Exhausted from a long day in the sun, bicycling through the jungle and too much to eat for dinner, I retired to my cabin to read. The title of this book had arrested my attention – Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and The Other Dangers by Larry Osborne. All my Christian life, I’ve watched ministers destroy their ministries, sometimes themselves as they pursued their calling. Instead of producing respect for the body of Christ, they cloaked us with shame.
Accidental Pharisees are good people who get lost in the sense of privilege that comes from the adulation of immature Christians. Their pride and exclusivity stunts the growth of the church and inhibits the gifts of others. Instead of hurling accusations and condemnation at his peers, Osborne dealt with the sensitive subject with such wisdom I found myself wishing, I could move to California and attend his church.
My husband and I fell asleep discussing the possibility of relocating and the unbreakable chain binding me to New Orleans – my children and friends. The fact that a minister of that caliber found roots in the most liberal California gave me hope the spiritual climate of my city could change too. If not California might be a nice place to retire.
When we awoke the cruise ship was sailing along the coast of Roatan, the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands. As we sailed along the coast, Rod and I had the same thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to be a missionary on an island. We had not purchased a shore excursion, so we sat on the balcony listening to the native music welcoming the cruisers pouring from the ship for a day of exploration as we discussed how to spend the day.
We decided on shopping and sampling the local cuisine. We walked past the dancers and Caribbean Band entering the tourist to the small two story outdoor mall anchored by Chico’s Restaurant. A man standing behind 4 foot fence called us over. Independent Tours was etched on his shirt. A photo ID hung from his neck. “They won’t let us in,” he said, “but if you exit the gate at the end of the Mall I will give you a tour of the island $25 each, and you don’t have to pay me until I bring you back.”
Warning thoughts flashed. Why are you fenced out? You could bring us to the other side of the island and take all of our money without bringing us back. Using the ships shore excursions is more expensive but it makes the cruise line responsible for your experience and they won’t leave until you return. I looked at my trusting husband, leaning toward accepting the offer, and shook my head no.
We wandered through all of the first floor ships and then meandered upstairs where I found Santa’s home away from home. Santa’s Caribbean Workshop hooked my curiosity and pulled me into the T-shirt shop with a smattering of Christmas decorations. The t-shirts were priced more reasonably than the last shop. As I searched for adult small, it dawned on me that I was listening to Christian music. I elbowed my husband, “Listen to that.” Happy to prosper fellow Christians we purchased several items.
Our journey to the end of the Mall ended at Chico’s Restaurant. The friendly waiter deposited a basket of chips and cup of guacamole to satisfy the rumbling of our stomachs until the entree arrived. We surveyed the large platter of meat, mountain of rice and bowl of beans and said in unison, “We should have bought one and split it.” I picked up my camera to capture the feast for future generations and got more than I bargained for when the waiter jumped into the picture.
Sufficiently stuffed we descended the stairs for one last stop before returning to the ship. We entered a small trailer, the home of Guajiros Art – Fashion. As we studied the paintings, it suddenly dawned on me that I was listening to Christian music again. “This the second shop we’ve been in playing Christian music,” I said to the owner.
“I’m a Christian, and we need to stand up for what we believe,” she replied.
Our conversation revealed that the island 47 miles long and 8 miles wide was already inundated with Christianity – every denomination from Catholic to Pentecostal had saturated the island with the gospel. Apparently, my husband and I were not the only ones who thought it would be nice to be a missionary on an island. I doubt Roatan needs another minister, but it might be a nice place to retire if California doesn’t work out.