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*
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.
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...
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.
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...