It seems to be tradition to take visiting authors on a tour of ministry headquarters before or after radio interview recordings. It’s inspiring. You get to see beautiful boardrooms furnished by generous donors and the walls of honor for those who have made sacrifices to build the ministry and those who have been photographed with presidents. You get to see digital developments that gets the Gospel out to the world and even walk through the cubicled offices to be introduced to those who lead the various teams that make it all happen.
After one such a tour I was escorted to another building across a massive courtyard with manicured lawn and gardens, to where the studio was. The interviewer had completely forgotten why I was there and that we were supposed to talk about my new book, even though I saw my book on top of a pile just outside the studio door. Instead, he asked about the general things: How did I come to know Jesus? What were some interesting experiences I had had in ministry? After half an hour, he asked me to wrap up the interview, which I couldn’t do in a way that would connect any of what was said back to a book called (un)Natural Mom! As he got up to say goodbye, I interjected very nervously, “Bill (not his real name), I think my publicist may have wanted us to stick to the book, although I really enjoyed our conversation.” He sat back down and said, “Okay. Let’s do that! Talk me through the title, some chapters and the epilogue, and we’ll edit it later.” This is radio speak for “I don’t know the title of the book and I have absolutely no idea what it could be about, or which questions could make sense, so I’m going to need you to fly solo on this one!” So I did.
Afterwards, he was clearly uncertain as to what to do with me. I offered to head back towards the building, where the tour started, and asked Bill to let our “tour guide” know that I was on my way to the entrance near the parking lot where she met us earlier. I stopped an intern to take a picture as proof that I was there, and then saw the parking lot. I could just walk around the building towards it. There wasn’t a real path there, but there was a strip of lawn between the offices and a large pond.
I stepped into the foyer a few minutes later and was met by the tour guide. She was flushed and out of breath, clearly upset. As calmly as she could, she explained that nobody was allowed to walk through the building, ANYWHERE, unaccompanied. I had been on the loose without permission. “I didn’t come through the building; I walked around it,” I tried to put her at ease. Her eyes widened. I bet she was thinking, So the figure sneaking past the alligators, frightening people out of their cubicles was you!? I wanted to say something that started with “In Africa we …” but instead I said inwardly, “I guess Bill and I both got off track a little, didn’t we?”