Abbie* came by today. She’s come by once every two to three weeks for the past 6 years, give or take about 3 months when she was undergoing surgery and recovery.
Abbie’s 14 year old niece, with her mother, and their New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, were the first to knock on my door one morning in 2001. The teen Jehovah’s Witness gave her prepared speech, but the questions I had flustered her and she asked if she might come back with her well-read Aunt Abbie to set me straight. I agreed, and Abbie responding to her niece’s call for assistance began our 6-year relationship.
Abbie met with me for over a year, every other week, to “study the Bible.” We covered many topics. I began with simply defending my faith from the gross distortions she had accepted as truth, or defending the Greek or Hebrew meaning of scriptures. She ran the show; I just tried to exonerate orthodox Christian theology. As I became braver (and more tired of getting together) I began to photocopy old editions of Watchtower magazine which demonstrated the false prophecies and/or changed positions on major themes of theology. She seemed surprised, and always took the copies with her. But, overall, we got no where. She wasn’t budging, and I certainly wasn’t either.
We finally discontinued our meetings. Abbie persisted in stopping by to visit every few weeks since then, to give me the newest editions of the proselytizing magazines, catch up on my life and share what was going on with hers. Since that extended, official time of meeting, Abbie has only come in one time for coffee and small talk, usually she just stays at the door for a quick catch-up conversation.
Well, today, Abbie asked if we could start getting together again.
I screamed, “Nooooooooo!”
Well, I screamed inside my head, that is.
Then, a still, quiet voice reminded me, “…always [be] prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” I have often prayed for Abbie over these years, and have wondered why she still comes around. Perhaps the Lord is moving in her heart? Or perhaps He has a work to do in my heart?
Born to Jesus hippies, I remember going door to door with my mom and dad to share the Good News. We went because my parents were so excited about what they had found in Christ. The Jehovah Witnesses go because if they don’t turn in their hour-sheets demonstrating that they’ve gone, they are in danger of losing their church membership. They are commanded and expected to do a certain amount of door-to-door visitation each week.
I also grew up watching my parents talk for hours with cultists who come to our door to share their faith. My mom taught me to focus on “who Jesus is” with the JW’s. My grandma taught me to offer a homemade meal to the missing-their-mama’s-home-cookin’ Mormon missionaries who come by (this worked very well the last time — we had a GREAT night hanging out with the Mormon boys, yet they have NOT come back — woo hoo!) I was taught that if I am blessed enough to have someone knock on my door and give me an excuse to talk about Christ, who am I to turn them down?
So I told Abbie yes. I told her I was only willing to meet once a month, tho. And I’m praying for more courage this time, to be more forthright and bold. To be kind and accepting, yet not shy about the truth. To be friendly, yet to be enough of a friend to shine the light on dark places. I don’t want to get stuck on theology either. I want to be simple and wise — two attributes that do not come naturally to me. May the Spirit that is within me testify to the Grace that has found me!
If you are a Christian, please pray for Abbie. Abbie and others like her are swimming in dark, murky waters of mind-controlling, manipulating religion. Pray that God would move within her to question the status quo and consider thoughts of her own. Please also pray for ME in this endeavor! I want to use this opportunity to help my boys become stronger in the Word, to see their mom research and struggle and pray through different ways of thinking. I want the boys to learn that God can stand up to our scrutiny, and yet that it is His Spirit who does the converting, not our fancy words or lofty thinking.
I would also love to post my research and my conversations with Abbie to help others learn how to talk to those who come to their door to “study the Bible.” Since I became a stay-home mother, I realized that we are the ones who meet the majority of these missionaries. My hope is to help other homemakers become aware of this ministry at their doorsteps.
*not her real name