evangelist/pastor Aug 13, 2011 20:28:11 GMT -5
Post by Alan Vandermyden on Aug 13, 2011 20:28:11 GMT -5
You know, with my entire view of ministers having been formed by workers and meetings, I hardly understood the distinction. Workers preached at conventions, they led meetings, and they "sought the lost sheep." I hardly know how to sort out, in my own mind, what I did think. I do know that I often used the term "missionary" now, in reference to what I was doing out here in the Pacific all those years (this question turns up occasionally in my Pacific Islands Studies department), but I'm conscious as I use it that the worker ideas of missionary/pastor/evangelist/etc. aren't necessarily parallel with those in common usage. I basically use the term as shorthand, to save a lot of explaining of what I did do - which I wasn't very sure of myself, in fact.
when you were actually in the work--did your duties differ from your expectations? and if so--the how?
They differed greatly for me - and I believe for some others too - in that I had the idea it was all going to be "spiritual" - sitting around giving Bible studies I guess? My first companion told me and the friends in our field repeatedly that I "wouldn't know which end was up." And that's true really, as there is no training, the basic uncertainty on doctrine . . . I feel it serves to keep a young worker off-balance and tied to the system.
for those like Alan and Noels who did overseas missions (as well as missions close to home) was the daily activity different when you were overseas? (In my head I imagine more evangelical work in the developing world--more pastoral in the developed?)
I feel that the daily activity varied mostly in relation to the fact that we didn't have friends' homes to stay in, so rented a "bach," and spent much more time on every day "chores." I still feel it was a great experience, and feel like every worker should have it! Also, much time was spent on language study and becoming acquainted with culture. With fewer friends, we had the time - and it was necessary - to find places to meet people, so we spent a far greater amount of time within the local communities. This is another facet of what I consider a benefit of working in other countries.
How many converts did you have who came from a completely different religious background--i.e. that did NOT come from another Christian church, but instead had been Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim etc.?
Well, I never had many converts, period. That was whether I was in the US or out in the Pacific. But the countries I worked in were Christian anyway, which brings up another question, which sometimes puzzled non-professing people. Why were we attempting to "save" Christians? People in those countries would attempt to point us to the young men who drank as someone to help, but of course, as workers, we felt like we needed to help the religious folks . . .
Did you keep in touch with your converts--were they special to you?
Again, I didn't have many converts. - The experience that became a highlight of my years in the work was seeing a marriage that was gone in the sight of the community salvaged. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I always had trouble with the focus on numbers of converts anyway, and found much that gladdened me in seeing personal growth in people. I did keep in touch with the couple I refer to. I was never much of a letter-writer anyway . . .
If you are now an ex-worker (or even an ex from the group) do you feel bad about leading people into the group?
Not really. I was doing what I saw as right at the time, and when I began to see that things there weren't what they professed to be, I moved on. Perhaps this is related to my own questioning, as I moved away from meeting, in regard to my own ancestors, to whom meetings had meant so much. I see the meetings now as something that helped to free them from something that had become bondage, and now the meetings have become bondage to me. We were all helped to grow in different ways. The meetings helped my wife to move away from a tradition too, which never meant much to her - and I'm not meaning to blast the denomination (Roman Catholic) here, but simply her family's engagement with that institution. The meetings helped her to open up to God, then further experiences helped to open more, again.
What did you dislike about your position? (I know I would hate preaching funerals, correcting people about trivial things, preaching to large crowds)
Preaching funerals and writing letters. Occasions (like some, not all, worker dinners) that became far too formalized.
I'll probably think of more, or want to revise some of this, but these are my initial, "off-the-cuff" responses!