I was exhausted and hungry, just waiting for the moment when I could rest. For the past four hours Bekah and I had been “knocking on doors” or the more updated version, “ringing doorbells.” The first time when Bekah handed me the survey and asked me if I would like to do the next house, I was nervous. But after my first try, I found that it wasn’t too bad. The worst part about “ringing doorbells” was when I had to walk up to an imposing door and wait until someone answered, not knowing who I would meet or if they happened to be in a good mood that day.
The first four hours were the most discouraging.
“Hello, my name is Abigail and this is my friend Bekah,” I would smile sweetly, “We’re going around the community doing a religious survey and were wondering….”
“No!” The door would slam.
This lack of simple courtesy and politeness never ceased to bother me. Resisting the impulse to knock on their door again and insist that they at least let me finish my sentence, I realized that I wasn’t like Bekah – able to march on from house to house like an experienced foot soldier. This part of delivering a community survey wasn’t enjoyable.
However, I met some very interesting characters in the last twelve hours of going door-to-door.
Once, a sweet Hindu lady in her early thirties, dressed in a beautiful sari, invited me into her home, and we talked about her country and its beliefs. A grandmother crooned to a tiny baby in different language down the hall, and the rain pattered down outside. This sweet woman talked to me for about fifteen minutes, and asked us to return in six months when her baby was older to go through the Bible with her.
Another lady with white hair and gold earrings answered the door and told us to wait inside until she got off the phone. So Bekah and I waited in the doorway, stroking her two beautiful cats. “Now how may I help you?” she asked us, hanging up the phone with relief.
“We’re from a local church doing community surveys and we were wondering if you could answer a few questions for us.”
This woman was prompt in her answers and fondly held a plump cat in her arms. “I think we all are gods, and we just need to know how to exercise our own power,” she told us. “Even you have power Marshmellow, don’t you?”
“Do you go to a church?” Bekah asked, ignoring the woman’s reference to fluffy animal.
“No.” She paused, “I mean, yes I do, if you consider nature to be my church. Whenever I take a walk in the woods I am worshiping….”
It was interesting to see people’s responses to our questions, and I learned a lot more about people’s thinking and what they believed. I interviewed an atheist, who used to be quite religious when he was younger, but now claimed that he had become more “educated” since then. I talked with a sweet Mormon, a lively Congregationalist, an enthusiastic Catholic, and a suspicious Methodist.
Then an older, well-dressed lady with grey hair and gold earrings answered the door, and I immediately noticed something about her that I hadn’t seen in anyone else.
“Yes?” she asked wryly.
I found myself open to her unflinching gaze. I saw a challenge, and I knew she was testing me.
“What church are you from?” she demanded.
“We’re from the Seventh-Day Adventist church down the street,” I replied, smiling inwardly. Then I turned to the survey seeing that she only nodded. “Do you believe that there has been a moral decline in America?”
“What do you believe is the cause of this moral decline?”
“What do YOU think?” she challenged. “TV, movies,” she began, watching me carefully to see if I showed any signs of being cornered or condemned.
“Lack of parental guidance, and a lot of people disregarding what the Bible has to say,” I continued easily with confidence.
“What grade are you in?” she asked, showing signs of admiration. From then on this Catholic lady seemed to accept me and I no longer sensed the challenge in her eyes as when she first opened that door.
The most surprising experience that I had was when a lady answered her door and told us firmly that she was just about to leave for an appointment, and moreover, she was “a Seventh-Day Adventist.”
Bekah and I stared at her in shock, and she calmly closed the door.
“Bekah! Why didn’t we tell her that we were Adventists too?!” I burst into a sudden torrent of words as we walked down the driveway. “I can’t believe it, that’s so amazing! I was so shocked and surprised that I couldn’t say anything.”
I completed twelve hours of going door-to-door with a new kind of boldness and courage. I wasn’t afraid of hearing someone say emphatically “no” or having a door slammed in my face. I had met many people of different religions, learned more about their beliefs, and what they thought about the world in general. Many said that the reason for America’s moral decline was the media, others said that parents weren’t bringing up their children as they used to, and one even said that it was because kids weren’t going to church anymore. I was surprised to see many people with such a lack of Bible knowledge. When I came to the question, “According to your understanding, how does someone become a Christian?” some people would answer as if reciting from a church manual, others looked at me blankly, and still others quickly replied, “I don’t know.”
Going door-to-door was a valuable experience and I pray that people were led to search their Bibles and find the true joy of living a victorious Christian life.