.

I saw a stand up comedian once who did this bit about getting to heaven. He's in a long line at the pearly gates, stretching and leaning to try to get a view of what's at the front of the line. He turns to the guy behind him and says, "Well I'll be. I had it wrong too!"

MMC said...

Great story.
Michele sent me. Hello!
(3 glasses of wine, can bareluoy type......see? )

Have a great weekent. no, weekenD.

Yeah......

Karen said...

Judy, I totally agree. I just said this to my husband recently. I don't know enough about missionaries, but I question whether their efforts couldn't be better used in some other way.

Michele sent me. Hope you're having a great weekend!

Lazy Daisy said...

I admire your friend for going and living among the Tai people. I truly believe the best way to know what people believe is to befriend them and learn their ways and culture. She must be a very loving person to put aside her own comfort and leave her family and friends behind. Michele sent me tonight but always a pleasure to be here.

Julian said...

I live near Chiang Rai, Thailand and see missionaries working with the hills tribes people and in general they do more harm than good. A favored way of getting converts is to bribe the village chief to become a Christian then he orders the whole village to convert. I depise most of the ones working nearby in Myanmar as they will not speak out against atrocities committed by the army on the Shan and Karen people because there fear they will be deported and lose converts. The ones working with the aid groups in Indonesia after the Tsunami nearly wrecked the whole operation by trying to convert Muslim children they were supposed to be feeding, nearly ruining the whole operation. If the militants had killed them every aid group would have had to withdraw.

panthergirl said...

I could not agree with you more. I think it's pretty arrogant to try and convert someone to your religion. Seems about as logical as trying to paint a white person black or vice versa. The mere attempt implies that therer is a NEED for change. Why?

If one is truly comfortable with one's beliefs, there is no pressing need to get everyone else on board.

Here by way of michele today!

Valderbar said...

I don't avoid mention of Cattess Mror but neither would I expect anyone else to recognize here. Human being or cat being that insist I am lost must not be as familiar with where I am as I am.

keda said...

i agree...

and am stumped as to why americans would feel the need to go to england of all places to convert muslims...or is it just to teach us heathens in our godless green pastures about episcopalianism and the lord bush almighty??

sorry... here via michele's and happy to be back*

Terri said...

I've always felt that religion is a very personal issue. To either follow an organized religion or not. Attempting to "convert" somebody, in my opinion, is not only a total waste of time but extremely egotistical.
I attempt to follow my mantra of "Live and let live."

Gerbera Daisy said...

I totally agree 100% on this subject. I think everyone has a right to believe (or not) anyway they choose.

doubleknot said...

Agree with you also - if it works don't fix it. All of us - people what ever religion have a God within and if we listen real close we can hear Him speak to us - not in voices but in life's lessons but too often people hear their own voice telling them what to do and how to make them feel 'rightous' and better then others.

Sparkling Diamond said...

This subject is a sore spot with me and my latest post is along the same lines.
Growing up on a reservation and seeing the damage done by well meaning 'christians' who just knew what was *best* for them was hard to watch. I won't get on my soapbox, but I really feel that there has been way to much damage done...let people believe as they want.
I just could never buy into "God created us all, we are all his children...but ooopps...I made a mistake-now you select few go fix it."

My float said...

I agree - religion is a very personal thing and is part of what makes you. Many people are guided by their religion which in most cases doesn't advocate violence or hatred against each other - people's interpretations invoke that hatred, hence all the troubles we are seeing in the world today. I too would rather do something with more possibility of success!!

utenzi said...

Michele sent me this time, Judy. Howdy!

Religion is a touchy subject. I tend to admire the young Mormons that occasionally come to my door but at the same time they're a bit annoying. However the task the ones here in the US have versus missionaries sent to other cultures..well, there's no comparison. I can't imagine how the woman you worked with will cope with being in a foreign land and culture trying to change lifelong habits and beliefs. I just hope they don't get hurt!

colleen said...

I don't think it's my business to try to influence the religious beleifs or practices of others.

Teach by example and speak to the good in all of us that is uniting and not dividing and not dependent on what or if we follow a certain religion.

Amen!

Carmi said...

I like the team I play for. I wish the missionaries would stop coming to my door and trying to get me to switch teams. I find it odious and disrespectful of my beliefs. Who elected others to judge me and tell me that my belief system doesn't measure up?

Ick.

Thanks for raising the issue in such a personal, sensitive way.