WHAT IS ACTIVISM?
- Are you active in exposing the Watchtower?
- Do you think those who left should tell their stories? Where and how?
- Did you receive help from an XJW or someone who would be considered a counter cult activist?
- Is it enough to be out, or do you wish you could help those still in the Watchtower?
I posed these questions to the Meetup members on our discussion forum for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses because last month I reported how a man in my area felt led to distribute question cards on the cars parked at the Memorial held by Jehovah’s Witnesses. He made his presence known there by holding up a sign that read “4jehovah.org” in the hopes that some Memorial attendees would research the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He expressed an idea of making a soapbox style gospel presentation but allowed the cards and sign to do most of the talking.
In contrast, that night for me was spent in prayer with others on our Prayer Meetup.
Which activity is activism and which one best reflects the personality of Christ?
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)
Zeal can be expressed in several ways it seems.
When I walked out of the Kingdom Hall in 2003, I had no intention of being any kind of active apostate. In fact, I was only taking a break, I thought I might go back. When they disfellowshipped me a year later, I still had no desire to come against the Society, I just sought my own peace with God and that was a very necessary step.
As I became more aware of what had happened to me in the Watchtower, I just shared my story naturally and through it ended up encouraging others on their way out as well as teaching the uninformed public. In this same way, many of us become “activists” as we tell co-workers, friends, neighbors and non-JW relatives about our journeys.
I know that when I was an active JW, I would’ve thought poorly of the witness my friend gave that Memorial night. In fact, a man protesting in a parking lot would’ve just INCREASED my faith in the Watchtower thinking I must be in “the truth” because we were being persecuted for being Jehovah’s Witnesses.
However, here on the outside now, I look at all the different ways I benefited from the witness others gave along the way. Yes, I remember the “apostates” at the conventions and being warned not to talk to any of them. Yet, their presence there made me curious. Yes, I remember being told not to read Ray Franz books, but when the time came, I sure did and I’m glad he wrote what he did. Yes, I remember the few Christians who invited me in with my Watchtowers as they tried to reason with me. In fact, I visited a few after I came out. Yes, I remember being told the dangers of Satan lurking on the Internet and when I finally got over my fear of lightening bolts striking me if I did, I thanked God for people who exposed the lies on those sites! I credit my final coming out, though, to having a one-on-one emailing relationship with a pastor who was no son of thunder activist slamming the Watchtower every chance he got. He was gentle and had no need to present every false prediction and failing of the Watchtower Society to me because I was doing my own research by that time. He simply kept presenting the gospel and I could see his faith in those emails. I was benefiting all along from many ministries and styles then wasn’t I?
As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I don’t consider myself a “son of thunder” type, but I have had my moments. I’ve done some “active” protesting, but mostly I’m a background prayer warrior when it comes to coming against the powers that be in the Kingdom Hall. My main interest is in the Witnesses already transitioning out and encouraging them in the path God has already called them to. I’ve never been big on researching all the details of the Watchtower’s past, yet I’ve personally benefited from others who’ve had the fire to do that and passed their research on to others who needed to see it. I’ve never been real drawn to protesting outside of conventions or Kingdom Halls, but I’m encouraged to know others are out there exposing them. I see it all as good and though I personally don’t want to join this man in canvassing the parking lots of the local Kingdom and Mormon church, I feel it would be judgmental of me to stop him from doing so.
Who am I to say what might come about as a result of his efforts? He’s obviously wired in this way. He’s a son of thunder. He’s also in a different position than I am since he never was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If I show up at my old Kingdom Hall, they’d just say “yep, she left the truth and now look what she’s doing.” I did tell him I may go to the Mormon church, but I’d want to play the role of interested person and simply raise questions after the service not take on any active protest holding up a sign. In fact, that “interested person” role is something I’ve done and will do again. Last summer I went to a District convention for Jehovah’s Witnesses and blended in with them raising innocent questions designed to leave them with something to think about. It was peaceful and kind, not an abrasive protest. And I’ve also sat in on a Watchtower Bible study this past year appearing as an interested friend with the same goal.
No one HAS to expose the Watchtower, yet I’m glad some are called to do so. I believe that every Christian has a work prepared in advance for them (Eph 2:10) and for some of us, it is a ministry to those affected by cults. Not all are called to that but I know that I am. I know that the man at church is. And yet, we go about it in different ways. Our personalities and our circumstances are designed to lead us in separate areas of the same ministry is the way I view it. I don’t want to join his form of activism, but I do want to take seriously the concerns of how his appearance in the Kingdom Hall’s parking lot is viewed by active Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’m glad that my background can help him understand their mindset and adjust his approach.
My conclusion remains that God is in control. He makes ALL things work for the good of those who love Him. What I consider a “bad witness” may be just that to me, it may be the very thing that helps another person. When Cletis, the pastor who helped me through email, appeared, it was like he was custom made just for me at that time. He was conservative enough not to offend the person I still was as a JW, and yet free enough to open up the person I was becoming in the liberty of Christ. His style may not have helped someone else who needed a research hound with lots of Watchtower articles that exposed their errors. And so it is with personality types. I know that the way I share the gospel blesses some and rubs others the wrong way. I feel the same way about other Christians. I may acknowledge them as my brother or sister and know they are advancing the kingdom, but their presentation may not be my type and yet by being who they are and expressing the faith in the way they are designed by God to do so, they are drawing others to Him.
There are many kinds of activities out there for people who desire to help others caught up in the Watchtower. I invited the Meetup members to add to the list I came up with on “Activism.” You’ll note that some require the “son of thunder” personalities and some require the quieter types. Maybe you’ve done some already.
- Being available for those just leaving who need a listening ear, a friend
- one-on-one Bible study to help a JW untangle the doctrine
- Praying for those engaged in ministry to JWs and for those affected by the Watchtower
- Protesting in Kingdom Hall parking lots, Bethel, conventions etc.
- Writing letters to active JWs
- Going undercover as a Bible student to reason with an active JW
- Going undercover at conventions to raise questions with active JWs
- Producing YouTube videos to inform or expose JWs
- Commenting on YouTube videos where JWs lurk
- Teaching the general public about JWs through community ed classes, church, etc.
- Sharing a blog about your JW experiences
- Using your facebook wall as place to expose the Watchtower
- Writing letters to the Watchtower main branches or local Kingdom Halls
- Sponsor ministries devoted to helping expose the Watchtower
- Write a book about your JW journey
- Produce signs, cards, print material for those who protest
- Raise awareness about the Watchtower in your every day conversation
- Use your talents in music or art to inform the public about the JWs
- If you are a Christian, learn to effectively share the gospel with JWs and those seeking God
- Write to TV talk shows, news programs asking for shows to be done on the WT
- Participate in the radio talk shows already in place for former JWs
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Pro 31:8-9 NIV)
Keep yourself in God’s love,