Tag Archives: religion

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

OrphanTrainCover

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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Photo Source: Quotesgram.com.

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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Opportunity Knocks, Then Runs Away

Have you noticed that one of my blog posts has a very long string of comments attached? See My JW Friend and I Share a Laugh to see what I’m talking about. The comment string represents an ongoing conversation between myself and a reader that went on for three months, almost to the date (12/15/16 through 3/15/17). Any reader patient enough to read through it (if you do, you’re a Bible nerd like me), would likely only see a debate between two disagreeing Bible students. And that’s certainly true. But for me the comment string represents more than just a conversation or debate. It represents a relationship; at least, that’s how I feel about it. I don’t know how my reader/comment-er thinks, but that’s my perspective. For three short months, the reader and I interacted, respectfully disagreed, debated, and discussed a number of topics. We debated about whether God’s name should be specified as Jehovah, Yahweh, or something else. We discussed the issue of Calvinism, predestination, and free will. We discussed the nature of God as ontologically stable or changeable, including whether the divine name is more properly translated “I am” or “I will be what I will be.” All those potentially volatile subjects were discussed with respect and even friendliness. At one point my reader said:

BTW, a sincere ‘thank you’ for the open discussion and allowing me to express my view on your blog. It’s refreshing!

Every day I looked forward to finding out what my reader would say in response to what I had written. I was challenged and stretched by the interaction. I was hoping that our friendship would become one lasting years.

Then suddenly, nothing. No response to my post on 3/15. Cue the sound of crickets.

I’m not angry with my reader. I’m not offended. I’m just concerned. In my mind I have considered all the possibilities I can imagine. They include:

  1. He became sick or otherwise incapacitated, or died, and so can no longer interact.
  2. His computer or internet connection gave out, and he has no access to another one any time soon.
  3. His elders found out that he was interacting with “opposers” online, and forbade him from doing so any more (assuming that he is, in fact, a Jehovah’s Witness).
  4. He himself decided to not interact with “opposers” any longer, feeling convicted by the convention talks, the literature, or some other propaganda from the Governing Bully.
  5. He became frustrated with the fact that it was looking like he wasn’t going to change my views any, and moved on to interact with others that might be more pliable. (Aka he felt he was wasting his time and effort on me. The “pearls before swine” principle.)

I sure wish I knew what really happened. For the record, I have no sense of “having won” the argument. That’s not the point, and not why I was interacting with him. I was hoping a good friend was on his way to being set free from the organization, into new life in Jesus Christ. The silence breaks my heart.

But, at the same time, I know that God was at work, and still is. The fact that he would interact with an “opposer” for three months is miraculous, and indicates that God is at work on his heart. Jesus said that “No one comes to me unless the Father draws him.” I was privileged to have a 3-month window of opportunity with him. That window of time opened suddenly, and closed even more abruptly.

I’d like to ask all my readers: Whom are you trying to reach with the good news (gospel) of the free, unearned, undeserved gift of new life with Jehovah in Christ? Your window of opportunity could vanish in a blink, at any time. Make the most of the opportunity you have. Love and pray for that dear one(s).

And, dear 3-month friend, if you read this, please contact me again. I want to know how you’re doing, hoping that you have new life and freedom, and a relationship with Jehovah apart from the organization, but if not, I’m also willing (no, eager) to engage in further dialogue with you. Jesus loves you, and so do I.

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Summary of my JW Experiences, FYI

Since the beginning of my relations with Jehovah’s Witnesses, here’s a summary of what I’ve had the privilege of experiencing: Multiple conversations with my JW friend Mark, plus somewhat less with another friend who has since died (let’s call him Frank). Plus several conversations with one of the elders at one of the Kingdom Halls that I have visited. I have been to one Sunday service at Kingdom Hall A, which was the annual memorial (Lord’s Supper) service, plus one weeknight meeting at Hall A and one at Hall B. I have also been to 1 district convention and one smaller regional (circuit assembly?) convention. Finally, I have had brief conversations with various others that I have met at Kingdom Halls and conventions. So far they all have been able to easily recognize that I am not a Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, so far they all think that I’m a prospect interested in the Bible, and they do not know that I’m trying to influence them away from the Watchtower Society and toward Jesus. With the exception of my original friend Mark. He knows that I don’t plan on converting, but he keeps meeting with me. I have explained to him that I still want to learn accurately what they believe. So I think he keeps holding out hope that he will convert me. Meanwhile I continue to give him things to challenge his thinking and his blind acceptance of what the Watchtower says. It has been at times frustating and taxing on my patience, but also very often pleasurable and fun. Part of the enjoyment is the excitement of being “undercover.”

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