Connections; that’s my theme for 2015. January affords us all an opportunity to look over the previous year and see…
what was good, what was lacking, and in what ways we can improve.
This past year I kept thinking people were losing interest in our Meetup Support groups because of the plethora of choices out there for discussions on Facebook. Yet when I compared our numbers with last year, our membership actually was up in the Worldwide Internet support group for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. 155 new members joined compared with 120 in 2013. When I coupled that with the activity I’ve observed in Facebook groups also gaining momentum, I was only too happy to acknowledge that the Watchtower is losing it’s members. Something good!
Something is lacking, however, in our discussion group for ex-Mormons. It has at least remained consistent in membership. In 2013, only 22 people joined and in 2014, that was also the case. But very little discussion takes place on that support group.
The group we are most eager to see improvement in is our Prayer Meetup. Membership and activity have both declined. In 2013 only 40 people joined but the tally for 2014 shows a mere 26 new members and most of them never visit the site again. Many who join are concerned about a friend or relative held captive to either Mormonism or the Watchtower and ask for prayer. Seldom do we hear any updates as to how things are going. We also do not know if they are taking advantage of any of the witnessing tips on www.4witness.org . It would be encouraging to hear when someone sees signs of breakthrough so that we can rejoice with them. Likewise, it’s necessary to be uplifted and encouraged by others if results aren’t seen and we grow weary. There is sadly very little connectedness in our prayer group since few have joined this year and even less visit it. So my goal for the Prayer Meetup is to regularly send out encouraging Scriptures on prayer, reminders to visit various Internet ministries for help, and include witnessing tips from our websites along with simple prayer focuses around those specific tips. Hopefully, more will visit and enjoy the blessing of our monthly corporate cyber prayer meetings also.
One of the remedies to encourage members on the Prayer Meetup is to promote the blogtalk radio shows we’re partnering with through Healing X Outreach. These programs each have a unique focus for those recovering from cult exit. Whether it’s information or encouragement, these radio shows offer it. Our group has been praying for several established Internet ministries since 2009 but now we will be more focused to pray specifically for the five shows we advertise on our 3 Meetups.
Several members on the discussion group for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses are already regular listeners to Healing X Outreach on blogtalk radio. Our home page for that group will continue to feature the host of Healing X Outreach, Agustin Astacio, and his Saturday morning’s offering of debates, featured speakers, and encouragement for ex-cultists. The Hen’s Pen with Wendy Tucker, Dan Hall, Marilyn Marsh, Anne Marie, and Sunshine girl engages the listener in more of a round table discussion of Bible topics each Sunday afternoon. On Monday’s Healing X Outreach features The Christian Corner with Ray Aldridge from the United Kingdom. Ray offers very detailed information about the Watchtower and it’s contrast to traditional Christian belief. For those struggling with the emotional effects of leaving the Watchtower, Melissa Bramer has it covered every 2nd and 4th Tuesday night of the month with her Hurting to Healing show on blogtalk radio.
Through these radio shows, we’re offering our Meetup members another way to get informed and understood outside the exchange of written words. In that sense we offer these radio programs both as a “substitute” but also a “spring board” for further discussion for those who would like to write their comments on our Meetup discussion boards after listening to the content of these radio shows.
Also in line with making more connections in 2015, we’re currently compiling a list of members by state to offer additional choices of how and where to gather. The Worldwide Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Meetup has already provided several of us the opportunity to connect in person at the annual Witnesses Now for Jesus conference in Pennsylvania, but travel is not always possible for everyone. We’d like to use the resource of our worldwide contacts as a connecting point to bring ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses together with others nearer to their own home state. If small support groups form, it’s possible that other conferences will crop up in those areas.
I look forward to seeing how God makes this tiny seed of “connection” to grow for His intended purpose.
Happy New Year!
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie