On the second day I really practised talking about the mission before I went out again to distribute the third tract. I wore my lucky red coat and took my place among charity collectors, club promoters Belfast telegraph sellers and a church mission. There was a silent camaraderie between myself the Church mission and the Charity collectors. The club promoters just seemed annoyed that I was standing where they wanted to stand. I couldn’t help but notice how little time everyone else stood on their spots for.There seemed to be a hierarchy of patience. In in the hour I stood there the Belfast Telegraph sellers where there before and stayed after me, the Charity collector shared about 20 minutes of my time but the club promoters lasted about 10 minutes before leaving.
So the day began similarly to all my days of street evangelism, people look like they will take the tract then realise it’s not a promotional leaflet and put their hand back in their pocket or try to look busy. But today went a little differently after that a man a little past middle age approached me and asked was I Christian I explained that I’m not and that the work was attempting to open a dialogue about how we discuss morality outside of religion and what ownership secular people have of the terminology that is used by religious people in Belfast. He said “but why aren’t you a Christian, have you never thought about it?” I told him carefully not wanted to be disrespectful that I was a Christian once but that I am not anymore. He then explained that I couldn’t just take it back, that once you gave your life to Jesus he kept it and I shouldn’t turn my back on him. He then asked why I had turned my back on Jesus. Now this is an extremely personal question and also not relevant to the work so I said ” I had a bad experience” which is half the reason. He was adamant that I consider the experience Jesus went through dying on the cross for sinners and did I not think it was much worse than whatever my experience was? I asked him the one question I had always struggled with as a Christian, in 1 Peter 3:15 it asks that you “always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have” He explained that he knew he would meet God one day and this kept him strong in his belief and that I would have to meet God and explain why I turned away. At this point I felt completely worthless, I cannot explain why I am so affected by religion as an atheist but I suppose the fear I am wrong has been deeply ingrained. I have no answer for the faith I had and for me fear was not enough. I miss the comfort that believing in something higher than you brings but I guess this project is partly about creating a space that has that positive atmosphere for myself. I gave out about 30 tracts after this conversation and several people seemed really interested in the discussion so hopefully I will get some comments on the blog.