Last December I was on my way to Miami for work. As I settled into my layover flight from Atlanta, I took out my book, “The Orthodox Church” by Timothy Ware, and placed it in the “seat pocket in front of me.” Within minutes the lady to my left said, “Are you with the Orthodox Church?” The question was genuine. The old Adam would have responded with a five to ten minute response about the church, my job, and why I love this ancient faith.
The new me turned to her with a gentle smile (sometimes my smiles are too big!) and said, “Oh, what do you know about the Orthodox Church?” I thank God that some of my training in evangelism came through in that moment, because my one question began a 10-15 minute story of her horrific experiences with an ethnic Orthodox Church in the south. My one question saved me from being an idiot.
Mrs. Dorothy, as we will call her, knew of the Orthodox Church because of a co-worker at the phone company. After years of working together they became close friends. Eventually Mrs. Dorothy visited her friends Orthodox Church and the whole family. She asked me why everything had to be so (insert nationality) with the family. She suggested that the family cared more for their nationality than being a Christian. The dad was the worse, practically obsessed. Everything had to be (nationality).
I also learned about Mrs. Dorothy’s husband, who had been a Presbyterian minister for over 20 years and retired a year ago. Although he had retired, she was on her way to Cuba as one of the first groups allowed to visit after President Obama lifted the Cuban ban.She was scheduled to teach an educational workshop in Cuba for the next several days and act as a consultant.
Mrs. Dorothy knew much about the protestant world of Christianity in America because of her husband’s vocation. She knew little about the world of Orthodoxy in America and what she did know had been tainted by a co-workers family. She also admitted it took her a long time to realize that her friend at the phone company was a Christian.
When I felt like Mrs. Dorothy had exhausted her side of the story, I decided I was ready to start sharing how “I am with the Orthodox Church.” Instead of bringing up doctrine and church beliefs, I asked Mrs. Dorothy one more question, “have you ever heard of the Janissaries?”
To Be Continued…