War, Freedom, Jehovah, McDonald's- Equals Change
by Samuel Connelly 4/18/2008 / Missions
A few weeks ago I was at McDonald's drinking some coffee, watching the world news, and scribbling down ideas for articles. This is a ritual I try to keep. I drop my son off at school at 8 o'clock, wake my daughter up when I get home, make her breakfast, get her dressed and off to school by 9 o'clock. Then I go to the Y.M.C.A. for an hour of cardio, an hour of weights with a friend, take a shower, and head to McDonald's for coffee and two hours of creative opportunity. Then I pick up my daughter, take her to lunch and head to work.
For me personally, I find that a routine is the best practice for a writer; especially if you also work a full time job. I don't always have the same routine, because my schedule is different every three weeks. So I have three, completely different routines that I rotate each week.
This particular morning I was having a productive morning; there was a lot of stuff happening in the news: gas had just gone up again, a young girl had died due to complications with diabetes and her parents were in trouble because they refused to take her to a doctor, choosing prayer instead. A representative from an airline manufacturer announced that they were going to be equipping commercial airplanes with anti surface to air missile systems. He said that terrorists do not even need to get on board a plane now, because there may be evidence that terrorists have gotten their hands of missile launchers that they can carry under a jacket, park near an airport, and launch a missile, from the comfort of their vehicle, 15,000 feet into the air and take out a 747. (I embellished on the 'comfort of their vehicle, they'd have to be out in open ground'. They'd burn themselves alive if they shot from a small enclosed area.)
As I sat there jotting down ideas for articles, a man tapped me on the shoulder.
"Good morning, I'm Milton Scott" he said with hand outstretched. I have to admit that I was a little irritated as I felt the plug, in the creative pool of my mind, pulled out and the ideas that were swimming around like fish, just waiting to be caught and enjoyed, now sank, swirling into a blur as they drained out of my head. 'Another potent brainstorming session gone, thanks' I thought.
The man was possibly 44 years old. I don't like to average an age, I just go for it and guess. Usually I'm pretty good, sometimes however, I'm quit wrong, which is why I don't guess a woman's age when asked. I've learned the hard way. What does the Bible say about a woman's scorn?
Anyways, the man was wearing black slacks and a short sleeve white buttoned shirt. He stood there with a big smile, and a nice comb-over that made me smile. His hand was still stretched out just begging me to not leave it hanging. I couldn't disappoint the little guy. I reluctantly met his greeting. Why the reluctance? If he were a complete stranger just wanting to ask a question, or person needing a friend, or even a person in need of a meal, that would have been fine, but this, Milton Scott, was no accidental acquaintance; I was his target, and that much was evident. But, now that my endeavors to leave with a list of great writing opportunities had joined Peter Pan, and drifted off to Neverland, never to come back to me again, I decided, looking at the Milton, that I was up for the game what ever it may be.
"Hello sir, my name is Josiah McDonald," I lied with a smile. Why give a false name? Just in case he was about to recruit me into a pyramid business, or a cult, I didn't want him to be able to go home and look my name up on the internet and get any real info, much less phone or home address. Why Josiah McDonald? Because I had promised to pick up my son, Josiah, later and take him to the play place at McDonald's. It was a way of using Milton here to remind me not to forget about my promise to Josiah.
"May I sit down?" he said as he sat at my table in the chair directly facing mine. I smiled and nodded. That's all I could really do. If I said yes, it would sound stupid since he was already sitting; and if I said no, that would make me look rude.
"How's your day going today, Josiah? I like that name, it's a Biblical name. Did you know that? It's from the Old Testament. Josiah was a young king, who brought major reform to Jehovah's people. Isn't that cool to know? I believe that Jehovah is doing exactly that today: bringing a major reformation to His people. That is actually why I am here this morning to talk to you. Isn't it amazing how Jehovah works? Did you know that the Bible says that there is no name in heaven or on earth that is greater than the name of Jehovah?" Honestly it is sounds like he was talking nonstop, but he said all of that in one large breath, it seemed, and never broke to let me answer one question.
"Obviously" I started, "You're a Jehovah's Witness."
"You can see it. That is because of the power of Jehovah that has changed my life. And I want to give the good news that will change your life too. So you can experience the very thing that you can see is working in me."
"Slow down, Milton" I said, finally "I figured that you were a Jehovah's Witness because you keep referring to God as Jehovah, and the J.W.s are the only people I know that go out of their way to make that distinction." I quickly replied, "But I am sure that you have experienced a life change from something bad to something good, and that is a great thing."
He went on to tell me all the wonderful benefits there were to be experienced if I would just give my life to Jehovah. I told him that I was a Christian, and I soon found out that my faith in Jesus Christ alone was not enough; I had to believe as he did.
We talked about several subjects for the next forty minutes. And I could see that he was fully convinced that my faith in Jesus alone was not good enough for my salvation. Then as I was about to end my conversation with him, he made a comment (in an attempt to sway me again) to a scene on the news that really hit me.
An anchor for BBC news was in Iraq talking about all the blood shed and covering a story of four Marines who had been killed by a suicide bomber who walked up to their jeep, posing as a civilian, and blew himself up, taking all four of their lives.
Both of us had the same initial reaction: we both shook our heads and then looked at each other in a moment of silence for the young men. It was then, in breaking that moment of united sympathy that he made this comment: "And that would never happen to a Jehovah's Witness, because we can not go to war. We will not fight for the country or a man" (the president).
That did it. That was the nail in the proverbial coffin, for me.
"J.W.s refuse to fight, go to war, join the military?" I asked
"Why would we? We're Jehovah's people; we don't belong to any man."
"And your mission as a Jehovah's Witness is to convert every person here in America?"
"Door to door, person to person." He said with a smile.
"Let's just imagine that you do that. Let's just imagine that every single person in America buys into this. Who then is going to defend us from all the terrorists and evil-minded men who are bent on killing, destroying, or enslaving us? How long do you think it would be before the next Hitler came forward and completely crushed our nation?"
Milton just looked at me blinking.
"As long as there have been barriers in races, nations, tribe, countries, beliefs, there have been wars. As long as there is sin, there will always be those who fight against total freedom. Milton, if you guys really believe that way, how long would it be, in a nation totally made up of Jehovah's Witnesses, before evil men came in and enslaved your sons, raped your daughter, and murdered your families? Because that is what's happening all over the world and mostly in places were there is not a real military presence."
"Josiah," he said, as a tender father would lovingly correct an ignorant son, "you don't see the big picture. Jehovah hates murder. War is sin and we are called out from under that bondage."
"Murder, Milton, is sin. In the Ten Commandments it states that: Thou shall not murder. Is doesn't say that we should not fight for freedom, for family, for life, and for this precious humanity for which Jesus died. Only forty years after those Commandments were given to God's, I mean Jehovah's, people; Jehovah led his people into victory in many wars, which lasted years. War was a way of life for those who founded our faith.
Freedom has always come at a cost. And to protect our families and our way of life, we have to balance our ability to built up the Church and protect our land. Milton, you know the Bible very well, look at Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall. The wall had to be rebuilt, because it was the people's last stand of defense against the enemy. Safety was inside those walls. Children played inside those walls, women cared for families inside those walls. But the walls had broken down in areas and to rebuild them, the men had to build with one hand and keep the other hand on their spears always vigilant and ready to protect that which was so precious to them."
"We are going to have to agree to disagree, Josiah. You don't understand what Jehovah is doing, and you don't want to see." He said as he stood to his feet."
"And Milton," I said, "You have the freedom to go door to door, and try to convert everyone, person by person, and talk about Jehovah, and free the freedom that your religion's safety net provides, and that freedom comes at the price of those Marines who died. Milton, we were created in Jehovah's likeness, Jesus died for humanity, isn't that worth fighting and dying for?"
"I'll pray for you, Josiah. It was nice meeting you," he said coldly. He shook my hand again and quickly left.
I watched him walk outside and disappear around a corner. A few moments later he rode through the parking lot on his bike, looking for another target.
I thought for a moment about the whole incident and then realized I was running a few minutes behind, to pick up my daughter.
As I drove towards her school I didn't turn on the radio like I normally do. I just sat in the silence. There was a tangible presence of serious thought that filled that car ride like a cloud of war honey. I was suddenly aware of questions that I had not thought to ponder upon before: What would happen if a religion, claiming to be Christian or any other faith, which believed that fighting for freedom was a sin, or evil, took over this country? What would it look like?
As a Christian, am I teaching my children to love God, love each other, prefer others, and at the same time, respect, honor, and pray for all those who (Christian or not) put their lives on the line to protect my freedom? I am I making it clear that, should the call to defend that freedom, sound in their futures, God will love, bless, and be proud of them for answering it.
As I got to my daughter's school and watched her run down the side walk towards my car I thought about how I would do what ever I had to, to defend and protect her. And in the light of God's great love for humanity, I should also be willing to protect and defend my neighbor's daughter too.
I live in Wichita Ks. Have a few short stories, articles and several poems published. Finishing up two novels. I am a former youth minister and VJ for a Sky Angel Christian rock show. I'm a deli manager and certified coffee expert by day and write like crazy by night.