Blair and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in a tree house. Her surprise. Apparently, tree houses with a bed, breakfast nook and porch are a thing. We ventured up to the metropolis of Suches, GA only to find we weren’t the only ones with camping on our mind. There were fifty grown men and women chatting around their tents at the bottom of the hill below us.
On an evening walk, Blair and I noticed this group was eating dinner under the camp pavilion. We thought we’d say hello. Blair pointed out to me that each of their cars had a sticker with a Bigfoot emblem. I said, “Blair, we have to ask them about this. If nothing else, I’ll get a sermon illustration out of this.”
As I approached, the chatter hushed around their tables. They looked nervous and suspicious of us. I introduced myself to one of the men. “What group are you guys?” I asked.
“We’re part of a family reunion,” he said.
Blair whispered to me. “This is the first family reunion where I have never seen any children.”
“Oh, wonderful. Well, what’s with all the Bigfoot stickers?”
You could hear a pin drop.
“What you do mean?” He volleyed back.
“I noticed that every single car has a sticker of Bigfoot.”
“That is kind of weird. Huh?” he responded.
Finally, Tina stepped forward. “Ok, look. We signed a NDA.”
“A what?” Blair asked.
“A non-disclosure agreement. We’re Bigfoot hunters. There have been a few sightings in the area. We are from all over the U.S.. My husband thinks I’m crazy. But I’m not. Also, before I forget, I’ve told this crew to leave you all alone and give you some privacy.”
I asked her point blank: “Have you ever seen one?”
“Two in fact. They were sixty feet from me. But I couldn’t get my camera. My husband keeps telling me it must have been a bear. He doesn’t believe me. He’s wrong. We’re going out tonight. And here’s the deal. Even if you don’t believe, it’s still fun.”
At this point, another gentleman offers for us to stay for dinner. I took him up on an evening cup of coffee. He said, “If you want the good, cold creamer, we have it in the fridge. I can get it for you.” And at this point, the group had embraced us and the chatter had started back up.
This experience, as foreign as it was, did Blair and me some good. It made us think about the Christian faith in a new way. Here was a group of people who gathered together for a common belief. Many people had told them they were absurd. Despite the skepticism of others, they pressed forward. I think about the early Christians. They claimed that a man from Nazareth is God’s son who was raised from the dead. It was a new message, a radical belief. They had no physical evidence for their claim. They experienced ridicule and scoffing. They pressed forward with their unwavering belief.
This experience also made me more sensitive to what outsiders experience when they approach the Christian faith. When I learned about these Bigfoot hunters, I had all sorts of questions and curiosities. What brought them to this conclusion? Was there any sort of weird ritual? What is a Bigfoot? In fact, I told Blair after we left that night. “I got to be honest. I don’t know what a Bigfoot actually is. I wanted to ask, but I was afraid I would insult them.” Imagine what it’s like for a non-believer to approach the Christian faith. They likely have questions about Jesus but are afraid it might be insulting to ask.
Non-believers have questions. What do Christians believe? What do your rituals mean? Who is Jesus?
Imagine attending church on a communion Sunday and hearing the minister describe communion as drinking the blood of Jesus. Can you imagine how foreign that might sound to someone new to the community?
This coming Sunday, we’re reading a passage from Hebrews 4:15 in which the writer describes Jesus this way: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize.” Our savior, Jesus, is able to sympathize with our fear, hurt, skepticism. It makes me think we Christians ought to be more willing to sympathize with the non-believer. It’s a radical claim we believe. We believe a Savior who died over 2000 years ago is alive through a spirit we cannot see. What an awesome claim! To believe indeed takes faith.
The next morning, we shared breakfast at the cafe at the bottom of the hill with the squatch watchers.
Blair asked Tina, “Did you guys hear anything last night?”
“No, there wasn’t much activity,” she said.
Another member of their crew piped up, “I stayed behind in camp and I’m pretty sure I heard a squatch near the camp. I heard the classic ‘Ohio howl.”’ (YouTube it).
Tina continued with agitation in her voice, “And I got back to camp about 3:30am. I was so mad. There was another group of Bigfoot hunters making fun of us online.”
“There are different groups?” I asked.
“There are all sorts of Bigfoot groups. They said our group doesn’t do good research and called us a bunch of idiots. And I got so mad I typed in the Facebook group, ‘Well, I’m the chief of these idiots so why don’t you say it to me?'”
Blair said to me later, “This is more like the church than we thought.”
I don’t think Blair and I will be hunting Bigfoots anytime soon or believing in them for that matter. There is no compelling evidence of Bigfoot and there’s plenty of evidence for a savior who is alive. Look around and see all the people who have made a change in their life because of an experience of Jesus Christ and his teachings.
But Blair and I both came away appreciating the generosity and vulnerability of this group and for their willingness to invite non-believers like us into their circle with food and drink. They accepted our questions and trusted us enough to answer them honestly. They were willing to absorb the ridicule of the world around them. Maybe there’s a thing or two we Christians could learn.