Blessings from Baltimore!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. (Psalm 118:114-115)
Joyful shouting. I did a lot of that over my two week vacation to Maryland in April. I spent Resurrection Sunday with some dear friends who are also former Jehovah’s Witnesses. We CELEBRATED the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our freedom in Him, and just being the wacky, unique individuals He created us to be.
Earlier in the week we caroused several thrift stores and flea markets in search of the perfect hat for a friend. At one sale I had opportunity to speak with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses behind a literature cart. She invited me to their annual Memorial explaining it as a day set aside to commemorate Jesus’ death. I agreed with her on it’s importance and expressed my own appreciation for what Jesus’ death means to me. Then I asked her, “so at this service you have in which you celebrate His death, do you also celebrate His resurrection or do you have a separate service for that?”
And she actually said,
“OH, WE DON’T CELEBRATE HIS RESURRECTION.”
How sad. Not only do they reject the body and blood of Christ at their Memorial service, but they also go forth in their ministry boldly proclaiming there is no reason to celebrate His resurrection. Just what part of this is Christian? I know that most Jehovah’s Witnesses are very sincere lovers of God, but to call this a Christian religion is a serious deception. He’s ALIVE!!!! Is that not cause for celebration? But the resurrection is nothing to celebrate and salvation is an uncertain promise to Jehovah’s Witnesses. An uncertainty that “maybe” they will survive an ever impending Armageddon, and “maybe” survive a literal thousand year reign after that and STILL have no certain hope of salvation. Just when does this joyful shouting of salvation begin for them?
My encounter with Jehovah’s Witnesses was on Saturday but the next day was Palm Sunday. My friend’s church provided space for us to meet with 8 other former Jehovah’s Witness ladies we contacted through personal invitation. Seven of us were able to attend the morning church service together before our afternoon gathering. We prayed and shared communion together which was something denied to us as JWs. For two of the women it was their first communion. Though the church originally provided us one room, they needed it later in the day and had to move us two more times during our event. My friend Sharon quipped, “that’s okay, we’re used to going door-to-door.” After sharing stories all day, some of us were still in the parking lot talking til 9 pm!! Some lasting friendships have been made and more local meetups will follow in the future.
After our gathering, I still had another week and a half in Baltimore and continued to keep my eyes open for the perfect hat for our friend. One day as we were driving to her house, we zoomed past a small rummage sale in front of a church. I urged Sharon to turn around as I thought I saw a hat! Sure enough, it was the PERFECT hat for our little skit. The couple having the sale informed us that they were raising funds for their daughter’s mission trip to Africa. Sharon told them we were both former Jehovah’s Witnesses and they came out from behind their table asking us both many questions. I had several question cards in my wallet from 4witness.org and gave them to the woman letting her know the resources available there. Her husband began telling us about his ideas for a ministry he was embarking on and asked Sharon if she’d be interested in sharing her testimony at their church. When I returned home, he had already emailed me and I encouraged him to attend the annual Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Pennsylvania this October if possible. I sent him a link to my testimony from 2011 and also a talk given on stirring up the church to reach out to Jehovah’s Witnesses. As Sharon and I drove away that morning, she asked, “and what was it you prayed for today?!” Oh that’s right. I thanked God for answering my prayer that we would have an encounter that day. Not only did we meet these people, but with humor God topped it off with the perfect hat!
The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly!!!
Keep yourself in God’s love,