What would you do if someone attended your church service, sat through it quietly, and at the end singled you out to share with you that your pastor and your particular church are teaching false doctrine and have a history of setting dates for the end of the world? Would you be interested in what that person had to say? Would you be interested in seeing actual documentation that proves that person’s point? In short, would you be interested in the truth, enough so that you would spend any amount of time necessary to talk about doctrine and look over that documentation?
I sure hope you would, and I know I would. But what about the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s)? Are they interested in the truth? Are they interested in spending whatever amount of time necessary with Christians who are ready to get into the Bible to prove the point that what JW’s believe about Jesus is false? Further, are they interested in looking at the false predictions of their leadership that the end of the world was coming on a particular date? In 15 years of outreach to JW’s, I have not encountered one of them who was interested enough to go the extra mile. Recent missions trips to one Kingdom Hall (where JW’s meet) serve as an example.
I and SDM Board member, George Jackman, spent three consecutive Thursday evenings visiting a local Kingdom Hall. Thursdays are “Book Study” nights, where JW’s study one of their books. At the end of the meeting we shared the biblical Jesus with two men, showing them Bible verses from their own translation that contradicted what they presently believe. Both men reacted graciously, stating that they would do the necessary research and have answers for us the next week.
When George and I returned the next week, the two men were not there, due to scheduling problems. Nonetheless, we attended the meeting, praying that the Lord would bring to us more JW’s with whom to share. At the end of that meeting, a woman came up and introduced herself. After a few moments of introductory conversation, I asked her if she would read a Bible verse from her own translation that shows that Jesus is God the Son. “No, I’m not interested!” she replied. I encouraged her to read the verse, but to no avail. She made a few remarks about once being a Southern Baptist and never understanding the Trinity, and then turned around and left.
At that moment another man walked up to us to introduce himself. When the meeting first started I guessed that this man was not yet a JW, and that he was being indoctrinated with JW teachings. After a few pleasantries I asked him if he would read some documented statements where JW leadership claimed the position of Jehovah’s “prophet” and predicted the end of the world. “I’m not interested,” he said, and left. Immediately, another man came up to us. He was the one who led the Book Study. When I asked him the same question, he decided to look at the documentation, but was not convinced. I further shared with him some Bible verses proving the deity of Christ, but he was not interested in looking at them. During the ride home, George and I talked about “the wall” that seemed to be erected on this return visit. We wondered if “word had gotten ’round” about us.
Perhaps the third (and final) visit was proof enough that it had. When George and I returned the third week, we prayed that the two men we had encountered the first week would be there. They were. I had come prepared with further documentation of JW leadership’s claim to be a prophet. These statements posed even stronger evidence of this claim. When the Book Study leader whom we had talked with the week before walked by us, I greeted him and asked him to look at this new documentation. He simply refused to do so and told us that we were not allowed to share any of our “opinions” with anyone. I decided, then, to approach one of the two men we had talked with two weeks before on our first visit (who said he would research our questions). I told him of the Book Study leader’s rules, but he still decided to quickly show me what he had found. Unfortunately, his answers did not address my questions! He had in the past two weeks convinced himself that I had asked different questions than what I actually had asked! And he as well was not interested to pursue my questions any further.
Finally, I approached the other man we met the first week and asked him if he had answers for me. He told me flatly that he was not interested in talking with me. George and I then left the Kingdom Hall and prayed for these people during the ride home.
This experience leaves me with two questions. One concerns JW’s and the other concerns Christians. First, why are JW’s hesitant to go the extra mile—in our case to pursue us and be willing to spend any amount of time with us to show us the truth? Second, and this brings us to the first paragraph above, would we Christians go the extra mile with someone who challenged our beliefs?