Yesterday I visited the local kingdom hall, as I do about once a month. My purpose in visiting is to try to influence JW’s with either the truth of the Bible, or my personal relationship with God, or both. A while back I was forbidden by the elders to share my “personal opinions” with parishoners, and I have been abiding by their rule, keeping my conversations limited to small-talk and personal caring about their lives.
So after the meeting last night, two of the elders asked me to talk with them outside. This was the third time I got a talking-to; see my previous posts about those experiences, here and here. This time they were telling me that they were going to forbid me from attending any more. If I showed up at their kingdom hall, or any of the others that meet on the same property, I would be trespassing. When I asked why, they explained that they had gotten word “from the body” that I was sharing my opinions. I told them that I had indeed not been doing that since being directed not to do so. And I questioned their source, asking “What do you mean, you have gotten word from the body? You mean, all the members of the congregation?” They backpedaled, saying they meant the “body of elders.” (I believe I caught them in an attempted deception there, what they call “theocratic war strategy.”)
Then they changed their tactic, saying that they had been observing that I had “not been participating” in the meetings. So I called them on that, saying that I had my Bible open during the whole meeting, and that when I raised my hand attempting to participate, I was never called on. Well, they explained that what they meant was that during the prayers I was not bowing my head. I told them that I was indeed praying, and that prayer does not require that one bowed their head or closed their eyes. “Wow,” I said, “You’re judging based on the outward appearance!” They replied that they had to, to protect the flock. I said “No, you don’t, and in fact Jesus tells us NOT to.” (Later I thought of the obvious question I could have asked: “How do you know my head wasn’t bowed, if your head was bowed and your eyes closed?” I guess the Lord didn’t want me to use that one.)
They then said they were questioning my motives for being there. Boom. There it is. I called them out for questioning the motives of my heart.
“You’ve been coming here a long time,” they said, implying that I needed to commit. I went to Acts 26 (which was the chapter right before Acts 27 and 28 from that night’s study). Agrippa asked Paul “Do you really think you’re going to convert me in so short a time?” Paul’s response is that whether a short time, or a long time, he wanted everyone there to be like himself, but without the chains. Paul was willing to take as much time as was needed for someone to be persuaded.
They had no good answers to my arguments, and I think they realized that, so one of the elders made me a proposal. He proposed that I write a letter to them explaining my motives for coming to the kingdom hall meetings. I gladly, even enthusiastically, agreed, (Challenge accepted!) and provided my email address to one of the elders so he could contact me with his email info.
As strange as this experience is, I have to think that God is at work in it. I have to be prepared for the worst case: They disregard my letter and I’m barred from the kingdom hall for life. But I’m also hoping for the best case: They actually read my letter and re-extend their invitation to me. There are, of course, other possibilities in between those two, including their reading of my letter and not reinstating me. In that case, I pray that each elder would personally be affected by my letter, and that it would be one seed that helps them get free from bondage to the Watchtower.
Even if the elders throw away my letter unopened, I will post it online, here and elsewhere, so that it can be used by God in other ways.
Okay, so on with letter writing! Please pray that my faltering efforts will be used by God in mighty ways!