Years ago I had a visitor in the church I served in Louisiana. I was busy doing something religious, when in walked a fiftyish woman in jeans and a tee shirt. I thought she was a transient and asked if I could help her. Much to my surprise, she asked not for food or money, but paper! She said, “I am a missionary telling people about the Holy Spirit, and I need some paper to make fliers.” I didn’t know what to make of her, so I got her some paper. She thanked me, gave me her card, and headed off with her satchel on a little cart. Her card, made with a rubber stamp, said: “TRUTH FOR CHRIST ANGLICAN MISSIONARY EVANGELISM GOOD SAMARITAN PEACE CORP. What is your truth? Your truth for Christ today. MARY ELIZABETH GODWIN, Missionary Worker, Halifax, Nova Scotia.”
She reminded me of another woman I had not thought of in years. “Peace Pilgrim” was stenciled on her sweatshirt. She said that God called her to travel around and call for peace in Vietnam. All she had were the clothes on her back and a small satchel. She walked until someone offered her lodging, and fasted until someone offered her food.
Are such folks fools for Christ or just plain fools? It’s hard to say, especially when you consider some of the characters in the Bible. Jeremiah wore yoke bars rather than a sport coat. Ezekiel carted his suitcase all around and skipped his wife’s funeral. John the Baptist lived in the boonies and ate bugs. Even Jesus would have a hard time registering to vote, having no regular mailing address.
No one can accuse us of being weirdoes. No sir! We are respectable. We’ve got good manners. We’ve got class. We’re foolproof. God is surely proud to have such accomplished children.
Of course, unlike Mary Elizabeth Godwin and Peace Pilgrim, it’s hard for us fully to understand a Savior who had no place to lay his head. And when we read Paul’s words about the gospel being a scandal, we just shake our heads in wonder.
Someone said, “Wherever Paul went there was a riot. Wherever I go they serve tea.” Alas.