April 1, 56 A.D.
The Reverend Paul, Apostle
Dear Reverend Paul,
We recently received an application from you for service under our board. We have made an exhaustive survey of your case and, frankly, we are surprised that you have been able to pass yourself off as a bona-fide missionary.
In the first place, we are told that you are afflicted with severe eye trouble. This is almost certain to be an insurmountable handicap to any effective ministry. We normally require 20/20 vision.
Further, is it true that you have a jail record and an alias (a.k.a. “Saul”)? Certain brethren report that you did two years’ time at Caesarea and were also imprisoned in Rome. With your history as one who persecuted Christians, how can we be sure that your testimony is genuine? How can we be certain that your Damascus road experience was not simply an illusion or something you invented for attention?
Moreover, it is reported from Ephesus that you made so much trouble for the businessmen there that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.”
We feel such sensationalism has no place in missions. Some of these businessmen, whom you have successfully alienated, have been our best financial supporters. We also deplore the “over-the-wall-in-a-basket” incident at Damascus. Why do you insist on making people mad at you? This appears to be a serious character flaw.
In one of your letters, you refer to yourself as “Paul the Aged.” Our new pension policies anticipate a surplus of elderly recipients, so retirement benefits will be limited to those who have served at least four terms. You obviously will not qualify.
Your ministry has been far too erratic to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking about a wild-goose chase into Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s limited resources.
Finally, Dr. Luke the physician reports that you are a thin little man, rather bald, frequently sick, and always uptight over your churches so that you sleep poorly. He indicates that you wander around the house praying half the night. Our ideal for all applicants is a healthy mind in a robust body. We believe that a good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip so that you wake up full of zing. A little more sleep may help.
We regret to inform you, Brother Paul, but in all our experience, we have never met a candidate so poorly qualified. You meet few if any of our mission board require-ments. If we should accept you, we would be breaking every principle of current missionary practice.
J. Flavius Noitall
Secretary, Foreign Mission Board
(Adapted, Original Source Unknown)