Conversation with JWs

July 30, 2008


One benefit of being home today: a couple of young Jehovah’s Witnesses came by. In years past, I would have dialed up my “catalog of cults” to recall just what their heresies were (trying not to get them confused), and Bible verses that refute their teachings. It’s almost like the goal was to out-Bible them; if you could do that, you won!

But I am done with the “battle of Bible verses” game.

Today they came by, explaining that they had come before but found no one home. As usual, they offered me a copy of the Watchtower magazine, helpfully opened to an article that would explain something: “We’d like to give to you. Do you think you would read it?”

I replied, “Honestly? No. I would be more interested to hear your own story.”

They smiled nervously and exchanged quick glances. “What do you mean?”
I said, “Tell me about yourself. I want to hear about you.”
The leader (only one ever speaks) said, “We’re not supposed to talk about ourselves. Our job is to share this message.”
“Oh. Well you see, I don’t have any friends who are JWs. When did you become a JW, or were your born into the church?”
“I was born into the church. My mother used to be Catholic, then she became Baptist, then she became Jehovah’s Witness.”
“All right, that’s cool.” Breaking protocol, I turned to the silent partner. “What about you?”
The silent one replied, “Me too, I was born into the Truth.”

The leader tried to get back to the script: “What about you, do you have any religion?” she asked.
“I follow Jesus. Or I try to. I’ve been doing it a long time now, but I still find that each step is fresh and takes me forward to a place where it’s new all over again. It’s exciting.”

Then the leader shared something honest: “When I was a kid, I didn’t care about the important things. I mean, obviously, God is not here, right? All I did was go to the mall and hang out with my friends. But now I care about the Bible.”
“Wait a minute. What do you mean when you say, God is not here?”
“I mean, you can’t see him, so he didn’t seem real to me.”
“Oh, OK. Fair enough. Now, I assume you still go to the mall.”
“Of course!”
“And do you see God there?”
She looked puzzled. “No.”
“Really! When I go to the mall, I see God there.”
“Oh, you mean that God is everywhere.” (As I type this, I recall that JWs do not think God is omnipresent.)
“Yes, but not just that. When you go to the mall, God is there. He’s doing stuff.”
“You mean, you carry God inside of you?”
“Sort of. But one of the things Jesus said was, ‘I do nothing except what I see the Father doing.’ So we’re supposed to do the same thing. I look out and I try to see what the Father is doing — like here in our cul-de-sac. God is up to something, and I want to be part of it.”
They smiled and nodded. “Yes, that’s why we’re doing this. But don’t you agree that if everyone believed, the world would be a better place?”
“Of course! Things are broken. But everything will be made new,” I said, trying to state a belief that is important to JWs which they probably don’t hear from others. I continued, “Now, are you two friends? Do you hang out with each other?”
“Oh yes, we’ve been friends for a long time.”
“That’s great. I think that when friends hang out together, God is there.”

That was the end. “Well, thank you. It’s been nice talking with you. Have a nice day.” And they left to try out other homes in our cul-de-sac.

When I shared this with the kids, Shelly said, “That’s it, Dad — they’re never coming back.”
I agreed, “Oh, they probably put a big X next to our address on their chart.”
“Dad, you’re so mean when you’re so nice!”

Related posts: The Jehovah’s Witness Who Refused Tea

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

5 responses to Conversation with JWs

  1. “Dad, you’re so mean when you’re so nice!”
    Is that a compliment, or what?

  2. Heh, you tell me, Maria!

  3. Hi Jon-
    I smiled when I read this. By asking questions to them, you were much more effective because it made them question themselves and their beliefs. It wasn’t very comfortable for them, to be sure, but you planted a seed today.

  4. Very cool. I loved reading this. Wish I had the courage to say that much! I usually just say, “No thanks, I really wouldn’t read it. But how about I’ll pray for you, and you pray for me.” They don’t usually have anything to say after that either.

  5. Dawn, how good to get a comment from you! Unlike my past attempts at evangelism, my goal is not to get them to question anything, but just to be honest, hopeful, and full of wonder.
    Katherine, I will have to keep that in my pocket for when I am short on time. (But I suppose none will come by again for a long time.)