My Chance Encounter with JWs at the Door
Sometime around 1988 or 1989, my doorbell rang and it was a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As I opened my door, there stood two young ladies who appeared to be in their early twenties. One girl had short, wavy blond hair. The other was a Hispanic looking girl with long dark hair.
Randy Watters wrote a very good brochure called Opening the Closed Mind. It describes a strategy to use when speaking to JWs by using a “questioning” approach – rather than inundating them with information. His approach is designed to make JWs think, rather than giving them information they will only reject and experience “cognitive dissonance” with.
Since I rarely get JWs at the door, I thought this would be a good time to try out these questions on these gals at the door. In fact, I had memorized these questions and was eager to see how they would respond. The blond girl spoke first and introduced herself along with her field service partner. “Hi, my name is____ and this is _____ and we are here today to show you the Watchtower and Awake! magazines.”
I looked at these girls and said, “I know that you are Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’ve read your magazines before. But do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” The blond girl agreed.
I asked her the first question. “Do you believe the Bible was written for all people?” She gave a response which I knew was a lie. She said “Yes,” but we all know that JWs believe the Bible is an “organizational book” and applies only to their organization. I asked her the second question, “Do you believe that Christians have always existed in the last 2000 years?” To which her answer was “Yes.”
I probably got through about five or six more questions from Opening the Closed Mind. The other girl with the dark hair finally piped up and asked, “How many more questions do you have?” I told her I was just asking questions out of curiosity because I wanted to understand what they believed. Her response back to me that they weren’t interested in answering any questions, and they were only interested in finding converts to their religion. She also said that if I wasn’t interested in studying to become a JW, then they would leave. So I told her that no, I wasn’t interested in becoming a JW (little did they know that I was an ex JW), but I just wanted to understand their beliefs. The dark haired girl then said that they would be on their way. I thanked them for stopping by and told them that they would be in my prayers.
After they left, I began to pray for these girls. I knew their names at the time. I prayed for several weeks that they would leave the Watchtower organization. I also prayed that they would come back to my house or that I would see them again. I just kept asking God to cause something in their lives to happen that would result in their losing faith in the Watchtower Organization.
They never returned. As I said, this was probably sometime in 1988 or 1989. After all those years passed by I eventually forgot about them. And yet, even though I forgot all about them, I believe that God never did.
I later received an email from a lady named Lana. She told me that she was a former JW, had been a “pioneer,” and had lived in the same city where I’ve lived since 1982. She was looking for people that she had known while she lived in my area. I told her that I was never a JW since moving to this area. All of my JW years were in another part of the country, and when I moved here I didn’t know any other JWs – except for a few chance encounters at the door.
She said that she no longer lived in that area, but had recently moved to another county in the same state. She had a bad experience as a JW and found some of the “brothers” to be perverts who only had one thing on their mind when it involved her. She’d tried to live a “clean life” and to be a good pioneer, but was removed after a false accusation. In spite of that, she kept trying to go back to pioneering and to be a “good little sister” in the organization. It never quite worked out the way she thought it should have.
We exchanged a few emails and a few phone calls. We planned to meet at some point during her semester break from school, but it didn’t work out. I let her know that I run a support group for ex JWs and she was more than welcome to come. She agreed to visit, and we finally met on Sunday, January 25, 2004.
Lana came to the meeting and seemed to enjoy it. We have a very friendly group. I always provide refreshments and the atmosphere is very casual. Like most of the people who show up for my meetings, she was very nice and sweet. As far as I was concerned, I’d never met her before. However, someone else at the meeting who had talked to Lana said that she looked familiar. Lana’s response was that she “gets that all the time,” and that she often is “mistaken” for someone else.
Well, I thought, Lana didn’t look familiar to me. I was sure I had never met her. She had short dark hair, wore glasses, and looked quite young for being 37 years old. As Lana was leaving our group meeting, I gave her a hug, thanked her for coming, and I told her I would be in touch with her later.
After the meeting was over, I was standing around talking to a few people when I suddenly had a “flashback” of that chance encounter with the two girls at my door so many years before. I’d long since forgotten about it, but for some strange reason it suddenly came to my mind. Why?
The reason it came to my mind is because I realized Lana was the girl with the long dark hair at my door! Although I couldn’t prove it at the time, I had a VERY STRONG FEELING that she was that girl with the long dark hair who didn’t want to stand there and answer my questions. I wondered, could it really be her?
Sometimes a coincidence is not really a “coincidence.” It’s really a “God incidence”. This just seemed too bizarre to have worked out this way. I had to call Lana to find out if she was the girl at my door all those years ago.
When I first called her she wasn’t home, but I called again later and she was finally home. I told her about my experience with the two girls at my door. Then I asked her if she ever went out in field service with a blond girl who wore glasses.
At first she didn’t remember, but then she said that she suddenly had a “flashback.” She did remember being at someone’s door and speaking with a lady who was asking all kinds of questions. It was during her partner’s turn to speak when she finally spoke up and gave her little speech about how they were really “looking for converts.”
I felt that this was more than just a case of “deja vous.” We both were flabbergasted that it turned out that she really was that dark-haired girl at my door.
Lana remembered the street where I lived and described how they were standing at my door. She even remembered that I lived on a cul-de-sac, and that my house was on the east side of the street.
What really struck me was this: She told me that after they left my door, she had said to her partner, “I’ll never cut my hair and I’ll never quit pioneering.” She said that soon afterward she was removed as a pioneer and her life in the organization went downhill. She’d spent the last fifteen years trying to pick herself back up – still trying to be a good JW, but never being quite accepted.
Even now I’m amazed at how that chance encounter turned out so many years later.
Rarely do I ever see the results of my praying for JWs I don’t know personally. However, in this instance, I thank God that he sent this lady back my way. I truly believe that my “flashback” was a supernatural experience since I really didn’t even recognize Lana at first. I doubt that I would have been able to remember her all by myself.
I really do believe in the power of prayer and that we really need to pray for JWs that we meet at our door. We may never know how things will turn out. We never know what God has in mind. All we can do is try to “plant seeds” and then pray and trust that God is working on the rest.
Neither Lana or I know what happened to the blond girl. She moved away later and Lana never heard from her again. However, even though we don’t know what happened to her, we can still pray that she is out now – or will eventually come out of the Watchtower – as Lana did.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” 1Cor 3:6 (NASB)
You can read the original version of this article (2004) published on TowerWatch.com.