Having visiting missionaries in the audience is an exciting time at fundamentalist churches. They set up displays with neat pictures and artifacts from their mission field. They tell thrilling stories of exotic peoples and cultures in far away lands like Botswana, Tanzania, or New Jersey. But most importantly, missionaries show slide shows.
The slide show inevitably starts with National Geographesque scenes of the “picturesque beauty of the country” and some vital statistics.
“19% of children under five in this country are red-headed and left-handed. The plains region shown here receives 473 inches of rain yearly. The national dish is fried earthworms.”
Next come the stories of the missionary’s work
“In this picture we see the church building where we’ve been meeting for the past three years. Sorry…that man’s not really standing on his head, I must have put that slide in upside down. This man was our first convert — his name means ‘hater of fat white people’.”
At the end comes the ‘ministry plea’ portion with and endless stream of faces of people old and young. (Mission field seems somewhat short on middle-aged ugly people.) For those missionaries are able to afford multimedia presentations (a.k.a. a tape recorder) a song like “People Need the Lord” or “Thank You” will wail out to underscore the need on this particular field.
One may wonder if putting the church members’ neighbors on a screen with a soundtrack would make them seem more needy of the gospel. But one doesn’t wonder for too long. It’s time for the love offering…