In Defense of Shunning
Isaac Asimov and Ignaz Semmelweis

The Communist and the Kids

I called on a old fellow in the door to door ministry who said he was a Communist. He wasn't especially pleasant, but he was genuine, and unique. Didn't the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites disprove Communism as a viable system? I asked. (It had only recently happened) No, because Communism was imposed by force upon a agrarian country. It wasn't the revolt of the proletariat, such as one might have foreseen in the U.S. at one time.

He had a house full of antique inventions, among them an Edison phonograph.

I homeschooled my daughter then. A few weeks later I had her out with me in the ministry. She was about 9 or 10. I stopped in on the Communist.

"So how's the discipling going?" he asked (or something similar). "Just fine," I replied. "I'm sorry to hear it," he said. Had I not left myself wide open?

"So what do you want?" he demanded, more gruff than even his prior gruffness. Just as gruff, I shot back "I came to show my daughter your antiques!" He opened the door, let us both in, gave us a tour, explained the different machines, and could not have been more pleasant! How often does a child get to see such old gadgets?

Kids are useful in the ministry. Of course, we don't "use" them. You don't bring them along unless they're ready to come, and you don't let them speak unless they want to. But in my experience, they usually want to. Joel Engardio, producer of the documentary Knocking was raised a Witness but left for a career in journalism. Nonetheless, he assures us, as a kid he was the designated doorbell-ringer, a "cool job for a 4 year old." As a teenager, he continues, "I gave presentations at doorsteps around town in hopes of becoming a "publisher," or minister, of the Bible. I found fulfillment in telling others - anyone who cared to listen -that all of mankind's plagues would be solved when God's kingdom arrived." So there is something to training children in the ministry, when (and if) they are ready.

My kids, as with Joel, wanted to speak at a quite young age, so I obliged. But it seemed that I ought to introduce them. After all, when I approached a house with a waist-high child, and it was the child that did the talking,  I always imagined the householder looking at me as if to say "you dumb lug....why don't you say something?" And frankly, you'd want to screen householders.  Not all are the warm fuzzy kind that you'd want to feed your kids. So I'd say something like: "Hi, I'm Tom Sheepandgoats. I've got my boy with me, Georgie. We take turns talking's his turn." That was my son's cue. As long as he was willing and able to handle matters, I would stay silent. The householder might listen to him, but answer me, and I'd say "'s his turn." All this within the bounds of common sense, of course. In most cases, towards the end, I would chime in somehow. As the kids got older and more capable, they got tired of being introduced, it became unnecessary, and I chimed in less and less.

My kids are grown and gone now. I just got done working with Jakie, a 6 year old. Someone else's son, it seems to me he was bashful at age 4. He sure isn't now. Distributing invitations for the upcoming district convention, he would have none of "being introduced." So I said he could introduce me! Either that, or just take the door himself. He did every door, except 3 or 4 that were a little awkward, and so I took them. In some cases I'd tell the householder "I'm far too bashful to talk to you right here at your door, so I brought my buddy here to speak for me!" He did just fine. Most youngsters do when they can go at their own pace.


"Is that your son?" the homeowner asked Dave McClure, our old circuit overseer, about a youngster he was working with. "Nope," he replied. "But if it was, I'd be proud of him."




Tom Irregardless and Me             No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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The little kid thing does seem kind of awkward some times, but then again when somebody comes to your door unexpectedly to talk about religion, very few people really know how to react comfortably. I must confess that without knowing the background the use of children does seem a little manipulative, however I recognize it now as part of the child’s learning process in growing as a Jehovah’s Witness. The most similar thing I can think off in an LDS sense is Fast and Testimony meeting. The first Sunday of each month is devoted to ‘Fast and Testimony Meeting’ in LDS Sacrament services (our primary Sunday service). On that day members fast for from 2-3 meals and give the money they theoretically would have spent on food to a Church program to feed the hungry (we are encouraged to imagine we had really good and large theoretical meals that day). During Sunday services members can come up to the pulpit and share there testimonies about the gospel to the congregation. When little children come up they typically get real shy and a parent will whisper simply sayings such as “I know Jesus loves me” to them, which they will then repeat in that awkward but sincere way little children have. As a child my parents never took me up there, so as a result I didnt go up myself until my late teen’s. Having childhood guidance in such religious witnessing doubtless makes it easer to do when you get older, as witnessed by your examples.


Some of my fondest memories were of going with my Dad out in the ministry. I miss that.


That brings back a lot of memories for me also.


"Is that your son?" the homeowner asked Dave McClure, our old circuit overseer, about a youngster he was working with. "Nope," he replied. "But if it was, I'd be proud of him."

I raised my kids before becoming one of Jehovah's witnesses but there are a half-dozen young ones I get to work with from time to time (as their parents allow / as the kids request) and yes, the above words are true. There is one young boy, in particular, who likes to ride in my beat-up old pickup truck with no heat and 'iffy' shocks. He has his own service bag and is responsible for placing tracts in the doors of absent homeowners. At age 6, he can't place them real high ... but he never misses a door and he can, when he stands on 'tippy toes' place them high enough for the householder to find.

How many kids -outside- the organization even know what they believe, much less have a clue how to present & defend it? Not many, I would guess. And they are almost all 'Witness kids'.

So, here's to Josh & Jaden, Kaila, Kayla, Kyra, Jalen and all the other ones who inject warmth into a cold January morning of knocking on the doors of the disinterested, disheartened and distressed in our neighborhood.

And here's to their Moms & Dads who, never far away, allow an older man the joy of working alongside some of Jehovah's most sincere servants.


I remember the first time I "feigned" ringing a bell but didnt actually do it when I was out in service with - I think the P.O. back then..
My mother was somewhere around, I always tried to leave her when I went out in service.

The funny thing is, I loved/love talking to people at the doors, I was just hungry and wanted to leave! ;-)
I also equally remember getting a well-deserved look-of-destruction-promising-a-beating and I think later the beating, from my mother when at the end of a territory, I heard one of the brothers say, "I think that's it" and I exclaimed with glee..." YESS!!! Now we can go!"
All this to say.. when we go out in the ministry as children,.. We're still children.. But I cherish every moment I had back in those days.
The funny thing is, now I'm the only one who is active in my family as a Witness, though I gave the most trouble as far as staying out back then. Yet I know my sisters value the training we had in speaking to people in public, because it carries over to every part of life..
Social interactions, job interviews, job retention, self-expression and a host of other situations that with the ability to believe what you stand on through research and study and then to sound forth that message to strangers at their doorstep, it then kind of makes talking to people in other settings, a piece of cake!

Here's to my fellow brothers and sisters, and the little ones who are continuing in the work!!!

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