If you have been to a JW convention, you might think that the title of this post is a contradiction. How could anyone have fun at a JW convention? Well, aside from counting ill-fitting suits and misinterpreted scriptures, I have had many pleasurable experiences while at the conventions.
Should I feel guilty that I find pleasure in ministering to JW’s? After all, it is a serious calling, and it’s life or death to the ones I’m reaching out to. Their relationship with Jehovah (or lack thereof) is as serious as a heart attack, and not something to be toyed around with. I do not find pleasure or satisfaction, as some do, in winning arguments, making them feel inferior, “setting them straight,” or “putting them in their place.” (OK, yes, I am tempted to do these things, but I’m gaining the victory over those sins. That’s right, I said sins.) But I cannot help that I find pleasure in talking with these people.
At the latest convention, I talked with a brother and sister (literal siblings, that is, not just fellow witnesses). Katie was the more outspoken of the two, so I asked her about the JW practice of concluding prayers to Jehovah with “in the name of Jesus.” “What does it mean to pray in the name of Jesus?” I asked, “assuming that it’s more than just a correct formula for the end of a prayer.” It was a pleasure to see her enthusiastically presenting my argument for me, as she explained the deep, profound meaning behind the phrase. Then, imagine my delight as she mentioned Jesus’ role as mediator in his role as the channel of our prayers to Jehovah. A more sinister mind would say she fell right into my trap. Instead I see it as God’s Spirit at work, bringing her to a crisis in her belief-system that could bring her one step closer to freedom. I affirmed her recognition of Jesus’ mediatorial role, and conveyed my excitement of having Jesus as my mediator. Then I dropped the bomb. “What concerns me,” I said, “is that Watchtower teaches that Jesus is the mediator for only the 144,000.”
Now the real fun began. Her intent gaze changed to searching-for-an-answer glances up and to one side–you know the look, like when you’re called upon in class and you’re trying to remember the answer from last night’s homework. That body language is what gives me the most pleasure, because it indicates that I’ve gotten them to “jump the tracks,” wrestling with concepts that they haven’t ever considered before. I love those moments.
Then, much more to my delight, Katie began to verbalize her internal conflict, in one sentence affirming that Jesus could be the mediator for the Great Crowd, and in another affirming that he could not be our mediator, all the while aware that she was contradicting herself, but powerless to fix the problem. (I must add that Katie is no dummy; she’s highly intelligent, and speaks more languages than I do.) All I had to do was repeat back to her what she was saying, and allow her to argue with herself.
Why do I find this so pleasurable? Do I have a sick mind? Well, maybe, but not in this case. My pleasure comes from seeing God at work. He caused me to have a divine appointment with Katie and her brother. He is drawing her (and possibly him) to himself. He directed her thinking and our conversation. She’s wrestling with God like Jacob, and probably doesn’t even realize it. And the longer I can keep her wrestling, the better chance she has of finding true freedom. I want to keep her (and others) in this searching-for-answers state for as long as possible. And I want to avoid pushing them further to the looking-around, change-the-subject, glazed-over, shutting down look. You know the one–the look that says “I’m done talking with you, at least about that subject.” If that happens, I try to give them an out, perhaps by saying, “Well, it’s something to think about, isn’t it? Anyway, . . .” (and change the subject). And wipe that smug look off my face (and my heart), because I want to remain friends with them. I want them to be willing to talk with me again sometime. Because talking with them is so much fun!