Evangelism looks different depending on who you ask. But Christians probably agree that, in principle, evangelism should involve both words and actions that glorify God and point to the Gospel. And sometimes, no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem effective. Connie Kendall definitely experiences that feeling in this episode. After recently becoming a Christian, she is ready to obey the Great Commission and tell people about Jesus. But when she and her friend Robert hand out pamphlets in the park, they have little success. Does that mean Gospel Tracts don’t work? This episode sends a mixed message about that. On the one hand almost everyone refuses the tracts, but on the other hand Whit tells Connie that handing out this kind of information to people is a good witness. His only suggestion at this point is for her to be more polite to people. That’s an interesting piece of advice, but it isn’t too profound, is it? It’s pretty basic stuff. Whit could have suggested that Connie perform acts of service to help her community instead of being a nuisance to her neighbors, but that would have been rude for Whit to say. And you can’t have two people who work in customer service acting rudely. And come to think of it, maybe that was Connie’s problem. She was treating people like customers and so they ignored what she was selling. Needless to say, this was a boring scene and Whit’s commentary didn’t add much of anything.
At least the episode gets more interesting from there because then it enters the wonderful territory of legal ambiguity. Leaving pamphlets on park benches or stuffing them into books at the store are definitely questionable practices. What did Robert and Connie think would happen when they did that? When they inevitably make the bookstore owner mad and he kicks them out, Robert cries persecution and compares the experience to the Christians being eaten by lions in the coliseum. What a coincidence when I was just talking about playing the victim for my previous review and now the topic shows up again. It’s totally inappropriate to see this as persecution and even more so to compare it to martyrdom. If you didn’t like the character of Robert already, this is the moment where he becomes impossible to root for. At this point I’m sure many in the audience were hoping Connie would escape his clutches and find a new friend to witness with. But no, Connie stoops even lower when she covers her mom’s car with Christian bumper stickers. Not only does the car not belong to Connie, but her mom isn’t even a Christian. This is definitely a lapse in Connie’s judgment and it’s hard to imagine her character being so insensitive.
I actually liked the part where Connie witnessed to her classmates at school. First of all, Robert wasn’t in that scene, so it’s automatically a highlight of the episode. And sure, it was humiliating for Connie when everyone laughed at her, but it showed for the first time that Connie really does care about her fellow students enough to put herself in that vulnerable position. It was difficult but she found the words to talk about Jesus and the salvation He offers. Handing out pamphlets to total strangers is one thing, but it seems to me that it takes more courage to share the Gospel with people you know and see almost every day. And if nothing else, maybe this scene will help prepare younger listeners for high school. It’s a place where kids often tease each other to the point of bullying, but it isn’t a place to be afraid of. It can be an opportunity to meet new people from different upbringings and share your testimony. The only thing cringe worthy about this scene was the 1980’s-style vernacular that the high school kids were using. This unfortunately dates the show but at least we can be thankful that AIO is a radio show and not a TV show, otherwise we’d have to deal with their hair and clothing styles as well.
When you consider Connie’s faith journey, her eventual conversion to Christianity is understandable because we are able to see the steps she took during her time in Odyssey and at Whit’s End to come to that decision. When Connie finally did accept Christ, it was a joyful and meaningful moment. But with Cheryl McCormick it’s different. This is Cheryl’s very first episode, so it’s not nearly as meaningful to the audience to hear her become a Christian since we don’t even know her. To be honest it seems like a cheap move to throw her in at the end of the album to prove a point instead of developing her into a proper character first. And it’s not like this album wasn’t planned out in advance. It was designed to teach the fundamentals of Christianity. This episode would have worked better if Cheryl had appeared alongside Connie in previous shows on this album. Overall, I think this episode took a balanced approach to evangelism, acknowledging the importance of displaying Christ’s love both through what you say and how you act. But as a conclusion to the album, there should have been a greater effort to polish it up. It ranged from boring parts to the aggravating parts with the character Robert. This episode gets 3 out of 5 stars.