So you might be thinking what is this blog about? Well, I just had the privilege of having two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) visit my home. I had questions about what they believed when they did their usual Watchtower leafleting and so I scheduled an appointment for a home visit. Yesterday, Desarae and Elizabeth spent 90 minutes with me and my family. Here’s what I learned…
1.) We, as Catholics, could learn something from Jehovah’s Witness zeal. Although, they are very much misled in their understanding of who Jesus is (JWs believe Christ to be St. Michael the Archangel) and the Triune God head, I was very impressed with their desire to share with me what they hold true. When was the last time we as Catholics reached out to a stranger to share what we hold to be true, good and beautiful? Very convicting.
2.) I learned that we must reach out and share our faith with JWs when they come to our doors. Often not the greatest timing, still, it is our duty and gift to share what we hold dear as Catholics. It is an opportunity for us to stretch ourselves and grow in our ability and call to evangelization. At my meeting with the JWs, we opened with a prayer (which I led – see #3) and they broke open their bible to Matthew 28:19-20 or the “Great Commission.” We must also fulfill that commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” and we must start in our neighborhoods just like the JWs do.
3.) When I asked Elizabeth and Desarae if we could open with a prayer, they were at first a little hesitant, but soon acquiesced to my request with a little encouragement from me. They asked me to lead the prayer. I willingly led and honored what my little research of JWs taught me about their beliefs. The truth is JWs believe in God as Father. So in this attempt to focus on what united us, we began our holy discussion with a prayer to our Heavenly Father. Why start evangelizing with our focus on what divides us? The ladies also shared with me that in their faith experience and through their understanding of biblical principles, they defer to a man when present to lead the faithful in prayer. Interesting. I think that is a positive thing as we ponder at TKM why there is a crisis in masculinity. I can tell you that their encouragement of me to pray was edifying to me as a man. We, as Catholic men, must learn to lead our families in prayer.
4.) We must read and know our Bible and our Sacred Tradition! As the JWs came prepared to answer my preliminary questions as to why JWs believe Jesus to be St. Michael the Archangel and the confusing 144,000 saved souls reference in the Book of Revelation, I saw that they had biblical references for all my questions at their ready. I did not have any verses at my ready to share, but I knew where to go in my Bible to discuss certain points that were being put forward. For instance, it was helpful to know that the Canon of the scriptures was put together in the 5th century and by the Catholic Church and people like St. Augustine. It was helpful to have a good working knowledge of Apologetics too. The classic Protestant arguments were present such as Sola Scriptura and comments such as the Catholic Church has done some evil things in its history. Even though JWs are not considered Protestant or even Christian for that matter, much of their presentation had such a bent.
5.) Finally, I learned that the best way to evangelize JWs is to be welcoming and joyful. JWs cannot argue with charity. It is a sign of the presence of God yes? St. John in his epistle tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Yes, our love and joy is a witness in itself. It is rare for JWs to be invited into a home when they visit with their Watchtower propaganda. So the next time they come to your house, put a smile on your face and share the good news of Jesus Christ as they are truly unaware how much they need it from you!