Help us Reduce Fremdschämen
One of the Christians currently witnessing to Mormon missionaries wrote the following a couple of days ago. He put it so well:
“‘Fremdschämen’ (exterior shame) is a German word with no English equivalent that describes a vicarious shame resulting from the actions of others. The Mormon missionaries my wife and I are currently meeting with had to cancel our meeting yesterday evening because they met with fellow Christians who spent the evening attacking them with biblical truth in a mini-inquisition. Though I’m sure those fellow believers mean well, I can’t help but experience at least a little Fremdschämen after hearing what happened to our missionaries. I hope their negative experience doesn’t endanger the efforts of my wife and I (and potentially others) to introduce them to Jesus...Who has already done everything to make them “worthy.” Proclaiming God’s Law is necessary and can be uncomfortable, but let us do so with wisdom and as gently as possible...And then let us follow up with the wonderful biblical truth of the Gospel. If we speak the truth in love, there should be no cause for Fremdschämen.”
A Christian friend who had served on a Mormon mission said that Christians responded to him when he was on his mission with “varying degrees of rudeness”. Unfortunately, this is often the rule and not the exception.
Is it any wonder then that few missionaries, once they are off their mission, show any interest in Christianity? This holds true even though many of them become inactive in the LDS Church! But it makes sense. Why would they be attracted to Christianity if most of their interactions with Christians were negative?
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share hard truths with missionaries. I just got off the phone with another person who is witnessing to missionaries and we discussed when the right time would be to share the truth that Mormonism is leading them to outer darkness. When done by somebody who has shown them love and concern, it has almost always been accepted as an expression of love and concern. The missionaries are startled by it, but they are not angered by it.
Friends, let’s not give Mormons or anybody else any more reasons to ignore Jesus. Rather let’s show them respect and concern. May they see Christians as people who love them. May we never give another Christian a reason for Fremdschämen.