He hath regarded the prayer of the destitute, And hath not despised their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come; And a people which shall be created shall praise Jehovah. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; From heaven did Jehovah behold the earth; To hear the sighing of the prisoner; To loose those that are appointed to death; That men may declare the name of Jehovah in Zion, And his praise in Jerusalem; When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve Jehovah. – Psalm 102:17-22 ASV
Another Witnesses Now for Jesus conference came to a close in late September and those who attended each came home with a treasured highlight to share. As a 4th time attendee, the conference has now become like a family reunion for me. I appreciate the Friday morning introductions which offer all of us an opportunity to update each other and also meet the first time visitors. As the microphone passed from one person to the next, I noticed a new person a few rows behind me. He stood up to share a bit of his story but I missed his name. As he continued to speak, I thought he seemed familiar… But no…. It’s not him… Is it? Then at the end of his introduction, he looked my way, flipped over his name badge with his “cyber name” on it, and I exclaimed “are you AJ?!” I first met “AJ” online after Betty from our volunteer ministry team encouraged him to join our Meetup group. When he shared his story there, several of our members began to encourage him and pray. Throughout the month I had been promoting the conference but “AJ” explained the drive was too far for him and it was impossible to get time off from work. But God had other plans.
One Meetup member, Patti, who later shared her testimony on Saturday, had been praying for a miracle for “AJ” and God opened that door through a convenient shut down at his job leaving him no excuse not to attend the conference. It took a lot of courage to book a last minute flight to attend a Christian retreat for former Jehovah’s Witnesses after his rather recent exit from the Watchtower, but as he put it, he came to the Mountain to find God. And God made sure he got there.
Throughout the weekend, “AJ” was greeted, hugged, and encouraged by many at the conference, but one brother in particular connected with him and they shared some late night Bible discussions in Charles’ room. God opened that door too in advance for “AJ” because Charles’ wife usually attends the conference and shares a room with her husband, but she was unable to travel this year leaving that room open to Charles and late night guests like “AJ.” After a long Saturday night Bible study, “AJ” received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and participated in the communion meal Sunday morning among his Christian brothers and sisters who understood the spiritual battle won that allowed him that privilege so long denied by the Watchtower. Thank you, Jesus! I am convinced God led that man step-by-step and it was faith strengthening to watch how prayers were answered within each step.
The other surprise at this year’s conference was the announcement that there would be an opportunity for baptism in the pond on the retreat grounds. Martha, a first time attendee from our Meetup for ex Jehovah’s Witnesses, turned to me with tear rimmed eyes and said she was convicted during the talk and realized why she packed a swimsuit for a conference that didn’t advertise a pool or hot tub. So Saturday afternoon, a group walked together to the pond, sang hymns and cheered as a married couple from Poland and Martha were all baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and not “God’s spirit-directed organization.”
The testimonies and talks will eventually make their way to youtube and continue to impact the lives of those seeking words of encouragement, but nothing compares to the hugs and atmosphere of Christian love “up on the mountain.” It is my prayer that all whom God is calling out of the Watchtower will take those steps to attend next year’s 37th annual Witnesses Now for Jesus conference the weekend of October 9-11, 2015.
Keep yourself in God’s love,