In a time of almost universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
Trojan Hoarse was passionate to the point of fanaticism about his Christian faith. He wasn’t at all demoralised that the dominant secularism of his country seemed to be pushing the church and its message to the outer edges of society. Regardless of all external circumstances Trojan lived to tell others, whether they were interested or otherwise, about the significance of Jesus Christ.
Trojan was Hoarse by name and often hoarse by nature. He spent every Saturday and a number of weekday evenings on the streets of his city shouting at passers-by and haranguing them with what he believed to be the central message of Christianity: ‘Turn from sin, or burn in hell’.
It didn’t appear to matter to Trojan that in the ten years he’d been shouting himself hoarse on the streets not one person had ever stopped to listen. Indeed, increasingly no one even seemed to show the usual response of mockery. It was just as if he was invisible. The iPod had effectively insulated people from Trojan’s verbal barrage. Nevertheless, he reasoned that he for one was keeping the flag of faith unfurled and flying, and that was good enough for him.
On Easter Saturday Trojan was passing the Cathedral on his way to the usual spot for some verbal jousting, when he had an overwhelming compulsion to enter the building. He had never before darkened the doors of a State Church, believing that it was an institution heavily influenced by the devil. Nevertheless, he followed the strange impulse and soon found himself standing in a vast cold space, coated in a semi-light which reminded him of the eclipse he’d once experienced. He felt drawn to a large statue of someone who looked like a crusader. Next to the figure was a long inscription, which Trojan believed gave information about the statue. Unfortunately it was in Latin and so remained completely inaccessible to him. He felt a pang of disappointment, as though he were standing before a door leading to treasure, but it was locked.
Just as Trojan was about to leave, one of the Cathedral vergers joined him and without introduction began to translate the Latin text. Trojan listened, slightly embarrassed, but glad to hear the fascinating story of the crusader and how he came to be buried under the ancient flagstone floor beneath his feet.
As the verger finished translating and whilst continuing to look directly ahead at the statue he said to Trojan: ‘Not long ago I was walking past you on the street. I had a deep and sudden urge to stand and listen and felt you might have something to say to help me. But as I listened to your ranting and shouting I thought you might as well have been speaking a foreign language. Try as I did, I just couldn’t understand a word you uttered. I left feeling empty and disappointed’. With that, he turned quickly around, the force of the movement sending his black robes billowing up like a cancan chorus-line.
At first Trojan Hoarse was deeply offended and left the Cathedral vowing never to return. He spent the rest of that day venting his spleen on the street. He tried to forget the insult from the verger, but the words seemed to stick to his mind like those fridge magnets he’d brought himself for Christmas. Try as he might, and he tried mightily hard, he just couldn’t prise them off.
Over the next few weeks he began to realise that what the stranger had said actually made sense. Just as he’d needed the Latin inscription in the Cathedral translating, so he was using religious language and an evangelistic style that secular shoppers didn’t understand. He mused that he may as well preach in Latin. Trojan began to see the last ten years as a complete waste of time.
A few days later Trojan was out shopping when he saw the verger sitting alone in a café. He plucked up courage and asked the man if he would like some company. Initially the conversation seemed to jerk and splutter, but after a while they began to relax and warm to one other.
The friendship formed that day lasted the rest of their lives. Gradually over the next few years the verger came to Christian faith, as his new friend explained it gently and from personal experience. At his baptism and confirmation in the Cathedral the verger told the congregation about his personal journey to becoming a Christian:
‘The message of the Christian faith had come at first like a foreign language which I couldn’t translate and understand. But then, through my friendship with Trojan the message entered my life almost subliminally, by what I heard through the language of his life and it began to glow like a small spark. In time that spark spread through my whole being until I was literally on fire with the flames of God’s love’.
Trojan Hoarse never returned to the manic street preaching. Instead he invested time and energy in his growing friendships, seeking to demonstrate God’s love and compassion in practical ways. This was preaching that needed no translation. Through Trojan’s actions many of these friends also discovered the tiny sparks of divine love imperceptibly entering their lives. And so it was that these friends were won, one by one, for Christ.