A sense of belonging. This is something our spirits long for with God and with one another. There’s no greater joy than to watch a new life born of Spirit take hold of their right as a child of God who belongs to Christ! (John 1:12; Romans 8:9) A need for acceptance is met as they begin their walk with God. With this, a hunger grows to fellowship with others as well.
Thank God for Meetups and Facebook! For many of us, connections with other ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses were first made on line. And that is how I met Martha.
In April of 2014, she joined our Meetup simply looking for the company of other former JWs. She began to follow the posts of others offering encouragement, humor, shared experiences and information regarding the Watchtower. Martha even began to ENJOY Bible reading by following along with a verse by verse discussion we featured in the book of Galatians. As often happens in our Meetup, she got a sense of belonging within the little group of regular posters among our members.
Koolaid Crew at Witnesses Now for Jesus Convention
As the 2014 Witnesses Now for Jesus Conference approached, Martha paid attention to our promotion of it on Meetup and took a step of faith to travel to Pennsylvania and meet in person some of the friends she’d met on line. While there, she took the plunge — literally — and got baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When she returned home, she and I began our weekly phone study in the gospel of John. I highly recommend anyone in online groups to try this. Just exchange numbers and set up a schedule to read the Bible together over the phone. There’s no need to follow a study guide, just allow the Spirit to teach.
Our study ended just as summer was beginning. My family and I took a trip to Yellowstone in June, while Martha’s summer travel plans included a trek through Wisconsin to attend my 3rd annual XJW FEST.
In summer, I host a small gathering on my property to provide an opportunity to visit with other ex-JWs over a casual weekend of kayaking and camping. Unlike the annual conference in Pennsylvania where Martha and I first met in person, this weekend in July has no scheduled talks, just fun-in-the-sun adventure! Martha brought her dog along, so the 2015 XJW Fest was the first time we’ve included a canine for the Saturday kayak trip. Princess rode along just fine and she didn’t even mind when her “mama” got a pie in the face for the annual pie fight on the river! I like to think of it as an initiation ceremony.
After our dinner and campfire conversation, Martha stood up and headed toward the camper she chose as her home away from home. The others may have missed her comment, but her words touched my heart as the highlight of the weekend. As she said good night, she thanked us all for a fun day and added that she felt understood and accepted. A sense of belonging. This is what online groups, small summer gatherings, and long running fall conferences for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses are all about. We need one another, because we understand one another.
Martha will be traveling again this fall. This time, she’ll be ‘up on the Mountain’ giving her testimony on Saturday, October 10, the second day of the Witnesses Now for Jesus Conference. It’s where she belongs.
For further information about the WNFJ conference, please see WNFJ-v2.com
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie