Jehovah’s Witnesses, over much time, have built up street credibility. They do the work. They log the time. Some will hear them out on that account alone. Their course is no more remarkable to them than putting the lamp on the lampstand. “It is only because someone is “making” them do it,” detractors may say. If they say it to me, I invite them to look around and identify that person.
Not only should speaking with Jehovah’s Witnesses be permitted—one might say (with hyperbole) that it should be a requirement. Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a safe setting in which one can talk about matters that are off the grid of daily life: matters not mundane, matters spiritual. Witnesses are not out to defraud anyone. They are not out for any sordid purpose. If you tell them no, they go away.
The greater world distrusts becoming too serious about the Bible, for fear the ones so affected may run a bit crazy, forgetting completely the goals that have been laid out for them. The fear is that they may develop other goals, goals leading off the charted path. I know this because my own mother was advised by one of her friends, the mom of my peer, “Get him out of there!” when I was expressing interest in Bible study with the Witnesses. The peer and I were not that close. I don’t know what became of him. However, I have since run across some peers who were close and I do not regret at all where life has taken me versus they.
It is a parent’s worst fear that his or her youngster may be drawn into something radical, something that purports to offer answers to questions that they, the parents, have not figured out and have come to expect no more, even supposing it dangerous to pursue such answers. Have they given up on exploring deep questions of life such as Why is there suffering? What is the overall purpose of life? What happens at death? What is the nature of God? They may reason, Is it not necessary to give up on such nebulous things so as to devote oneself to the practical matters of life? But they are unsure that their offspring will likewise give up, for they themselves at one time did not.
Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a safe setting to explore unconventional ideas with regular people. The worst you can do is to get stuck with somebody awkward or boorish. This can happen, as they are just regular people. But even at their worst, they want nothing from anyone. They are not out “recruiting,” or if they are it is an outcome so far removed as to be a non-factor. Sometimes, when I am speaking with persons concerned about this, I will say: “If it helps, let us both agree that there is no way on God’s green earth that you are going to become a Witness. You know it. I know it. So we can take it off the table.”
Converting is so extraordinarily improbable with any given person—it would take up to a year of discussion were one to join up—that no Witness seriously entertains that prospect in their ordinary contacts. One cannot participate in a Bible discussion without knowing something of the Bible, and Witness visits are made solely with that immediate goal.
One can get stuck with a pest. But one will never get stuck with a menace. At worst it will be someone overeager for a cause and imperceptive. The news is good news, not bad news, and so the temptation is to over-present. Even so, it will be good training for a teen on how to deal with the tangle that is humanity today. It represents “training wheels” for later in life when one will run across scoundrels who are up to no good and one may not know just how to deal with them. Having briefly conversed with an adolescent who was the sole person at home, I took my leave and headed down the driveway. The boy’s mother pulled up in her car. I told her that I had asked a brief question to her child and he had answered intelligently. “You should be proud of him,” I said.
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