They drove wordlessly to the retirement center to see Diane’s mother. Diane had asked Jordan to come. He said yes, hating that he hadn’t seen his mother-in-law for nearly a year, and hating that he didn’t want to see her now.
When he walked in the door, Jordan barely recognized her. But he noticed her eyes light up the moment she saw him.
She gave him a surprised smile. “I hardly remembered what you look like, Jordan. I know you’ve been busy.”
“Yeah. Too busy sometimes.”
“Here, Mom, let me prop up your pillow so you can be more comfy while you and Jordan talk.”
They chatted for nearly an hour. The longer they talked the more comfortable he became. He’d forgotten her sense of humor. As she sat back smiling, a thought pressed into Jordan’s mind.
I should tell her I’ve become a Christian.
He considered going to get his Bible from the car. He felt an unexpected urgency.
Wait, who was he to pop in like this for the first time in a year, then go off on something she’d probably think was weird? He could unsettle her, even offend her. Besides, what would Diane think? There was no reason to push it. There was no hurry.
[From hell’s war room: a letter from senior demon Lord Foulgrin to his subordinate Squaltaint]
My delinquent Squaltaint,
You’re concerned the sludgebag Ryan is encouraging Jordan Fletcher to “share his faith.” You blame Dredge for failing to restrain Ryan and assure me you’re sincerely laboring to derail his efforts. Stop whining. Come out of your corner not swinging blindly, but with a thought-through strategy to knock out Fletcher.
Since it’s what the Enemy uses to change vermin destinations from hell to heaven, obviously you must keep Fletcher from evangelism. But don’t bother trying to convince him it’s bad to evangelize. Let him think it’s good, admirable. Just as long as he doesn’t actually do it.
The best strategy is to keep him from grasping the stakes, so he has no sense of urgency. Even Bible-believing churches help us here. According to the records you sent, in the past 10 years Fletcher’s pastor–who’s been a nuisance to us–has nonetheless preached only one message on heaven and none on hell. That track record will presumably continue, and Fletcher will get the impression eternity is unimportant. He’ll think of hell as unreal and heaven as intangible and undesirable. Both will seem fantasy realms with no bearing on his present earthly life, which he sees as the “real” thing.
Next, persuade your maggot-feeder he must be low-key, careful not to bowl unbelievers over with his new faith, lest they see him as a fanatic and get “turned off.” By all means don’t let it occur to him to quietly tell them what the Enemy has done for him. Let him imagine that this should be done gradually, only when they ask, or only after a long (as in endless) period of “being a good example.”
No man is won to the Enemy simply by the moral behavior of another. No one has ever gone to heaven just because he saw a good example. No one has ever escaped hell because some other man was a Christian.
Let Fletcher be a “good example” until he’s blue in the face–as long as he doesn’t explain the forbidden message. Let him talk with them about anything and everything but what the Enemy has done and what it means to be His follower.
Look around you, Squaltaint, and you’ll see innumerable Christian sludgebags who’ve been good neighbors and model co-workers for decades. But they’ve never actually told those around them what it means to be a Christian. Many of them imagine by now the message has somehow magically gotten across, but of course it hasn’t. Excellent.
Fletcher made the statement to Ryan he’d like to share the Gospel with his wife and mother-in-law “when the time is right”? This frightened you, but it can work to our advantage. Don’t let him grasp the Enemy’s notion that evangelism is one beggar telling another where to find bread. Instead, turn evangelism into something more complex or obscure, something that will happen one day, but never today.
Fill him with an irrational dread of bringing up in conversation the Carpenter and the forbidden message. If the vermin analyzed it, they’d be on to us. What else but our efforts could explain why they get so apprehensive about doing for someone what they believe is the biggest favor in the universe–telling them about the Enemy’s plan to save them from hell and give them heaven?
Don’t let Fletcher ask himself why a man from Portland should care about what a man from Chicago thinks of him as they both fly to Philadelphia. Why, when he will never see this man again (unless he accepts the message, in which case he’ll be deeply grateful), should he be so frightened the man may dislike him? Why would they feel so hesitant about telling people what’s clearly in their best interests? Don’t let the obvious absurdity settle in, or he may catch on it’s we who are playing tricks on his tiny mind, fueling this irrational fear.
Never let him see the incongruity of how he could talk with someone on that airplane and share a myriad of opinions about business and politics, and make a case for why a team will win the Super Bowl, but dare not make a case for the Carpenter. Don’t let it dawn on him they’re all going to die soon. Perhaps in an hour, a day, a week, a year, at most a few decades. Never let death seem imminent.
Teach him to withhold the forbidden message until...his neighbor dies in a car accident, his father and mother-in-law pass away in hospital beds, his wayward niece dies from an overdose, the man he worked with for 10 years dies of AIDS, or his son takes his life. Only then press upon him the urgency of evangelism, just to twist the knife in his soul.
The one thing they consider most important to talk about eventually is the one thing they can’t talk about now. Our perfect timing, our “just the right moment” boils down to this–never, until it’s too late.
Keep him ignorant of church history and forbidden squadrons across the globe. The Enemy may try to point out to him that while his brethren risk imprisonment and death, Fletcher is unwilling to hazard a raised eyebrow or a disapproving glance. Resist his efforts to bring this to mind.
Jordan’s been thinking about sharing the forbidden message with his own father, too? I see the geezer’s health is bad, that Scuzfroth predicts a heart attack within a month. Good–he’ll be in hell before you know it. Fathers are hardest of all. Your report says your vermin’s father intimidated him, called the shots, and now thinks his son’s new faith is a passing phase, part of a “midlife crisis.”
Quick death is the best we can hope for with unbelievers. If he doesn’t die immediately, prompt Fletcher to watch him waste away. Let him visit him, tenderly care for him, and lovingly “respect his wishes” not to hear the forbidden message.
Consider the extent of our accomplishment–they would rather see a loved one go to hell than be seen as pushy by insisting on telling him the truth. The Enemy calls them to be truth-tellers in the name of love. We call them to be truth withholders in the name of “not being pushy.” (Of course, this is acting not in his father’s best interest, but what we subconsciously convince him is his own.)
Don’t let it dawn on him that one moment after he and his father die they’ll both regret the same thing–that he didn’t tell him the truth one last time (in some cases, one first time).
It’s delicious what we’ve pulled off here–Christian family, hospice workers, nurses, and doctors caring for the dying, and in the interests of ethics or professionalism withholding what their patients long for. Christian counselors meet with troubled, desperate people whose lives have fallen apart. But because they came to get help with their addictions or their marriages, the counselors consider it unethical to “exploit” them by sharing the forbidden message. We have countless Christian teachers dealing with lonely, troubled, and desperate students. They could speak to them about the Carpenter, but don’t because they fear reprisals or have no sense of urgency.
Think of it–our prey cites endless ethical and legal reasons for not obeying the Enemy’s command!
Familiarize your vermin with the concept of lifestyle or friendship evangelism. True, it’s often proven deadly to our cause, but only by that minority who consciously use their friendships as a foundation to actually tell people about the Carpenter. The majority never do.
Delay. Procrastinate. Postpone. This is our evangelism strategy. If we do our job, people will die of thirst a few feet away from water-bearers who don’t want to impose their water on others.
“I’ll share the truth when the time is right,” your vermin Fletcher said. Your job is simple–make sure the time is never right.
Populating hell one image-bearer at a time,
For more on this book, see Lord Foulgrin's Letters by Randy Alcorn.