How To Dodge Missionaries
I am a lapsed Protestant (C of E) who has managed to read both Old and New Testaments three times and had several copies of the Bible, sung hymns, read and wrote prayers, and attended church, Christian youth camps and the like, so before the religious ones cast their stones at me because of this story I am about to relate, I just want you to know that.
One of the many
reasons why I stopped being even a faint-hearted Protestant was because I encountered the evangelical Korean brand of Christianity. This particular brand of evangelism believes in the following lovable and Christian-like things:
1. You must bring all your friends, relatives and acquaintances to your church. Otherwise you will Burn In Hell
2. You must bring lots of money to donate to your church even if you are a student. Otherwise you will Burn In Hell
3. You must tell
those friends, relatives and acquaintances who refuse to go to your church (unless they already go to another church) or donate money (unless they are very, very poor and on the verge of dying) that they will Burn In Hell
4. Reading the Bible is something incredibly difficult to do, and it can only be done properly by having lots of soju (Korean rice wine) and barbecued beef. But if you don't 'study' the Bible that way with your fellow Christians, you will Burn In Hell
After having consulted in private with God, I decided that this form of worship was not for me. So despite my missionary school education I successfully evaded going to church for about a decade.
Then, just for fun, I followed a friend to his church in Hong Kong. The first couple of times while listening to the sermon was illuminating - I was happy to have found an open-minded church which had an English speaking Korean American pastor and a multinational congregation. But one afternoon he showed his true (Korean) evangelical colours, and after a two-hour session where I was literally trapped in my pew surrounded by weeping people with their hands up in the air screaming gibberish for the Holy Blessing, I decided that this was probably not the way forward for me. Especially after when the pastor said all gays are probably going to Burn In Hell
. I was cynical and worn out enough at that point to swear to never think about religion again.
Having arrived in the States neither M. nor I practice any religion so I figured we were relatively 'safe' and I would not have to think about dealing with Korean evangelists. But then, I hadn't encountered the Korean Missionary Brigade in front of Hanahreum
, where we sometimes shop to buy Korean food.
When we go shopping at a supermarket, M. usually follows me, pushing the cart while I whirlwind around picking out fruit and vegetables. So I didn't think much of it when as, we were coming out, I saw M. far behind me talking to some stranger. When he got to the car though, I could see he was slightly upset.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"This guy, he was a missionary. I just couldn't shake him off, he was so persistent," M. said, gritting his teeth. The man had cornered M. and the cart and started talking to him about his church and how he should believe in Christ. M. couldn't pull away fast enough. I, on the other hand, had whirled away from these people so fast I hadn't seen them and they hadn't spotted me. Frick, I come all the way to the States and I have to deal with Korean evangelists? I shook my head and decided it was just too bad.
So the next time we entered Hanahreum we decided I shouldn't walk off too far - if needs be I can retort back in Korean to them far quicker than M. can. This time round I could see the K.M.B. lining the entrance and exit holding yellow flyers in their hands from far away; I couldn't believe I hadn't seen them before, there were just so many of them.
"Walk behind me," I said to M., and I steered our way in.
"Do you believe in Jesus? Believe in Jesus!"
"Do you go to church?"
"Please, take this flyer and believe in Jesus!"
Suddenly, a swarm of middle-aged Korean ladies crowded in front of us, but I put on my war-mask (frosty glare, twisted eyebrows and tightly gripped lips) and told them all, "No thanks! No thanks! No thanks!" as one tried to push a flyer into my hand, another waved one in my face and someone else tried to block my path. I ended up swatting them away like flies. It was a success - neither M. nor I ended up with any flyers. On the way out though, we were slightly worried - we had a full shopping cart and it might not be so easy to snake our way out of the K.M.B.'s path. But I glared at them rudely enough and we managed to get by without a hitch.