“Do you speak English?” An elderly woman asked from the other side of the locked grilled front door of my rented holiday home near Benidorm. A second woman in her mid-40s stood alongside her. “I am English”, I replied; momentarily forgetting I was standing in just my budgie smugglers!
Unfazed, she asked a supplementary question “Do you believe protest changes anything?” Sensing that I was in the presence of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I invited them in to learn more about what they believed and in a misguided belief I could witness to them.
Over the next one-and-a-half hours I learned about the JWs’ belief that Jesus is not God; there is no Trinity; and that 144,000 is the capacity of heaven, the rest of them/us are merely in God’s memory. Disconcertingly each proposition was diligently cross-referenced to Scripture and I am ashamed to say I had great difficulty in answering them and had no text or defence readily to mind.
Belatedly, I found cold comfort from a former JW who says in Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses that many evangelical Christians were unable to answer the arguments he presented on the doorstep – even though he had only been trained for a few short weeks by the JWs. He says, “The first day I went witnessing door to door, I ‘defeated’ two Baptists, a Lutheran and three Presbyterians in dialectic combat! I was genuinely shocked by the biblical illiteracy of most Christians”.
Their arguments were presented in a sincere, polite and respectful tone but as the conversation progressed, cultish undercurrents became more discernible not least and sadly when I asked if we could pray together at the end of our discussions, they declined.
As they walked away into the Spanish sunshine, I felt humbled by their demeanour, boldness and desire to witness; their diligence in learning scripture; and embarrassed by my own witness but determined to be prepared in the future. In case you wondered, JWs do not engage in protests (Awake! July 2013).
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1