Baxter had always wanted to go on a short term mission trip. Indeed his desire to do so was so intense that when the Mission sending agency he was going with insisted that he had to change his e-mail address, “Stonewall@yahoo1863.com.” due to concerns that such an e-mail might give possible contributors the wrong idea about Baxter’s view on race issues, he willingly complied by creating another e-mail account, “Sicsempertyrannis@gmail.com,” for his Mission correspondence. Baxter figured that it was highly unlikely that anybody connected with the Mission agency did enough of either Latin and History to accuse him of sneaky insubordination.
He was right.
By avoiding this one inconvenience Baxter had made it through the first hoop of being accepted to the Mission agencies short term mission program. The next hoop, after filling out the requisite paperwork, was to go for an interview with the Mission representatives.
On the appointed day Baxter, dressed in order to impress, showed up at the Transylvania Reformed Church’s headquarters in Two Floods, Colorado.
Baxter was greeted by a half Mongolian, half Choctaw Indian receptionist. He wouldn’t have known that except that in the interview process the Mission representatives went out of their way to point out the diversity of their staff, including the receptionist. The Mongotaw receptionist pointed him to a machine that spat out a neat little name tag. Baxter went to the waiting area.
Eventually the receptionist called out,
“Here,” Baxter replied.
“Ms. Luse and Dr. Reel-Blanding will now see you.”
Baxter headed into the office space. He noticed a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King and a photograph of Mahatma Ghandi on the walls.
Ms. Luse and Dr. Reel-Blanding greeted Baxter with smiles that looked like they were permanently and artificially affixed on their faces. Baxter, seeing those smiles, remembered the time that somebody glued their eyes open in College so that they could sleep without the professor noticing. He wondered if these smiles were preforming the same kind of con.
Ms. Luse was the first to speak, “I trust you had a good trip into Two Floods Baxter.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” replied Baxter.
Pleasantries and small talk was exchanged for the next 15 minutes before Dr. Reel-Blanding got down to business.
“Baxter, we notice on your application that you grew up in a Christian home — indeed we see that your Father is a Pastor in the Transylvania Reformed Church.”
Baxter replied with an affirmative.
“Well, we feel that we need to let you know immediately that working on the Mission field is very different then living in a Pastor’s home.”
Baxter replied, “Well, I should think that working on the Mission field is very different then living in any number of homes in this country.”
“Yes, Baxter, that is true,” replied Dr. Reel-Blanding, “but the reason that I go out of my way with you to point this out is that we have noticed here at Transylvania Reformed Global Mission that Pastor’s children sometimes are raised to see things more black and white then most of the rest of our candidates and sometimes that can cause problems on the field.”
Baxter began to wonder what he had put on his application that could have raised this red flag.
Vera Luse continued, “Baxter, we want to be careful that our candidates are not too absolute in their convictions.”
She paused to see if Baxter would respond and after a few seconds of silence Baxter decided to probe a little bit.
“So, are you telling me that you’re looking for Christians who are flexible?”
“Precisely,” said Vera.
“I think I see what you’re getting at,” Baxter replied. “What you want is people who are absolutely convinced that absolutes can get in the way on the Mission Field.”
Dr. Reel-Blanding’s countenance brightened immediately. “Yes, that is exactly what we are trying to communicate Baxter.”
Baxter couldn’t believe that his sarcasm had been missed but he had delivered the line with such earnest equanimity that the comment flew right over the ladies heads.
“Well,” Baxter continued, “I think I can guarantee you that if I meet any cannibals that I won’t dare to find fault with their dietary supplements.”
Both the ladies found, what they took to be a disarming comment, to be charming and they offered up the obligatory polite laughter at Baxter’s ‘cute’ comment.
The rest of the interview was dreadfully uneventful, and it ended with the ladies welcoming him aboard.
Baxter left, reminding himself that this was only going to be a 7 week trip and that his purpose was to see if God was calling him to the mission field. He reminded himself at the same time that he didn’t believe God was calling him to save the Transylvania Reformed Global Mission agency.
“As if anybody could” thought Baxter before he slipped into the car to head back home to Charlottesville.