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Rev. Saul Paul

Rev. Saul Paul
Independent, Missionary
Corinth, Greece

Dear Mr. Paul:

We recently received an application from you for service under our Board.

It is our policy to be as frank and open-minded as possible with all our applicants. We have made an exhaustive survey of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to pass as a bonafide missionary.

We are told that you are afflicted with a severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. Our Board requires 20-20 vision.

At Antioch, we learn, you opposed Dr. Simon Peter, an esteemed denominational secretary and actually rebuked him openly and publicly. You stirred up so much trouble at Antioch that a special Board meeting had to be convened at Jerusalem. We cannot condone such actions.

Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We hear that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the church at Philippi, you admitted that they are the only church supporting you. We wonder why.

Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren reported that you did two years time at Caesarea and were imprisoned at Rome.

You made such trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism in missions is uncalled for. We also deplore the lurid “over-the-wall-in-a-basket” episode at Damascus.

We are appalled at your obvious lack of conciliatory behavior. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gate, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever suspected that gentler words might gain you more friends? I enclose a copy of the book by Dailus Carnagus, “How to Win Jews and Influence Greeks.”

In one of your letters you refer to yourself as “Paul the Aged.” Our new mission policies do not envisage a surplus of super-annuated recipients.

We understand that you are given to fancies and dreams. At Troas, you saw “a man of Macedonia” and at another time “were caught up into the third heaven” and even claimed the “Lord stood by you.” We reckon that more realistic and practical minds are needed in the task of world evangelism.

You have caused much trouble wherever you have gone. You opposed the honorable women at Berea and the leaders of your own nationality in Jerusalem. If a man cannot get along with his own people, how can he serve foreigners'

We learn that you are a snake handler? At Malta, you picked up a poisonous serpent which is said to have bitten you, but you did not suffer harm. Tsk, tsk.

You admit that while serving time at Rome that “all forsook you.” Good men are not left friendless. Three fine brothers by the names of Demas, and Alexander the coppersmith have notarized affidavits to the effect that it is impossible for them to cooperate with either you or your program.

We know that you had a bitter quarrel with a fellow missionary, Barnabas. Harsh words do not further God’s work.

You have written many letters to churches where you have formerly been pastor. In one of these letters, you accused a church member of living with his father’s wife, and you caused the whole church to feel badly; and the poor fellow was expelled.

You spend too much time talking about the “second coming of Christ.” Your letters to the people of Thessalonica are devoted almost entirely to this theme. Put first things first from now on.

Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking about a wild goose chase to Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s powers. You cannot win the whole by yourself. You are just one little Paul.

In a recent sermon you said, “God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ.” It seems to us that you ought also to glory in our heritage, our denominationalism and program, the unified budget, and the World Federation of Churches.

Your sermons are much too long at times. At one place, you talked until after midnight and a young man was so asleep that he fell out of the window and broke his neck. Nobody is saved after the first twenty minutes. “Stand up, speak up, and then shut up” is our advice.

Dr. Luke reports that you are a thin, little man, bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches, that you sleep very poorly. He reports that you pad around the house praying half the night. A healthy mind in a robust body is our ideal for all applicants. A good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip, so that you wake up full of zing.

We find it best to send only married men into foreign service. We deplore your policy of persistent celibacy, Simon Magus has set up a matrimonial bureau at Samaria, where the names of some very fine widows are available.

It hurts me to tell you this, Brother Paul, but in all of my twenty-five years experience, I have never met a man so opposite to the requirements of our Foreign Mission Board. If we accepted you, we would break every rule of modern missionary practice.

Most sincerely yours,
J. Flavius Fluffyhead
Foreign Mission Board Secretary

J. Harold Smith, “Your Good Neighbor,” November 1952

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