While coming down the escalator into the baggage claim area, I could already see the three Jehovah’s Witness ladies at their literature cart. Since I had no checked baggage to claim, I went right up to them to chat. They were very polite and cheerful; one lady was in perhaps her fifties, the other two I’m guessing in their thirties. We made smalltalk about air travel and family. Then they offered their free literature to me. I asked if they wouldn’t mind answering a question. They were eager to help, so I sprung it on them.
“What is your good news, aka the gospel, that you’re sharing with people here today?”
If you’re at all familiar with Watchtower doctrine and teachings, you already know their answer. The eldest of the ladies told me about the coming kingdom of Jehovah, a 1000-year kingdom of paradise here on earth. I told them that their answer matched that of other JW’s that I have known, including a long-time JW friend of mine. They responded to that with a humble-brag about their unity. Then I asked, “Why is your gospel so different from the gospel that Paul spells out so clearly? You know the one, at the first few verses of First Corinthians 15? Can we look at that together?”
I brought up the passage in their own New World Translation of the Bible, using the JW app on my phone. I held it where we all could see it, while I read the verses out loud. “So why is your gospel so different from Paul’s?”
Then the eldest of the three ladies used a tactic that I had not anticipated, nor had I prepared for it. She jumped right down to verse 24 of the chapter, and read it. “Next, the end, when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power.” Then she explained, “There we see that the gospel is about the kingdom.” Then she asked, “What is your concern about our message?”
“Well,” I said. “But you skipped the whole first part of the chapter, the context. When would you tell people about Jesus, like Paul did?”
“Oh, we talk about Jesus,” she said.
“When?” I asked. “It seems to me that JW’s seldom talk about Jesus with people, like Paul did. And that’s what the whole book of Acts is about, isn’t it? The early church were obsessed with Jesus. They talked about him constantly. They were persecuted in Jesus’ name, they preached in Jesus’ name. It was all about Jesus with them.”
“We talk about Jesus later,” she said.
“But that’s backwards, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we talk about Jesus, who he is, what he has done for us, first? That’s the good news! That’s the gospel as Paul and the early church presented it.”
That’s when the eldest of the ladies started to shut down. “Since you have known a Jehovah’s Witness for a long time, they would have shared this with you already. I don’t think we’re going to convince you now; neither are you going to convince us.”
“Yeah, not likely,” I said. “But I had to ask.” Then I changed the subject. “Do you all live close by, or did you come from far away today?”
We all talked about where we lived, enjoyed a good, friendly conversation, and parted on good terms. It’s always my goal to part on good terms, because I want them to keep an open mind and heart to what I have shared with them.
Lord, bring to these ladies’ minds the verses that I shared with them. Pursue them relentlessly, in Jesus’ name.