Too many Christmas goodies and late evenings had me off schedule and extending my morning coffee ’til noon in my pajamas. With my husband taking extra days off from work and a few trips tossed in, I struggled to remember what day it was. Perhaps you can relate to the holiday vacation slump? So December was winding down with a prayer for renewed energy since I personally felt like a sloth. But on the last Tuesday of 2015, a morning phone call turned into an entire day of connections and encouragement. Just the energy I needed.
A woman called my extension on our website and explained that her niece was a disfellowshipped Jehovah’s Witness shunned by her parents. She was in the hospital suffering from the stress this has caused. Her aunt suggested she should talk with another former JW and asked if I could put her in touch with anybody in her home state of Florida. A few names came to mind and I told her I’d gather up some contacts for when her niece was able to talk.
My first call was to Todd and Betty Ellis of Make Sure Ministries. What an encouraging time catching up with Todd. I really need to call him more often. Todd was very happy to offer himself and his wife Betty as Florida contacts for this young woman. He and Betty have also written an excellent Bible Study for Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and they gave us permission to post their study on our website at the links below:
Todd and Betty’s Bible Study Workbook
Todd and Betty’s One-on-One Discipleship Ministry
I hung up an hour later much lighter and eager to make more connections in 2016. From there I called Dawne who partners with Make Sure Ministries and she also offered her support.
Dawne mentioned her friend Nicole was organizing a potluck in January for some ex-Witnesses and people from her church. I recalled that Nicole contacted our ministry team this summer seeking to teach classes about Jehovah’s Witnesses but had forgotten she also lived in Florida. So I called Nicole and she was eager to become a contact for this struggling exJW in her home state. I got back to the aunt who originally called me and was happy to report that her niece now had several people in her home state praying and eager to support her.
While talking with Dawne, however, we’d gotten on the subject of unmet resolutions made earlier in the year. I mentioned how I started but never finished my goal of making connections easier for former Witnesses to find one another. I’ve been attempting to organize our Meetup members by state and also told Dawne about the Facebook page I started called ExJW Connections. Later that day I checked on it and discovered I had a note in my inbox from 2 weeks ago. It was from a woman looking for exJWs in Florida. What a coincidence! And what timing!
I apologized for getting back to her so late but was excited to offer Nicole as a contact. Had I not been busy all day with these other connections, I would’ve completely forgot that Nicole was in the area of Florida this other woman was inquiring about. This woman was new to talking with “apostates” (Ex-JWs) and was a bit fearful. We had a long conversation typing in the personal message feature on Facebook and by the end of the evening, she asked me to pray for her to work up the courage to talk with Nicole.
Later I heard these two not only got in touch with one another but found out they attended the same Kingdom Hall. Nicole used to conduct a Bible study with her older sister. Small world! Praise God, I see His arrangement in all of this. It was a good reminder to me of who is at the helm of this ministry.
I was set to being a sloth that day, so it certainly wasn’t my doing, but being available for what God wants to do through us is where the joy is. I made myself AVAILABLE and by taking that one phone call, it led me into the position of participating in the Spirit’s intention to connect not just those two ladies, but also benefit from the fellowship offered by Todd, Dawne, and Nicole. Meanwhile, the young woman for whom the aunt was seeking help has not contacted anyone yet to my knowledge. But thanks to her, two ex Jehovah’s Witnesses in Florida found one another and the activity of this connection process ministered to each of us and certainly reinvigorated my goal of connecting more people in 2016. Glory to God who does the work for us!
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie