Baxter walked into the training center at the Headquarters of Transylvania Reformed Global Missions for orientation week.
At a circular shaped table were cute little name tags with each member of the teams name placed where they were to sit. The name tags had been computer generated and on the left side of the name was a picture of the globe and on the right side of the name was a Cross. Baxter thought that was cute.
Baxter picked up his name tag and casually moved his seating assignment so that he was sitting at the location closest to the exit which also had the felicitous advantage of having a wall at his back. In doing so he placed the name tag of ‘Shanicka,’ that had been at the seat he had adopted over to where his name tag had previously been. Baxter didn’t figure anybody would notice the switch.
Eventually the rest of the team began to arrive along with the TRGM staff.
The leader of the orientation week was a Rev. Lynne VanderVries-Masters. Baxter figured she was about 7 months pregnant.
“Welcome to the TRGM orientation week,” Lynne said. “We have a special welcome prepared for you today.”
With this Lynne introduced a William Lincoln who proceeded to begin a rap song.
“J-Man he did come to save
heal the sick and roll the grave
The J-Man he broke all the rules
Now you join his troop of fools
J-Man, J-Man, we need you
J-Man, J-Man, to help us woo
J-Man, J-Man, to find the lost
J-Man, J-Man, to bear all cost”
This cadence continued for some time but Baxter, having gone into ‘incredulity mode,’ missed most of the rest of the ‘lyrics.’ Later, he figured he’d catch the rest of the lyrics on ‘TransylvaniaTube.’
Baxter’s incredulity mode was shattered by a resounding ovation at the completion of Mr. Lincoln’s rap song. Baxter wondered why his Father hadn’t warned him about this kind of thing.
Rev. Lynne stepped forward and said with a smile straight out of a Crest commercial, “We wanted all of you to see that there are many ways to do evangelism and that we should take our audience into account when we speak of the J-Man.” After pausing to giggle appropriately Rev. VanderVries-Masters continued, “It is so important that we get past ‘traditional’ evangelism approaches, if only because we are no longer dealing with ‘traditional’ people. We hope that this rap song will stretch your evangelism comfort zone.”
Baxter wanted to ask how ‘evangelism’ was being defined but he figured that they would eventually get to that so he decided to hold his questions.
After this Rev. Lynne decided that they would have a ‘testimony time’ so the group could get to know each other.
There was about 25 people in the group and in the course of the next two hours Baxter heard recounted just about every sin and dysfunction he could imagine. There was Pete, the former Seminary student, who had quit Seminary because he lost God and who was going on the mission trip with hope of finding God again. There was Alice, the Christian who had become a coke addict but who had repented and was going on mission trip in hope of ‘trying to make up a little bit for my mistakes.’ There was Shanicka, who used to hate white people, but who had come to realize that most white people didn’t realize how racist they were. This had given her the ability to forgive them. There was Henry the former Cabbie from Kansas City who had more sordid stories then Baxter could remember. Baxter wondered if this was what the forced confessions in the re-education camps in Communist countries looked like. He had read about those re-education camps and all these testimonies bore a faint resemblance to what he had read.
Finally it was Baxter’s turn to ‘give his testimony.’
Baxter cleared his throat and said with some embarrassment over his inability to compete with the other inmates,
“Folks, I was baptized as a infant. I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were and are outstanding. They have taught me to continue to trust my Elder Brother Jesus my whole life. They have taught me that I am a sinner and need Jesus. They have trained me in the ways of the covenant. Every week we feast on Christ and my Father reminds us that Christ is for us and forgives our sins. That’s about the extent of my Christian testimony.”
Everyone just stared at Baxter.
Finally, after a pregnant pause, Rev. Lynne said, ‘thats nice Baxter. We are happy for you.’
Baxter thought the tone in her voice sounded like something besides happiness.
With the testimonies completed they were excused for a break.
“When we come back,” Rev. Lynne said, “we will learn about how Reformed people do evangelism.”
Baxter went out to his car and fished around in his glove box where he found his flask. He had never had such a desire for a shot. He figured he’d take two pulls. One to get over what he had just witnessed and one to prepare him for whatever came next.