Many hundreds of years ago there was a Christian Missionary. He was middle-aged, tall, had the strength to defeat anyone in the town in wrestling. He always led the pious life. He was, in every way, the Man of God. He had devoted his entire life to spreading the word of God, Jesus Christ. Although he was burly, strong, and looked remarkably young for his age, probably owing to his austere ways, he was also a salt of the earth. You wouldn’t come across a more kind and compassionate human being. He believed in what he did and was most persevering when the people he was converting to Christianity were resistant. The would-be-converts foolishly, most typical of the pagans, used to hold on to their indigenous beliefs and faiths and used to see the Missionary as hostile to their life. It was through sheer perseverance and the faith in Jesus Christ that the Missionary succeeded in severing their connection with their own faiths and convert them to Christianity. The Missionary was most kind and was averse to the use of violence or food for conversion unless absolutely required. The Missionary had tremendous success in converting the heathens to Christianity and had the most fantastic stories to tell.

The town where he lived was located at the seashore. Sometimes the Missionary would take a boat and row to the nearby islands to find new people to convert. Then came a time when all the people in all of the vicinity were converted. It filled his heart with pure joy when he used to see people coming to the local Churches which he helped the locals set up. One November morning the Missionary decided to explore further east. He stood at the shore and turned his head to the right and looked to the horizon and decided to start the next morning.

The next morning the priest set out even before sunrise to make most of the time. He rowed for hours. The sea was calm and the sun strong, even in that winter morning. After what seemed like many hours, the Missionary saw an island on the horizon. He rowed his boat and reached the small island. He stopped a man walking on the beach and asked, what was his name. When the man said his name, he asked if he was a Christian. When the man replied that he didn’t know what that word meant, the Missionary felt familiar happiness inside, for the opportunity to do God’s work. The Missionary asked to be taken to their priest. The man said that there was no priest on the island. This was a weird situation because generally the pagan faiths also had a priest who serves their community. The man said that there is a man in the village with whom people generally speak when they have any questions. He answers them when he is not out fishing to feed his family. The Missionary asked to be taken to this man.

The Missionary and the man walked for some time and reached the house of the fisherman. The fisherman was older than the Missionary. He was scrawny and was wearing a black coat, whose helm was torn. He was walking with a slight hunch and his face bore the sign of age. He was working with blocks of wood when the Missionary found him. The fisherman welcomed him and asked the purpose of his visit. The Missionary asked him if he was a Christian. The fisherman replied that he doesn’t know what it means. The Missionary with utmost compassion and kindness explained to him who Jesus Christ was, and why he should accept the Christian faith. The Missionary explained to the fisherman about the Word of God and how to pray to Jesus Christ.

When it was noon the fisherman requested the Missionary to have lunch at his hut, an invitation which the Missionary gracefully accepted. The lunch consisted of a bit of fish from that day’s catch, a pale soup, and bread. The fisherman was unhappy because he was unable to take good care of the guest and that too a representative of God Himself. The Missionary assured him that it was alright and he very much liked the food.

After the lunch, the fisherman said that all his life he was ignorant of the one true faith and about Jesus Christ and he didn’t know how to thank the Missionary for telling him about the Son of God. The fisherman promised to teach this to the rest of the village as instructed by the Missionary. The Missionary out of his compassion shared many more details about Christianity which the fisherman listened to with rapt attention. It was almost evening when the Missionary left the heathen island for his home.

There were hours of rowing in front of him and he was already quite far from the island by now but there was not a trace of tiredness on him. There was complete darkness around him. Due to his experience with the sea, he knew how to ascertain the direction by seeing the stars. He was satisfied. The Missionary was satisfied because he did God’s work today. As his heart was filled with joy and his strong arms were rowing the boat in a rhythmic fashion, he saw a faint glimmer of light at a distance. At first, the Missionary thought it to be a ship or a boat and he didn’t mind the company on this dark night. There was not a soul to be seen and he almost welcomed the possibility of seeing some human beings. But soon it became clear that it was not of a boat and too small for a ship. Curious, he stopped rowing for a moment and kept watching this strange source of light. It seemed to sway a little and was the most strange thing the Missionary had ever seen. After what seemed like a few minutes the light came nearer to him. The Missionary saw that the fisherman was walking with a lantern in his hand, walking slowly towards him. The fisherman walked right to his boat and stopped just outside it. The fisherman’s face was filled with remorse and he was visibly in pain when he spoke,

“Dear Sir, I am terribly sorry that I am having to inconvenience you like this. I forgot how to pray to Jesus Christ. Could you please tell me again how to pray to Jesus Christ? You taught me and I still forgot.” The pain of letting the Missionary down still writ large on the face of the fisherman.

The Missionary’s mouth was open at this point. He wasn’t aware of what his mouth was doing or any part of his body was doing. He was still looking at the fisherman with eyes stretched to their maximum limit. The fisherman, acutely aware of the inconvenience he had caused the respectable Missionary, was still standing on the water with his hand near his chest and with the lantern in his hands. It took a lot of courage for the Missionary to finally find his voice. The Missionary replied,

“Please do not worry about what I taught today. Please forget everything I said today. Please pray how you were praying earlier and what you were doing earlier.”

“As you say, Sir”, the fisherman replied. The fisherman then turned back and started walking towards his island. In the breeze, the boat was gently moving from side to side while the Missionary was still seeing the fisherman walking away from him towards the island with the lantern in his hand.

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