Just Lacking a Few Duck Stragglers
I'm Pulling up the Rose Bushes

Help Me Out on a Call

A sister placed magazines with a college kid, conversed a while, and he said she could call back. His father, however, would not likely be welcoming, he said.
 
She gave the call to me. I made it. He was not home. His father was, and the son had been right. The father was not welcoming. Neither did he tell me to get lost. Well – he did, but it was not in the ordering sort of tone, and I said I had not been looking for him anyway, but his son. He was the family head, and I told him I would not try to sneak around him, but did he mind if I called again on his son? The kid was smart, I told the old man, and that must mean his parents are smart. He said his son was his own person, and if he wanted to speak with me again, that was up to him.
 
I called again. The son, of course, was not home. The unwelcoming dad was. He was in a wheelchair, as he had been the first time. One bumper sticker on the family car read “Born right the first time.” The other said: “There are death squads in America; they’re called insurance companies.” I think we overdo our advice to take cues from bumper stickers, but this time the Ten Commandments could not have told me more. All that remains is to fill in a few blanks.
 
Sometimes I open with Job 34:10 – “it is unthinkable for the true God to act wickedly.” I like the verse, I told him, because some people think he does act wickedly. And some see all the nasty things going down and say: “I don’t think there is a true God.” It plays into the theme of why there is suffering, I told the fellow.
 
He wasn’t nice. I made clear that the instant he told me to go away, I would. We were conversing through the storm door, which added a measure of challenge. I almost reached to open it, for it was awkward for him to do so, but I decided it would be a bit much. He laughed derisively at my Bible verse. “You’re here because you want to tell me about suffering?” he shot back from his wheelchair. I answered: “No. I want you to tell me. I don’t have to talk at all. I want you to invite me in and tell me.”
 
I said: “Look – everyone has a story, but no one wants to hear it. So I will,. I've got the time.” He’ll never see me again anyway – what does he have to lose? I told him. He answered sarcastically that he could never get over the Christians’ “need” to “save” people. Look, he said, he was one of the 5% who are atheist. “Yeah – I’m here to change that,” I answered. This is far more blunt than I would ever be ordinarily, but I decided I would answer him in kind. It was not even true, really, or at least it was not a goal I realistically held. I also told him that he was right – we are Christian, and it is a bit much that we should appear out of thin air, but that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a league of their own.
 
He responded by saying his number one man from his working days had been a Witness, and that he had been the nicest, most reliable fellow in the world. “Yeah, we’re all nice,” I said. “You think I’m nice? Wait to you get a load of Clyde,” I motioned to the brother behind me, who could barely make out through the door what the man was saying. His praise for the brother he once supervised at work didn’t yield me as much ground as might be expected. After two or three more minutes maneuvering, I told him that while I would like to know more, one can only go far, and we would take our leave. He didn’t cry over the prospect, but had never taken the bait of saying I should go.
 
I am not sure what to do. I will let it go, probably. One more call in a few months to see if anything has moved, and then I am done. Maybe before, but I have no plans at the present. Any advice?
 
768px-Castle-gruyeres-wheelchair-5
 
photo: castle-greyeres-wheelchair

Comments

Dave

Sounds like your public might be a bit stumped by that one Tom. Or at least they're not saying anything about it.
Anyway, it's a common dilemma. I'd just be thankful I had a nice chat. Don't s'pose you ever found his son again? Funny, I met a guy recently who started off a bit defensive but softened when I answered his taunt mildly and reasonably. Ended up having a nice chat but he said he had his own religion, which was clear from his initial line of questioning. I like to leave it on a positive note wherever possible so the next witness who calls doesn't get a hard time. There's at least a little satisfaction in that.

Renee Labrenz

Hey Tom. You asked for advice. Instead, I'll share my favorite field service experience which took place in Wolverhampton, England.
I was visiting the Sunday meeting (~2000) and an elderly sister named Babs had befriended me earlier. When I entered the lobby, before the meeting began, she welcomed me and introduced me to her most recent progressive Bible student, David, a 275 pound red-haired, red-bearded Irishman (Babs is an 84-year old, 4"11", 90 pounder.). As Babs walked away to greet others, David said, "If I make it through to the other side, I'm going to build that woman a throne of gold." When I asked "Why?" he told me the story.
In England at the time, the witnesses only carry the Bible to the door and they work their territory in Wolverhampton every 2 weeks. Babs knocked on his yellow door and never spoke a word. He opened the door and slammed it hard. Two weeks later she was back, Bible in hand, and David slammed the door again. This went on for 3 months. Then, when Babe appeared, David would scream at her #@@@#%%# and then slam the door. About this time she told the other friends that this was her call and they would be across the street or in the car watching Babs make her call, with great interest. "Was she getting a little dotty?" they wondered.
After three months of screaming and swearing, David opened the door to this sweet, white-haired, grandmotherly woman and asked, "Why do you keep coming here, woman?"
Babs smiled and explained, "Well, I knew that you had a lot of feelings about either the Bible and/or religion. I knew the feelings you expressed weren't personal, towards me because you don't know me. And I knew that I wasn't a threat to you, because look at me and look at you. Then when you started to speak to me, I realized you were Irish, and that your deep feelings were probably connected to the lies you had been told. I figured you had been told that God is part of a three-headed Trinity, which is quite monstrous really, and that you'd also been told that God Is Love. How can a person love a monster? You were probably quite young when you were taught those things, so how could you reconcile these two concepts? It's enough to cause any thinking person great distress. I am here to show you two scriptures, because we like to establish facts with two witnesses. This will clear up any cause for frustration that you have over this subject." She showed him and he loved what he read. She ended with, "I've enjoyed chatting with you David. My husband and I sometime take our evening walk down this street. I do hope we come across each other again." Then she walked away.
Two weeks later she was back. "David! I've been thinking about you. I thought you might have been taught that there is a burning hellfire, and that you'd like to reconcile that idea with the fact that God Is Love."
"Yes," he hungrily agreed.
She showed him two scriptures and said, "David, I have so enjoyed this. I sometimes shop at that market across the road. Perhaps we'll see each other sometime. I hope so." Then she walked away.
Two weeks later, she was back. "I've been thinking bout you, David. I'd like to show you two scriptures that explain God's view of pedophile priests." She did and before she turned to walk away, he grabbed the sleeve of her coat.
"No!" he said. "You can't leave me. I want more." This is how she and her husband, Ken, began to study the Bible with David. So many lessons in this experience. I would have probably put him on a "do not call" list. Now here he was, finishing his study and preparing to go to NY to visit the Watchtower buildings and bring the truth to his son.
My favorite experience of all time! Love Tom Irregardless, BTW.

tom harley

the trick is to never take things personally.

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