Invitation to Jehovah’s Witness Memorial



Last night I attended the regular midweek meeting at the local kingdom hall, and was given this invitation to the upcoming Memorial (sometimes called the Lord’s Evening Meal); that is, the annual JW communion service. Jehovah’s Witnesses observe what we call communion only once per year, because they believe that it’s proper practice to observe the event on the day of year upon which Passover would be celebrated. This is a BIG DEAL to JW’s, and is the closest thing they have to celebrating a holiday.

Notice their quotation of Luke 22:19, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” I have a question I want to ask my JW friends. (And I likely will be asking them at the upcoming Memorial.) My question is, keep doing what? What is the this that we are to keep doing? Likely my JW friends will answer that we are to keep observing the memorial every year. But is that what Jesus had in mind when he said those words? Looking at the gospel narratives, it’s pretty obvious that Jesus was saying keep eating and drinking the bread and wine in remembrance of him. The strange thing is, the vast majority of JW’s don’t eat or drink the communion bread and wine. They just pass it without eating and drinking. Why? Because they believe that participating in the memorial is only for the 144,000 anointed class of believers. The rest, who are members of the “great crowd” class of believers, are only there to observe.

Sounds crazy to outsiders. Because it is crazy. But my JW friends and acquaintances don’t see it that way. It’s normal belief and practice to them. It’s likely that they have never even given it much thought; it’s just what they’ve always done. Our job, then, is to get them to think about it. But that’s not easy. While we’re uncomfortable just passing the bread and wine (last time I couldn’t do it; I had to get up and stand against the side wall), they would be uncomfortable with the thought of eating and drinking the symbols of a covenant belonging to someone else. So how do we talk with them about it? How do we get them to see how it looks to an outsider?

I have found the best approach is to express your puzzlement, which is not hard to do. Here’s what I asked a JW friend last year, and what I’ll likely ask again, and what you too can ask your JW friend, acquaintance, or relative:

“This is so strange to me. Can you tell me again why no-one here seemed to eat or drink the bread and wine? I’m puzzled.”

Then just let them try to explain. Some will be good at explaining it, while others will have a hard time explaining. But let them verbalize it and own it. Then repeat what they say, adding what you have learned about the practice. Something like, “So, if I understand correctly, Watchtower teaches that only the 144,000 anointed believers are in the New Covenant, and so only they can eat and drink. Can you tell me where in the Bible they are getting that from?” Show them the invitation, and ask, “I thought Jesus said ‘Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ Wasn’t he saying that to all believers?” Then let them respond however they will. They might try to explain it away. Or they might change the subject. Their response is less important than their interacting with the truth as you have quoted in scripture and have explained to them. You have planted seeds that may need to germinate invisibly in the soil of their heart and mind for a while. Keep praying for them. They can be set free. I know it’s true, because I have met former JW’s! (If you need that encouragement, see my previous post here.)

God bless your ministry to those in bondage!


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Orphan Train: A Short Allegorical Story, Part 3


As we journeyed, we met many of the other orphans, and discovered that they were divided sharply into two groups. One smaller set of orphans was fiercely loyal to The Small Group who ran The Master’s Proclaimers. The other set of orphans did not respect the Small Group or the Proclaimers at all.This larger set of orphans engaged in varying activities running the whole range of good and bad behavior, from fighting to getting along splendidly. Mostly they passed the time with card games, songs, stunts, and conversations. The Proclaimers, meanwhile, divided their time between reading the Small Group’s documents together and trying to convince others to join them. Occasionally a non-proclaimer became a Proclaimer, and just as occasionally a Proclaimer gave up being one. But for the most part, the two groups kept separate from each other, the Proclaimers occupying a smaller corner of the train car. Their attempts at conversations with the others were often met with such responses as “Go away,” and “Don’t bother me with your propaganda.”

My friend and I became increasingly frustrated with both groups. The fault of the Proclaimers was that their friendliness lasted only as long as a prospect showed interest in their message. As soon as a prospect began challenging any of the Small Group’s truth claims or authority, the prospect was then actively avoided by the Proclaimers. The fault of the non-Proclaimers was their complacency, showing no interest in reading the Master’s Contract at all. Neither group gave priority to the most important document available to them. My friend and I discovered much value in the document, gaining encouragement, even excitement, from its words. We wanted to share what we were learning with both groups, so we tried several methods. Public speaking with a loud voice from the front of the car was met with cowering and ear-plugging from the Proclaimers, and with either ignoring or hostile boo-ing from the non-Proclaimers. (Each of the two groups thought we represented the other.) We offered classes, lectures, and studies that no one attended. We wrote extensive notes that nobody read.

What finally proved effective was simply our friendship, and the Master’s Contract itself. We sought to make friends (and keep them) from both groups, and when the opportunities arose, shared with them briefly something from the contract, telling them how it had benefitted our lives. We also asked them questions about their experiences, and how The Contract could impact their lives. We showed them, for example, the “adoption” section of The Contract, asking whether they had experienced that reality in their lives, and whether they would like to.

The results varied, from awkward (but usually polite) rejection, to a desire to hear more. But we always got at least a little further than the immediate hostility experienced before.

No matter the response, we found that our friends were responding, not to us, but to The Contract itself. And in most cases, we were able to keep them as friends. We played games with the Non-Proclaimers. We attended some of the studies led by the Proclaimers. And we had friendly conversations with both.

So that’s my story. I’ve been riding this train ever since, delighted to be no longer an orphan, but a son of the Master, always eagerly looking forward to experiencing the glory of the Master’s estate and the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I can hardly wait to get there. But in the meantime, without a doubt, my friend and I (and the other orphans who eventually joined us) are experiencing the most and the deepest pleasure from our journey aboard the orphan train. We love sharing with others the Great Stuff we find in The Contract.

And now I want to ask you, wouldn’t you like to be adopted by The Master too?


Link to location on Amazon to download the whole story: Here.

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Orphan Train: A Short Allegorical Story, Part 2



I pulled out the contract and the other publications from the seat-back pocket. The contract was embossed with “The Master’s Railroad Company,” but the other documents were not embossed, instead displaying a masthead that read “The Master’s Proclaimers.” I said to the conductor, “There seem to be a lot of publications here. Who writes all this stuff? Can’t we just read the contract and see what it says for ourselves?”

“My boy,” said the conductor, “The contract is complex, and you will need help to understand it. A small group of Chosen Ones in the forward car has humbly taken on the task of helping all of us orphans understand its true meaning.”

My friend looked puzzled. “I thought no one could tell who were the Chosen Ones. So how do we know that the ones in the small group are chosen?”

The conductor, looking slightly annoyed by the question, said, “The answers to all your questions are found in the publications. I suggest you read and study them diligently.”

“Don’t you mean the answers are in the contract?” I asked.

“Yes, of course, the contract is absolute. But you will need help to understand it. This train’s journey is nearing its end, so it would be best for you to be busily engaged in study.”

And with that he left us.

Being an avid reader, I began reading the contract and some of the Proclaimers’ documents. As I read, my puzzlement became greater and greater. Perhaps the conductor was right. Perhaps I did need help to understand the contract. But the problem was not that the contract was confusing; in fact it was quite clear and readily understood. My puzzlement came from the fact that the contract seemed to contradict the claims of the small group of chosen orphans. Or was it that the claims contradicted what the contract so clearly stated?

For example, the contract said that anyone trusting themselves to the master’s care (by boarding the train) would be adopted. It didn’t seem to limit the privilege to a chosen few. The contract also stated that all the orphans on the train would be heirs and citizens, and would also govern the province. The contract even said that all the train orphans would have the Son as their mediator.

My friend was eager to ask the conductor about these apparent discrepancies, so when the conductor finished answering another orphan’s questions, my friend called him over.

“What can I help you to understand?” He asked.

My friend inquired, “Can you show us where in the contract it says that the Master’s benefits are only for the chosen few? We’re not finding that.”

“Take a look close to the end of the document, where it talks about the Chosen Ones.”

I found the section fairly quickly. And it did indeed mention that a small group of orphans would be chosen just before the train arrived at its final destination.

“But,” said my friend, “The contract specifies that the ones chosen would be descendants from the original railroad workers. It even lists their family names.” (Those were the workers who built the railroad system in the old days.)

“My friends,” replied the conductor, “Have you never before seen figurative, symbolic language? The mention of those families is merely symbolic of the chosen ones now in modern times. That makes sense, doesn’t it?”

I didn’t want to say “yes,” because honestly it didn’t make sense to me. But I also didn’t want to disappoint the conductor, so I didn’t know how to respond and stared, grinning at him. My friend, however, responded brilliantly for both of us.

“I think I understand what you’re saying,” he said. And the conductor, apparently satisfied with that answer, walked away.

[Tune in next time for part 3.]

Link to location on Amazon to download the whole story: Here.

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Orphan Train: A Short Allegorical Story, Part 1


I was a young orphan when I boarded the train, probably not yet ten years old. My friend told me  that when they asked who was paying for my ticket to say “Joshua Masterson,” so that’s what I did. We took our seats among many others, and once the train got moving the conductor entered the car. At least, his uniform was that of a conductor, but he was a boy not much older than my friend and I. He then called for everyone’s attention.

“On behalf of the Master, who owns the railroad, welcome aboard,” he began. “You may or may not know that this train’s final destination is the home town of the Master himself. There are some things you need to know, and it is my job to let you know these things.

“Once we arrive in the Master’s town, a select few orphans from among you will be chosen to live on the Master’s estate. The master has prepared homes for the Chosen Ones, nicer homes than you could ever imagine. All that you could ever need or want will be provided, including all your meals–gourmet banquets, no less.

“The rest of you orphans, the ones not chosen, will be allowed to live within the towns and countryside surrounding the walled estate. There you will have the resources that you need to provide for yourselves a good living, certainly much better than you have ever experienced as orphans.

“You must keep in mind, and this is important, that you should not try to figure out whether or not someone you know is, or is not, one of the Chosen Ones. There is no way you can tell who is, or who isn’t, one of The Chosen. Think about it. If someone claims to be one of the Chosen Ones, they could be an impostor, or they might end up being quitters, leaving the train somewhere along the way. Or they might just be deluded. You can’t know, so don’t even try.

“You will find in the seat pocket in front of you a document. This document is the contract that the Master has made with his Chosen Ones. The Master has signed this contract, so he has committed to providing a number of benefits to the Chosen Ones. For example, he will be legally adopting the Chosen Ones as his sons and daughters, which means that they will also be his heirs, receiving an inheritance from him. And that adoption will also make them naturalized citizens of the Master’s province. And part of their inheritance will be that they will be placed into leadership positions, governing the province along with the Master and his son.

“Speaking of the son, if the Chosen Ones have any concerns, or want to convey a message to the master, the Master’s son will hand-deliver their concerns to the master, because the son is the mediator for the Chosen Ones.

“As you can imagine, this new life for the Chosen Ones will be so different from their previous life as orphans, it will be like being virtually re-born.

“Now, some of you will be wondering, if you’re not one of the Chosen Ones, is that somehow unfair? But consider, your train passage, something you could never have paid for yourselves as orphans, was provided for free by Joshua Masterson, the Master’s son himself, and you will be enjoying a far better life than you ever had as orphans. Your proper response should be humble gratefulness.

“Okay, so please read all about the Master’s contract in the publications also provided in your seat pocket; they will help you understand the contract better. Once again, welcome aboard.”

My friend raised his hand, and the conductor came to our seat.

“Sir,” said my friend, “I have some questions.”

“Yes, what is it?” he said, with what I thought was a hint of annoyance.

“Well sir, those of us who are not chosen, will we be allowed to visit the Master’s estate sometimes?”

“No, you will not. That will be impossible.”

“Oh, then, surely the Chosen Ones and the Son will come and visit us then?”

“No. They will certainly govern over the province, but only from within the Master’s estate.”

[Tune in next time for part 2.]

Link to location on Amazon to download the whole story: Here.

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Orphan Train: An Allegorical Short Story About Jehovah’s Witnesses


Click Here to Get the Story

Some time ago, I wrote and published a short story called Orphan Train. I have kept it anonymous, for the following reasons.

First, I’m hoping that the story gets passed around and shared widely. I have made it downloadable on Amazon, where it’s available for the minimum allowed 99 cent price. Hopefully that will be affordable enough for everyone. I have also made it available for free by clicking on the link above. I encourage you to download it and give it a read!

The second reason for anonymity is so that, if the story becomes widely circulated, it will be obvious that I have no profit motive in promoting it. I just want readers to benefit from it.

“Benefit how?” you ask. Thanks for asking. For current Jehovah’s Witnesses, I hope it will help them to get an honest look at their organization from the outside. I’m hoping the story has an effect similar to when Nathan the prophet confronted King David with a nice story that packed a punch. (See Second Samuel, chapter 12.) For those of us attempting to reach JW’s with the truth of the gospel, I’m hoping it will provide an effective tool for doing so. And thirdly, I’m hoping the story will also provide any reader with insight into the Jehovah’s Witness organization and the mindset of its members.

I will also publish the story on this blog, starting with the next blog post. I’m not sure if I will post it all at once, or break it down into two or more posts. In any case, whether you access the story at Amazon, or by the link above, or by the blog post(s) to follow, please give me your feedback in the comments section. A review on Amazon would be so helpful too (you have no idea, unless you too have self-published something), and greatly appreciated. (You don’t have to buy it through Amazon to post a review.)

Please feel free to share the story with others freely. It’s public domain!

Thank you, readers!

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Talking With Some Former Jehovah’s Witness Agnostics


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A few weeks ago some friends and I met a couple of former Jehovah’s Witnesses who have left, not only the JW religion and the Watchtower org, but have also left behind their belief in God. Actually, I need to clarify. Neither of them said that they no longer believe in God. It’s just that, they’re soooooo reluctant to allow themselves to believe in God, because of their fears of such a belief system and the organizations associated with that belief. One of the two young women described her gut- and heart-wrenching story of leaving the cult with virtually nothing (monetarily, materialistically, life-skills and job-skills), and her acknowledgement that the provision of her current living situation, income-producing job, and social life were explainable only in terms of angelic help. But she said out loud that she was reluctant to even say the word “God.” She was so fearful of allowing anything into her life, or even her mind, that could possibly, even remotely, lead her toward any form of high-control religious system or organization. Her fear was palpable, like a choking smoke in the room. And her fear was understandable.

I had read online about this fear shared by former JW’s, but seeing it firsthand revealed to me the depth and strength of that fear. It’s as though their former fear of interacting with “apostates” and “opposers” has been transferred to and replaced by a fear of anyone or anything religious.

There’s a reason that people become close-minded about stuff, whether we’re talking about a JW, an atheist, or ourselves. The reason is fear, and fear comes from an experience of pain or strong discomfort. Listening to the two young women, hearing the fear in their voices and seeing it in their body language, has given me more empathy for close-minded people, whether JW’s, former JW’s, or anyone else. We (and I) need to stop seeing atheists, agnostics, JW’s, Mormons, or anybody with a different belief system than ours, as the enemy. They are not the enemy. They are likely victims. The enemy is the belief system, the organization, the abuser, the leader(s) they have followed, the spirits of oppression and deception that has held them captive.

The problem is, it’s difficult to fight against what we cannot see or interact with directly.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Shouldn’t we be issued with a magic wand, then? That’s almost what it sounds like. Well, we get no magic wand. But we do get the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. And we have the Holy Spirit within us. That’s more than magical; it’s supernatural! Take that, spiritual forces of evil!

There was a fight scene going on in the room where we met. (What movie fight scene are you imagining right now?) But not between us and the former JW’s. Hopefully all they sensed was our love and concern for them. But in the spiritual realm . . . (cue sounds of swords furiously clanking). At one point, one of the young women asked us, hypothetically, if we spent a day with them, and they didn’t convert to our religion, and if they remained atheistic or agnostic, or if they became hindu, muslim, or buddhist instead, would we still associate with them? There were 6 of us believers in the room, and we all without a nanosecond’s hesitation responded with a resounding “yes.” We would all still value our relationship with them, and would associate with them. That must have spoken to their hearts, because they became must softer in their conversation with us after that.

The whole time, I was tempted to use logical arguments with them, such as on the chart above. And if it had been the right place and time, and if they would have been open and ready to receive it, I would have done so. But I didn’t. I valued the relationship above the logical apologetic process. For now they just needed a good experience with believers, something other than guilt, fear, and manipulation. And that’s what we provided.

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Encouragement From an Old Friend

alcohol, beer, beer bottle

Actual Photo of Me and Jess Meeting

Jess and I were roommates in college. Bible college, that is. Realm of mandatory chapel services, curfews, and dress codes. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Bible college, for both the new-start-after-high-school experience, and the Bible savvy I gained. But back then “witnessing” meant winning arguments and showing off our Bible prowess.

Oh my, I just did the math, and it was 30+ years ago! We have both mellowed since then. But he has retained his zealousness, in a good way. (Oops, should I have used the word zeal there? Zealousness sounds more impressive, doesn’t it?) I’m trying to do the same.

Jess came for a visit, and he and I were talking about this crazy ministry of reaching out to Jehovah’s Witnesses that God has placed in my path. He’s very supportive of the whole thing, and wants to see it reach its full potential. So we began brainstorming (okay, mostly he did the brainstorming) about what some next steps ought to be.

For one thing, he has invited me to speak to a church group he’s involved with. Cool! I plan on taking him up on that.

Secondly, he thought I should develop a curriculum to be used by others. I’m working on that.

Third, he thought it would be good if I involved others in the ministry. I’d like to, and have been thinking the same, but have been rather stymied as to how to make that happen. His (good) suggestion was to develop mentoring with individuals, whether in person or online. Hmm. Boy, that would be great! Jess has a lot of experience with online video conferencing stuff through his work, so he may be my go-to guy for ongoing advice in developing that. I would need to get some equipment for that, including a descent video cam. (Tell me in the comments whether you would want to learn from me either in person or online. We could get started by phone if we can’t meet in person.)

Finally, he came up with the idea of me preparing some training role-play videos, where I and others act out how to talk with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sound familiar? Yes, it would be similar to the role-playing that the JW’s do in their “theocratic ministry school.” Sounds fun, yes? I’ll be looking for fellow actors for that, and former JW’s would be ideal, since they would have the best insight into the mindset of an active JW, and would be the best candidates to play that role.

Let me know what you think about all this. Brainstorm with us! Meanwhile, I will be seeking guidance from Jehovah’s Holy Spirit. May the Lord speak to you as well, no matter what the issue is you’re facing.

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