We did Matins today and R showed up again. We had a wonderful Prologue reading that allowed a great discussion – at least I thought so. After we had a cup of coffee (again, in our cassocks) we stopped by R’s business to drop off a few items he loaned the mission and ask him a couple questions – he’s been enormously helpful as a kind of cultural advisor.
He surprised me. I asked him about going door-to-door, which we were ready to begin doing. He thought that because of the number of women working and the homes that are empty, combined with the heat (over 100 before noon most days), it wasn’t a good idea outside of Saturdays and maybe in the evenings. That wasn’t a surprise to us. But then he said something I found surprising and troubling. It’s something Bev (my wife) had alluded to after we had been to a restaurant a few days earlier. He said we needed to not just be ready to be rejected but to frighten people – even to the point of them calling the police!
I’m ready for rejection, for doors slammed in my face – but I don’t want to scare people. I knew they were having a hard time with us but scaring them wasn’t within my awareness of what’s happening… This really caused us to re-think the door to door approach.
The other thing he said that surprised me was the number of historic* Arab Orthodox families that are here – many more than I thought. So my thinking is that we should contact them and work those leads exclusively. For the time being therefore, our strategy for reaching out (aside from the Food Pantry and other local charities), is to be as visible as possible in the community… and of course continuing the services and seminars.
* Historic in the sense that they are baptized Orthodox but have joined other confessions (often being baptized in them) over the decades of separation from the larger and distant communities with Orthodox parishes.