A compact and frail little lady in a McDonald’s uniform was hovering near the coffee table tonight as I joined Emily. Emily was crunching on grades, I decided to join her. I sat down with my drink and turned to my laptop.
Said little old lady hesitated, then moved close, clutching a large KJV Bible tightly to her chest like a talisman, or maybe a shield. She got to the edge of table, and I turned, waiting for the question I knew was coming next.
“Are you Saved?” she asked in a very tiny voice.
“No ma’am, sorry, I’m an atheist, I’m fairly comfortable and happy with it. Thanks.”
After a small and uncomfortable silence, she looked at the ground. “I hope you come to HIM soon.”
And then she left the coffee shop.
After she left Emily mentioned she’d been waiting outside the coffee shop summoning up the courage to go in.
“I feel bad for her,” I said. “It’s really hard to do that. When I used to go around banging on doors for the Church of Christ it was always weird, but you have to kind of charge into the subject and hang on.”
Of course, I was the last thing she needed to encounter, a stout and friendly, comfortable, total non-believer. They’re never really all that good a prospect. What you’re really looking for is someone already going to a church or a person who’s ‘spiritual’ but not attending. Someone who’s already made the step that believing in something makes sense. The wedge is already there. All you have to do then is hammer the differences and you can get them to at least offer to go to your church.
I had been fully ready to buy her a cuppa and flip through the bible with her, in a nice and gentle manner, to explain what in the bible left me a non-believer after I read it cover to cover, but she would know that even the devil can quote scripture. For someone carrying a bible to her chest, asking strangers in a coffee shop if they were saved, when you encounter the raw devil in the flesh (which isn’t very common here in bible-land, and is what I represent to some here), a hasty retreat when you were hard pressed just to walk into the shop, that makes a certain sense.
Maybe one day she learns how to have open discussions with strangers about her deeply held beliefs. Sadly, many like her are taught that this is what witnessing to other people means: accosting strangers in places like that to try and draw them into a ‘scales from the eyes’ argument where they use the bible like a verbal weapon to try and force someone into being saved. Fortunately she was a fairly meek rear guard holy warrior, more apt to annoy other Christians like my wife, who was just here for some coffee and space to get her grading done.
And so life goes on in rural Ohio.