The False prophets
Two Assembly of God missionaries, John and Theresa Foud, came to investigate and convert one of the many tribes previously exposed to Western cultures, so that most of its members could communicate with them. There was a suspicion in their denomination of a new religion among these tribes which was “spreading like wildﬁre.” The following are excerpts from writings they recorded during their encounters.
“We began by greeting the villagers with our salutations of the Good News in Christ Jesus.” They shrugged and said, “Maybe you mean Jesus. He’s lived and taught among us, and he did warn us about missionaries. False prophets, he called you. He told us never to leave you alone with our children.
He said you would frighten them by your words, and that some of you in secret harmed them so that they became not our same children anymore. He said that you would take our gods away, and make your god our ruler, but we must never let that happen. OUR gods are gentle and harmless. He said to tell any of you who might try to change us, that our gods are as harmless as the Seven Dwarfs. He warned us many, many times that you would lie about him.”
“Jesus? Oh really?” we said, and showed him our holy pictures.
“Those are silly. Jesus doesn’t look like that. He has a little hair on his head, and he’s short and chubby, his nose is big, and his ﬁngernails are red. We have an image of him he gave us, and it moves when the light strikes it, so that we know his spirit is with us when he’s not.”
We told them that wasn’t the real Jesus, but they insisted. They asked how we knew this since we never met him, as they have. We said that we know him in our hearts.
“Well,” they said, “since each person’s heart is different, why, each ‘Jesus’ is different. That means each person is making up Jesus into what they want him to be. That’s silly.”
We said that the “real” Jesus had loved them so much that he died for them to save them from the curse of God because of their sins and to bring them a life that lasts forever.
But their response was, “WHAT?! Saved from “sins” and death? Jesus warned you would tell us strange things. No, Jesus says it is GOOD to die. He asked us if we have ever seen a dead person without a peaceful look on her face, or if we ever saw a dead person who was suffering. Of course we have not. Jesus said that he was dead himself for a while and came back to life. He said very few die and come back to life. We don’t think about dying after he told us. Death’s nothing we fear any more. Some of us have even killed themselves for him. He promised he’ll bring us back to life too, and give us each our own fresh world, if we want. But he understands us and why we like the world as it is.”
We tried to tell them about the Creator, but they said that nobody created the world around them or the stars in the sky above them, because they have always been there.
“No one we have ever known or heard of, had been born before all these things around us. Therefore, they had always been here! Jesus told us we are right. But YOU are just making up things because you don’t know this and don’t know what happened before everyone was born. Jesus is SO wise and just wonderful and explains everything we want answers for. He tells us that what we believe is true, and doesn’t insult our minds. Maybe someday he’ll visit you, but he said you wouldn’t accept him, so why bother.”
Theresa offered them the Bibles we had with us, but they refused. They wanted no part of these sacred scriptures, because, they said, they had been forewarned.
“We don’t want to hear about people who wrote that book from oldest times, who didn’t know us or couldn’t care less about us. They killed their neighbors. We don’t. They made up stories to make themselves special and superior to those around them, as you also have.”
“We don’t accept their god, who drowns all the babies in the world. Jesus agrees with us. He said we should stay away from the kind of people who read that book and really think that drowning babies is something a good person does. He said that we shouldn’t bother with what you’re trading, because we’re good, caring, loving, people, and your book will only make things confusing for us, as he said it does for EVERYBODY. We thank Jesus for saving us from that book!”
There was no way of getting through to those people. No matter what we said, “Jesus” had an answer for it. We told them that they were being deceived by him, which made them very hurt and angry. They took our words as personally insulting. They said we are liars. We never met Jesus, and if we did and really cared about listening to the truth, we also would accept him after hearing his wisdom and witnessing the miracles he did, such as his putting a little white rock in a cup of water and making a head pain go away, or pricking an arm and making a disease disappear, or making a bird appear in his hand as he waved it.
They spoke of a missionary, before us. “Jesus warned us the priest would come and tell us he could change a piece of ﬂatbread into a house with a living body inside. Jesus said to ask the man if he could change all the ﬂatbread pieces into the same body. Jesus told us he would say, Yes,” and then when he did, Jesus said to take sticks and poke them and see if blood came out. And it was just as he said. They were not bodies inside, but still bread. We knew then, too, that Jesus would never deceive us, but that the missionary did. And Jesus told us missionaries are all the same.”
We repeated that we came to speak God’s Holy Truth to them. But they said they didn’t need it, we were like the others, making things up, telling each other only what we want to believe is true. “Jesus” told them this would happen, and it did. “Jesus” told them all they needed to know, which is what they already thought was the truth, anyhow.
“You see,” they agreed, “We know the truth, and we told you only some of it and you won’t accept it. You are FOOLS! So get out of here and leave us alone.”
Well, they escorted us away from there that night. It was a long trek, and I don’t see us ever going back. We give up. You just can’t reason with those people. They have their truth and they’re sticking with it. And they’ve got one up on us: their Jesus is alive, and possibly available.
On the boat ride back, I asked Theresa, “What do you think about our experience?” She said, “Wow! We’ve needed a charismatic personality like him for ages now. But what we experienced? It’s obvious. It’s what happens whenever someone else gets there ﬁrst. They tell their version of the truth. We ALL do what he did. In a strange and wonderful way though, I think THIS Jesus does have a much better message and philosophy of life than the one we’re peddling. It’s no wonder he’s spreading like wildﬁre.”
“I know what you mean,” I said. “And that’s what scares me.”