Call it a mission of understanding. We were never rude. Never disrespectful. I’m an atheist. Like the missionaries of Family Radio (Family Stations, Inc.), I am a member of a small group of people who are distrusted and hated by the rest of America. My friend Brian and I infiltrated the missionaries of Caravan 2 in Beaumont, Tx. Not to mess up their work, but to attempt to understand why they think and act the way they do. We spent the majority of our time with a woman named Bea. Bea is a woman with strong convictions who is following her beliefs, which is why we find her such a tragic character. She is a widow and claims that at the end of her husband’s life, he was very sick. He often had trouble sleeping due to his illness. Bea claims she turned on Family Radio one evening, and her husband went to sleep peacefully. This became her routine.
Bea speaks passionately about “god’s plan.” We had to resist shooting glances at each other as the conversation took us deeper and deeper into the psyche of this disillusioned woman. It’s tragic to see people, who are very generous and welcoming, give up their entire lives because of the thoughts of a madman. Bea speaks very fondly of this madman, referring to him as Mr. Camping and basing her entire life on his ridiculous words.
She has been shunned by her entire family. She spent time telling us about the ridicule she received from her son and grandchildren. They have told her several times that if she continues to speak the way she does, they will not be around her. But, she cannot escape her convictions — the drive of a corrupted mind that leads her to abandon her family. Her life. She said:
“I can’t control what people say. I can’t make them believe. I can only warn them. Everything after that is in god’s hands. My family said, ‘He [Harold Camping] has done this before.’ That’s not for me to decide. I have to go where god leads me.”
We cannot forget the enormity of the situation. We cannot forget the reality of every “prophet” in our short history, because like the other wicked minds of history, Harold Camping’s wallet is getting fatter as he spews his deceptive venom onto the sheep. People across America are selling everything they own. When asked if he would return the money on May 22, Camping said, “What they give, they give willingly.”
The media reports are all the same. A smirking news anchor briefly tells the story of the wacky missionaries in a way that allows us to chuckle. We laugh it off and forget that there are people behind the charade. I am genuinely sympathetic. I will certainly be thinking about Bea, as well as every other member of this “mission,” on May 22nd with a heavy heart. For most of America, it is another day. We will hear about it on the news. A bunch of crazies were wrong. We’ll ridicule them and continue on with our lives, because the insanity never reached our doorstep. And Bea, along with the other missionaries, will have to return to whatever is left of the life they left — to the ones that ridiculed them…because they believed.