Tag Archives: Literature

Orphan Train: A Short Allegorical Story, Part 3

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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?

[End]

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

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Orphan Train: A Short Allegorical Story, Part 2

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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

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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

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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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Why I Love the JW Literature Carts

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If you have been to a train station, bus station, or another high-pedestrian-traffic area in your city, you have likely seen the JW Literature carts. I find it amazing that this is considered an acceptable form of field service, given their adamant argument that house-to-house preaching is the proper form of ministry. (I know that JW’s standing on street corners holding out their literature is nothing new. They have been doing so for a long time. But my understanding is that in the past, individuals used that as an unofficial way to fill their service time when they hadn’t done so by going door-to-door. Now the cart ministry is a fully sanctioned and resourced form of field service.)

Whatever the reasons the governing bully is now endorsing the cart ministry, I consider it to be a blessing. I love the cart ministry! Why? Because of the opportunities it affords to us in ministry to JW’s. Take my recent experience as an example.

I took at day trip into my nearest metropolitan downtown area (i.e. I went into the Big City), with the purpose of hopefully encountering the JW’s that station themselves and their carts in the commuter train station. I expected I would be able to talk briefly with perhaps two couples of JW’s. But because of the cart ministry I was able to talk with 10-12 JW’s that day. They had two carts, each with two or three people, inside the underground train station. Then another cart up on the surface streets, right at the cable car turnaround. (Oops, I just gave away what city I’m near.) So I talked with each of those groups of JW’s. Then, thinking I had exhausted my opportunities, I took a walk up the street to another city square, where, aha! I discovered two more “cart couples.” After talking with them, I poked around in some shops, then walked back to the train station. There I discovered that the cart people had rotated, so that there were some of the same people, but also some that were new to me. More people to talk with!

It turns out that the JW’s cart ministry strategy results in a witnessing opportunity bonanza for me (maybe you?). Their practice of multiple locations in close proximity to each other, together with their periodic rotation of staff, provides me with ongoing “divine appointments.” I kept it up for most of the afternoon!

My talking points were (1) Jesus as our mediator, (2) assurance of eternal life, and (3) being adopted as Jehovah’s sons. (See my past posts for those topics.) It was a fun, and I believe profitable day in the work of sharing with my JW friends.

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Read Any Good Books Lately, Chapter 2

In a previous post (See: Read Any Good Books Lately?) I told about a young man, George, a high schooler who shared with me a love of good literature. His favorite book is The Giver, by Lois Lowry, a story about independent thinking , a value we naturally cherish, but which is frowned upon by the Watchtower society. Since reading The Giver, I have been champing at the bit to talk with George about it. I got my opportunity during this last kingdom hall visit. Kind of.

George was with his dad, Darryl, when we talked. And mostly Darryl talked. But I didn’t mind; actually it worked out quite well. I told both of them about my book that I recently completed and published on Amazon, and Darryl questioned me about it a lot. I could tell he was grilling me (politely) to see whether or not it would be something that he would approve of his son reading. I had the pleasure of describing my purpose in writing, to draw atheists and agnostics toward the reasonableness and desirability of theism. And I delighted to tell him about my commitment to a faithfulness to scriptural truth. Darryl seemed satisfied with my answers. I’m pleased to have been able to recommend my book to George with dad’s approval, rather than George having to possibly sneak to read it.

The whole time that I was talking with Darryl, George was listening intently. I was finally able to ask George again what he liked about The Giver. His response was very different from when I had talked with him apart from his dad. This time, there was not any mention of independent thinking, but only an expression of appreciation for Lois Lowry’s creativity and compelling style. I don’t think I’m imagining that George had confided in me something that he didn’t want to express in the presence of his dad.

Oh, Lord Jesus, I know you love George even more than I do. Please set him free into a new, vibrant life in Jesus.

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Read Any Good Books Lately?

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The last time I attended the meeting at the local kingdom hall (I think it was in March), I was chatting with one of the young men there, a high school student whom I will call George. I really like George. He reminds me of me when I was a highschooler. We’re both brainy, introverted, tall, klutzy; you know where I’m going with this–we’re nerds, ok? Anyway, we both like to read, and he was quite interested to hear me describe the book that I have written and will soon publish, a “dystopian” work of fiction. (If you don’t know what that is, think Hunger Games or any of the recent popular stories set in “ideal” but dysfunctional societies.)

So after hearing my description of my book, George said, “That reminds me of one of my favorite books.” When I asked him what that was, he said The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Being unfamiliar with that book or author, I asked him to describe it for me and tell me why he liked it. He said that it was about independence and thinking for oneself.

“Uh–”

Me, speechless.

George’s favorite work of literature has as its main theme a value that is explicitly denounced by the Watchtower Society. The literal phrase “independent thinking” is used as a negative buzzword in the literature and the kingdom hall talks. So when George said that, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I immediately decided that I needed to read that book. Not many days later I downloaded it from Amazon and read it. I was shocked and delighted that George valued the story of a boy who ends up questioning everything that has ever been taught him by the overbearing organization under which he and his family live. The parallels in the story to someone living as a Jehovah’s Witness are obvious. But the question haunts me: are the parallels obvious to George?

Is George’s valuing of this story an indication of his own questioning of the Watchtower? Or does he merely think it a cool story, making no connection between the life of the main character and his own? I’m drowning in curiosity, and can’t wait to talk with George about it some more.

Whether George is already doubting and questioning the WT, or whether interest in this story can begin to spark that “independent thinking,” the evidence indicates that God is at work in either case. What an amazing opportunity I have before me to talk with a young man about the freedom he can have in Jesus. Please pray for George.

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