Saturday, April 28, 2012

Witnessing to the Jehovah's Witnesses

It was a Monday morning in the middle of July, and I was baking cookies.  I don't think I had a particular reason to bake them, except that I wanted to have cookies around.  And I was baking them in the morning because it was one of the hottest weeks of the year, and to have the oven on in the afternoon would be more uncomfortable than the cookies would be delicious.

I was still wearing my pajamas, and Elise was acting up, because she's a baby, and babies act up.  And the oven was going off and she was complaining and I was raising my voice and out of nowhere, the doorbell rang.  Oh, and those pajamas I mentioned 2 sentences ago?  Summer pajamas.  Okay for your family to see, not really okay for anybody else to see.

So I scurried to the other side of the house to dig out my robe; all the while, Elise continued to cry.  The doorbell rang again.  "I'm coming!" I shouted in frustration.  I hastily threw on my robe, observed my unkempt hair and tired face in the mirror, and opened the front door to see two smiling, nicely-dressed women, who wanted to share "God's message" with me.

Needless to say, our first encounter didn't last long.  I took their pamphlets, bid them well, shut the door, and paged through the material, observing all the heretical and nonsensical teachings therein.  It figures! I thought.  Tired, hot, undressed, frustrated, and who comes a-knockin'?  A couple Jehovah's Witnesses!

At that time, I knew very little about the JW's (I'll refer to them that way for brevity's sake), except that they weren't actually Christian (they deny Jesus is God), they don't celebrate birthdays or holidays, and they don't accept blood transfusions. 

They came back every month or so, or rather, one of the women did (Peggy); she always brought a different "sister" along.  After going through the motions of a minute or two of small talk and then chucking the pamphlets in the trash after they left a few times, I decided to start reading up on them, in the hopes that I might understand how better to reach them myself.  I reasoned that these are well-intentioned, earnest people who love God and want to do His will, yet they have fallen in with a cult that has brainwashed them into believing doctrines that are entirely pernicious and unChristian.  Why should they do all the talking?  I believe with my entire heart and soul that true Christianity teaches the divinity of Christ (and the Holy Spirit), the immortality of the soul, the bodily Resurrection, the hope of living eternal life in union with God Himself...I could go on and on.  I realized that these women would not have been on my doorstep if God had not willed it to be so.  The opportunity to share my faith was literally knocking on my door.

So I read.  I learned about the history of the Watchtower organization, their false prophecies, their twisted interpretations of Scripture and their controlling structure.  To my frustration, each time Peggy came by, there was one reason or another I couldn't talk with her -- one time, I was in the middle of cooking Elise's lunch; a couple months ago, I was spending a very rare afternoon shopping while Colin watched Elise.  The week before Easter, I came home from an outing to find an invitation to the annual "Commemoration of Jesus' Death" held at the local Kingdom Hall.  Blast, I thought, I've missed her again!

Then, last Tuesday, I was hanging out with Elise during the morning, piddling around doing this chore and that, wearing my jammies and robe.  A few minutes before ten, the doorbell rang.  I wasn't expecting any UPS packages or visitors.  So I prayed to the Holy Spirit and answered the door with a smile.  (I don't include that detail to sound holier-than-thou.  We all need the Holy Spirit to have any hope of evangelizing; I'm just thankful that my poor bum self actually remembered to ask for help this time.)  Of course, it was Peggy -- alone this time.

She handed me the typical monthly publications ("The Watchtower," which focuses on JW's teachings of faith, and the mostly-innocuous "Awake!", which contains articles on how to live your daily life).  She asked me if I had any questions.  So I asked if the JW's believe in the Resurrection.

Peggy told me they do, which is technically false, since they deny the bodily Resurrection.  But she warned me that Easter is a holiday with "pagan origins," pointing out the etymology of Easter is related to the pagan fertility goddess "Ishtar" (which it's not).  I couldn't remember all the details of why this isn't true, but I remembered enough to remind her that in many other languages, the name for the Easter feast is related to Passover (like "Pasqua" in Italian).  She seemed surprised by the answer.

By then, I realized that not only was Peggy on my doorstep, but my landlords were milling around the yard, looking at the trees they'd planted a few years ago, and my still-pajama'd daughter was playing outside with a stick she'd found on the stoop.  Meanwhile, I was in pajamas and a ratty old robe, I had not run a brush through my hair (my very thick hair gets some impressive bed-head), and I had no makeup on.  I was a mess.  But I honestly didn't even care (which I totally attribute to God's help, because typically I would have been beyond mortified and irritated).

I pressed on.  "Do you believe Jesus is God?" I asked, already knowing the answer.  "No," she replied with a smile.  "We believe He is God's Son."  (So do we: Trinity, yo!)  But then she went on to say that Jesus was God's first creation, which I emphatically denied.  She showed me a few Scriptural passages in an effort to back up her claims.  I asked her if she'd like to come in and talk about them.  She said she didn't have time then, but she offered to come back.  We decided to meet again on Thursday to discuss the Trinity specifically.

She did come back.  We had an almost two-hour discussion last Thursday, and this past Thursday, she came back for almost two more hours.  Behind the scenes, I spent a possibly embarrassing number of hours reading even more about the teachings of the Watchtower Society, the proof-texts Witnesses are taught to use when attacking true Christian teachings (which, of course, they consider false), and Scriptural passages and explanations to use when evangelizing to the Witnesses.  I had many pages of notes.

Are you breathlessly awaiting the outcome of our meetings?  Well, so am I, and frankly, I'll probably never know.  We went back and forth the whole time for both sessions; she ceded no ground, even when confronted with Scriptural passages which were obviously contrary to JW beliefs.  The Watchtower Organization works as a cult: Witnesses are never allowed to question, and risk being shunned ("disfellowshiped") by family and friends if they do.  So I'm not surprised that Peggy didn't suddenly abandon her beliefs -- even someone who hasn't been brainwashed is unlikely to do that!

But I do believe the Holy Spirit planted a seed, and I believe the time I invested in learning about the JW's and praying for guidance was worthwhile.  I'm going to start a series of posts highlighting some of the best resources I've found and some of the specific lines of questioning that I thought were most fruitful.  I hope that these posts are helpful to anyone who feels called to provide an authentic Christian witness to the Witnesses.

9 comments:

  1. Well I certainly appreciate all the effort you're putting into preparing your witness; that says a lot about you. As one of Jehovah's Witnesses myself, we find most people today apathetic about these issues more than anything.

    I'll just say as a caution that even in Jesus' day his enemies were many and they spread much biased and distorted information about him and his actual teachings. So it may be wise to keep that in mind when you're learning about us. I've personally seen not only quotes taken almost entirely out of context from our publications, but even altered.

    That being said, if you're so inclined, I'd be interested in seeing an example of a scriptural passage that is obviously contrary to our beliefs. I certainly don't want to believe anything that the Bible doesn't teach. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, TJ! I'm grateful to have your voice in the discussion. It is never my intention to distort any information about Jehovah's Witnesses. My only interest is in the truth. I have tried to stick to original sources (direct from the Watchtower Society) as much as possible in doing my research. I hope you find this series worthwhile.

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  2. Well I certainly appreciate all the effort you're putting into preparing your witness; that says a lot about you. As one of Jehovah's Witnesses myself, we find most people today apathetic about these issues more than anything.

    I'll just say as a caution that even in Jesus' day his enemies were many and they spread much biased and distorted information about him and his actual teachings. So it may be wise to keep that in mind when you're learning about us. I've personally seen not only quotes taken almost entirely out of context from our publications, but even altered.

    That being said, if you're so inclined, I'd be interested in seeing an example of a scriptural passage that is obviously contrary to our beliefs. I certainly don't want to believe anything that the Bible doesn't teach. Thanks!

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  3. Jehovah's Witnesses proselytizing is a false Gospel. (Gal. 1:8)

    Straight up doctrinal facts on Jehovah Witness.
    The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach preach that Jesus had his return aka second coming October 1914,then they spin all sorts of doctrinal embellishments on that date with 1918 being their appointment by Jesus as sole heirs of this 1914 Kingdom coming.
    They have infighting,crime and child abuse as bad as any church out there.
    Have a deadly dogma prohibiting whole blood transfusion but use cow’s blood calling it *Hemopure*.

    They teach only 144,000 go to heaven,on and on and on with made up man made dogmas……JW are a spin-off of the second adventist and have this in common with the SDA.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses promotion of their Watchtower sect has the net effect of stumbling and turning people off to the real Gospel.
    Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte; and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15)
    -
    Danny Haszard born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness
    www.dannyhaszard.com
    *Tell the truth don't be afraid*

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    1. I am deeply sorry for all of the pain you have gone through. May you find peace in the Prince of Peace and the Truth!

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  4. It seems as though this blog has stirred up a few JWs! I comend you and I imagine the holy spirit worked through you whether it's something she discovers now or 20 years from now. As a religion major, I took plenty of classes on them and the church of latter day saints. The leader of girl's bible study was LDS in college and it took her years of therapy to overcome the brainwash she experienced. Thank you for sharing this story, I really enjoyed reading it!

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    1. Interesting! Those classes sound fascinating, and hearing about them makes me wish even more that I could just be a professional student my whole life. I have never been visited at home by any LDS missionaries, but a group of young LDS men used to stop in the Dunkin Donuts where I worked the summer before I started college, and one of them took a shine to me and would ask about me when I wasn't working. I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

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  5. Louise, you are truly one amazing gal! I wish I had the Biblical knowledge that you do to testify like that and to sit and have a conversation with a JW, or anyone who feels so strongly as she did. I really commend you and admire!

    I'm also so thankful that you've been praying for Jim. He is getting closer and closer to being out of a coma--when the doctor sees him in a few weeks, he'll have to respond to 8 different commands and if he does then he will be declared as out of his coma!! Their family is very positive about it and feel like that will happen for sure. As for donations, if you check out this page:http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jimmuth/journal and scroll to the Spaghetti Dinner post on April 23 it gives you donation information (I wouldn't do the one on the sidebar because I don't know if that goes directly to them). And I'm not quite sure about mail, but if you really would like to send him some mail, you can mail it to me and I can make sure he and his family get it. Just shoot me an email :) perfectly.imperfect.holly@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Holly! I have plenty more learning to do!
      I'm very happy to hear that Jim is progressing so well. I cannot imagine how difficult this has been for his family and friends, but what a joy to know that he is doing so much better! Thank you for the donation information; I was just wondering about mail in case there was no way to donate online.

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