Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hanging with the J-Dubs

Last summer, my doorbell rang. I opened it, and there stood a woman and a man.

She introduced herself as Diane, and the gentleman with her was her son (whose name escapes me). I think the first thing she asked me what was going to happen to the earth at the end of time.

I said, "Hmm. The Bible says that this world will pass away, and there'll be a new Heaven and a new Earth. I'm not sure if that means everything will be brand new or what 'passing away' looks like. I'm not super concerned. God's got it under control." She then engaged me in a conversation about living in the new heaven and earth.

The conversation didn't last much longer, but they left me with some literature to read over. It wasn't until I started looking through the materials that I realized they were—

*bum bum BAAAAAAAAH*

Jehovah's Witnesses.

Now, I've read books and taken classes on what other faiths and sects (and cults) believe. But when these people are standing right in front of you, it's hard to remember who believes what and what you're supposed to say.

Diane came back to my door a few more times, and—honestly—I hid. Straight up ducked and covered. Hid in the dark. Didn't answer the door. I felt guilty, and I could just see God shaking his head at me with a, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. I raised you better than that, Rachel."

But one day, I couldn't hide.

Diane and another woman happened to pull up as I was getting my son in the car to go to the grocery store. I couldn't very well ignore them. I may be chicken, but I'm not rude. We talked for just a moment, and then I did the unthinkable: I made an appointment with them. The following Monday at 10 a.m., Diane and another woman were going to come over and talk to me.

And I was going to be prepared.

I met with a pastor friend of mine. We talked thoroughly about what JWs believe about God, Jesus—the works. How to refute these things with Scripture. All of them. I was ready for battle.

Sooner than I anticipated, the day came. The doorbell rang. I knew who it was. I'd spent all morning reviewing my notes. I let them in. They sat down.

And I was utterly unprepared for what I felt.

In that moment, as I was ready to take them down in a hail of Scripture, God spoke into my heart. He said, "I love these women, too, Rachel." While my mind was prepared for a ruthless argument, God wanted me to show them love.

Interesting.

What was more interesting was their first question. They had me read an excerpt in one of their pamphlets that talked about the name "Jehovah." Not something I studied, honestly. Not something that occurred to me as important. I had not thought about this issue for one second. Not. One. Second.

All of my carefully prepared arguments? Useless.

So I prayed. I asked God to give me the words so I could say what they needed to hear. Diane explained to me that Jehovah was the English translation of the Hebrew name for God: YHWH (it was even printed in the literature like that). Which leads us to:

****************

A Short Play By Rachel: Lost in Translation

DIANE has just had RACHEL read an excerpt from a Watchtower brochure that mentions the "unpronounceable" name of God.

RACHEL:   Oh. You mean Yahweh? In the Hebrew?

DIANE:      Oh. You know that name for God?

RACHEL:   Well, yes.

DIANE:      So that is the personal name of God, and Jehovah is how it is translated into English. Do you know what's important about knowing God's personal name?

RACHEL:   Knowing his name helps us to build relationship with him. It's easier to talk to him when we know his name. We feel closer to him. But—one thing...

DIANE:      Yes?

RACHEL:   Why would I call God by a translated name when I can just say Yahweh?

DIANE:      (stating the obvious) Because it's in English. We speak English, so we'd use his English name.

RACHEL:   Yes, but I've been to several countries, and in those countries, I'm still Rachel. They don't translate my name into something else. In Italy, I was Rachel. In China, I was Rachel. Anywhere I go, people will try to call me by my given name, not translate it. God's name is the same, too. I mean, if Jesus came up to me and introduced himself, he'd probably call himself Jeshua. That was his given name, not Jesus.

DIANE:      (a bit shocked) And you'd call him that? You'd call him Jeshua?

RACHEL:   (jovially) Well, that's his name! If that's how he introduced himself, of course that's what I'd call him. You call me Rachel, don't you? Because that's how I introduced myself to you. Besides, I think the important thing is that we talk to God at all. He doesn't care if we call him God or Lord or Jeshua or Yahweh. As long as we're calling out to him.

DIANE pauses thoughtfully for a moment. Then:

DIANE:      Are you in a Bible study? Do you go to church?

RACHEL:   Yes, I go to [that church over there]. We're studying Nehemiah right now. And I'm in a Bible study, too. We're studying Galatians.

DIANE:      Oh.

END SCENE.



****************


I'm not sure why the conversation ended so quickly after that. Do they only want to talk to people who have little or no scripture knowledge? Possibly. I can't claim to know. But I gave her my phone number—my phone number, people—and told her she was welcome in my home anytime; she just had to give me a call.

I've never heard from her again.

But you know what? That's OK. I did just what God asked of me. I was gentle. I was reasonable. I wasn't defensive, and I didn't attack them or their beliefs. There was no need to come out with guns blazing. In that moment, God reminded me of the love he has for those two women and that it was important that I speak the truth in love.

When you come across someone who doesn't believe the same things as you, remember that God loves them. He wants them to know who he is, just like he wants you to know who he is. He wants everyone to come to repentance—everyone has the same chance to be saved, and their chances only increase when you show them the love and grace that God's shown you. No one was ever saved by cruelty, mocking, or judgement.

I still pray for Diane. I saw her in the grocery store the other day, but she didn't look in my direction. I'm still waiting for that phone call...

20 comments:

  1. I always have a hard time knowing what to say when it comes to these conversations, sounds like you handled it well.
    Not to hit "post comment" and see if the word verification comes up ;)...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, Rachel. This is beautiful! And it is so loving and gentle and kind. What an incredible picture of following the prompting of God's spirit in conversation. That's some pretty hefty love lived out.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the way this was written and the message it conveys! God's word does not go forth and return to Him void...I know that the words you spoke, which came from the heart of God, penetrated her so deeply, she probably doesn't know what to do with them. Praying that God's words will prosper where it was sent, right into her heart!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Rachel - I had a similar experience several years ago. Honestly, it's been so long I can't remember the woman's name any more. That makes me sad. She would visit every Tuesday and we would talk and visit. Eventually I asked her to go out for coffee with me. I decided we needed to move on to being friends. Really we'd spent enough time talking, that seemed like the next logical step. So, I gave her my phone number, said let's do coffee at X time at X place. She never came back. Or called.

    Maybe they don't get training on how to be friendly, just how to evangelize? Oh well. I was sad. And felt like I might've missed out on a great friend and learning more about the world and getting along with people who don't think the same things I do.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this, Rachel! Because God's love never fails. And I think that took Diane by surprise. You've given her lots of food for thought, and I believe God is drawing her to Himself.

    I won't be the least bit surprised when she calls you back. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. P.S.
    I'm reading "The Help" right now--my entire book club is. WHAT a book!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is fantastic. Truly leaving the Holy Spirit to lead. We could all use a good dose of that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a testimony you have! I just know you planted a seed Rachel and someone else will water and God will be the sunshine to help nourish her spirit for her to call on Him! I'm working in a place right now where a lot of people don't believe the same things I do about how to conduct business. Sometimes it makes me down right sad and last night I went home in tears because of the way our customers and fellow staff members are being treated. Your your posting gave me new strength to go out there and 'just love them' the way He does. Thanks for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Funny that there is a similar theme in your post and mine for today!

    I don't know that I've ever heard of a JW backing off. That just might be an actual miracle.

    I love that you opened your heart and mind to what God wanted you to receive and give!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very timely post. I have had a JW coming by once a week. I won't lie. I have dreaded those visits. Mainly because I don't like confrontation and I know there will come a point when I have to counter with my own beliefs. Like when the Jesus really is God discussion comes up. Up until now it has been pretty basic God is good, why does God allow suffering, and the YHWH discussion which went very similarly to the one you had.
    Yesterday was the scheduled day for the weekly visit and I was dreading it all day. Mostly because I was tired and had a headache. I didn't want to have to think. She never came. I felt ashamed for being so relieved. Because as you said God loves them too. He had His reasons for sending her to my doorstep. My husband keeps asking me why I don't just ask them to stop coming. I just don't see that as being a very Christian response.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have the same feelings. They are also daughters of God and are doing what they feel to be right. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and I served an 18 month mission in Minnesota where people were for the most part very nice but every so often someone would feel it necessary to be rude. However, when someone told us no. The answer was no. At least for me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is something to be proud of - how you handled yourself. I like so many others hide. I answer the door the first time, politely say that I'm not interested in learning about their religion but then hide myself and the kids if they come back. I saw you over at Nancy's place. I've joined to follow.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I hope she remembers the words you shared.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I've always thought that Yahweh was peaceful and calm, like God wants me to be.

    ReplyDelete
  15. First of all, I love how confident you are in your faith. I was raised in a baptist church and would like to return to a church someday, especially since I have children now, but taking that step has been hard for us.

    There were a couple of JW's who used to come to my door. I can't turn someone away who wants to read scripture to me. But I don't have enough knowledge or confidence to carry on a conversation about it. And you're right -- that's exactly who they are looking for so that they can pull them into their belief. Anyway, they kept coming, and I told them I wasn't interested in future visits, but still they came. I couldn't be rude. But one day they came when my husband was home, and he opened the door and before they could get a word in, he said, "Now's not a good time." And all but slammed it in their faces. They never came back, which kind of surprises me, because I'm sure they now think I am some little woman living with a dictator of a husband! So not the truth. He just knew I didn't want to speak to them, so he handled it the man way.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for sharing your story, Rachel! What a blessing she decided to end the conversation - I have not had that experience! My "friends" here keep shifting to one scripture to the next in trying to convince me, or returning to my home with more "evidence." But it has been wonderful in owning what I believe, and the glory of the Trinity! What a God we have! 1Peter 3:15 has been close to my heart in these interactions.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That was such a cool response, Rachel! It's so important to remember truth in love. I've never had JWs at my door, though I remember my Mom talking to some when I was growing up. A few years ago I had a JW and her husband as a hospice patient and that led to some very interesting conversations. When she died, I felt so utterly sad for her and her family, that they didn't have the same hope because their beliefs colored her death greatly.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Beautiful story! I love how you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and respond with God's love to the lady.God's love and kindness shine through in your writing. I will remember this the next time they come knocking at my door - that God loves them too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a powerful story. Thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This was great! I totally agree with you. I have read several books about what Jehovah's Witnesses believe, what Mormons believe, etc. It is good to have such knowledge, but to use it gently, as you did. The thing I always remember is that Christians believe John 1:1 was "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God...". We, of course, believe the Word to stand for Jesus. JW's say "and the Word was A God." Well, it's them or the Mormons. Sometimes, I'm not sure. Either way, that is not the orthodox Christian take on the verse and, when I bring that up, usually the conversation ends soon thereafter. I'm not just a sponge that will soak up all they want to tell me. My sponge is sort of full on that front already. :)

    ReplyDelete

I wrote the thing. You read the thing. Don't be too lazy to comment!