I had an unpleasant dream the night before our meeting and wondered if it might have something to do with my meeting with my Jehovah’s Witness friend. If you have been following this topic from the beginning, you know that I met a Jehovah’s Witness elder at the annual memorial. We have been meeting on a weekly basis since then. I dreamed that he had found out about our ministry and no longer wanted to meet. The odd thing is that my buddy has always texted me the evening before our meeting to make sure I was still able to meet, but this time, he didn’t. I texted him and received no reply. I began to wonder if my dream was coming true.
I hoped that maybe he misplaced his phone so I decided to go to our usual spot anyway. I am glad that I did. When I arrived he had already ordered coffee for himself, water for me, (I don’t drink coffee) and a dessert for each of us. I was pleasantly surprised. In about 30 seconds, I went from wondering if I was ever going to see this guy again to being treated for a mid-morning snack. He also looked happy to see me.
Like last week, we talked for an hour before he even hinted at getting into studying the book. The difference between this week and last week was that last week I think he was nervous to get into the book because of our heavy conversation regarding the Trinity the week before. This week we were engaged in good conversation about lots of things. We didn’t get into the book for an hour today because we were genuinely having a good time and enjoying our conversation. We talked about our lives, parts of our childhood and previous religious affiliations. It was a very normal and natural conversation.
When we finally did get into the book, we didn’t stick to it as rigidly as most Witnesses do. Part of that is because I refuse to answer the questions the way the book instructs. When my witness buddy asks questions, I do not take into consideration what we just read and just answer the question the way I normally would. For instance, paragraph four states, “Very likely you are interested in getting answers to life’s big questions. No doubt you sometimes wonder: ‘What is the purpose of life? Is this life all there is? What is God really like?’” The corresponding question at the bottom of the page is, “What are some of the most important questions we can ask in life, and why should we seek the answers?” I didn’t answer with the provided answer. I offered my own answer.
KW: That is a good question. I think some of the most important questions I could ask are, “Who is God and how can I make sure I am accepted by Him.”
My buddy looked at the book for the answer. He then realized my answer is not there. As he looked up, he was reflecting on my answer.
JW: Those are good questions.
KW: They are important to me.
Obviously he knows my answer is not the answer the book wants me to give, but by giving good personal answers, he can’t challenge me and declare, “Well, that’s not what the book says.” He realizes that if he objects to my responses, he will end up looking impersonal and foolish because my answers are good ones. I find that if you don’t follow the path laid out for you by the by Watchtower book, it is much easier to get the Witness to think on their own. I am modeling that by asking my own questions and providing my personal answers, which in most cases, varies greatly from the answer provided in the book. In a way, this gives him permission to follow my example. As he sees me thinking on my own and asking my own questions, he is more likely to do that himself.
Like I mentioned last week, when I witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, I do a great deal of setting up for future meetings. If the Witness mentions something that I think I can use later as a teaching opportunity, I will ask a few clarifying questions to make sure I understand what was said and then I remember it for an opportune time. It is a technique I call, “stuffing aces” as in when a card player cheats by hiding an ace up his sleeve to use later in the game. I found an ace in our conversation.
One of the personal things we talked about was the fact that, like many residents of San Antonio, English is his second language. He told me that as he was learning, he asked people to tell him if he said something wrong or misused the English language in some other way. He was not happy about the fact that people rarely helped. He is still learning, but has a very good grasp of English. I asked a question.
KW: Why do you think people were unwilling to help you?
JW: I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t want to embarrass me. As it turns out, I figured it out on my own anyway.
KW: Looking back on it, do you still wish people would have helped you or are you satisfied with how you figured it out?
JW: Yes, absolutely. I would have preferred that people would have told me when I made a mistake. Sure, I figured it out myself, but I could have learned much quicker if I had help.
KW: Do you think people might think you would have taken the correction the wrong way?
JW: Yes, this happens with my wife. If I correct her, she reminds me that English is my second language too.
(We both laughed at that.)
KW: I think it is commendable that you opened yourself up like that. It takes humility to tell people that you want to be corrected and to admit that you are wrong.
By now, I am sure you understand what I hope to use some time in the future. I will remind him of how he is willing to be corrected regarding the English language. Obviously I believe the Watchtower is wrong and that my Witness buddy has been misled. I hope to someday get to the point where he is open to being corrected about his beliefs.