I think many times the wrong statements are made about good JW's that are misguided victims trying to do their best. I can understand being angry at the organization, the governing body....but I think most seem to be genuine about their intentions and beliefs.
Question about "good works" ??? ???
Kristofer: You're right in saying that most JWs are good people, sincerely trying to do what they think is right. I have to say though, that your remark that they are victims troubles me. I never regarded myself as a victim whilst I was a JW, and I certainly don't view myself as HAVING BEEN a victim. I had a happy life as a JW. I see many, many ways that being a JW benefited me. When I realised that the Bible is the work of man, I stopped being a JW. I have no complaints. No victimhood here.
When I was a JW we would often 'do good' to non-believers as we went about our preaching work ( which we regarded as the ultimate way of doing good to our neighbours ), We used to ask the householders if they needed any practical help such as shopping or the collection of a prescription, etc.
If this is true, your congregation is either one of a kind, or British JW's are much more compassionate.
In the US I have heard of only ONE case where material charity was carried out - even for fellow JW's - as a matter of habit. That was one brother, unsupported by his congregation, in Pennsylvania. He told me more than once that his congregation looked down on his family for spending so much time on this work "that could have been better spent in service."
I became a JW in 1972, at the tail-end of the "fun with the Golden Rule" era. There were, from time to time, stories in The Watchtower or Awake! about people coming into The Truth™ as a result of acts of material charity combined with incidental witnessing. But in the early seventies these were already rare; and I don't remember any references in the literature recommending such acts as a valuable part of our ministry.
Indeed, beginning in the late seventies, the elders and meeting parts and even the literature began to warn us away from getting "too involved" in material charity.
I was a Witness in the US for 23 years. I have never heard Witnesses routinely offer to help householders with their daily needs as a part of their door-to-door ministry.
As it was explained to me, the reason JW's stay away from charitable work is similar to their abstention from politics: charitable organizations cannot solve the world's problems any more than the world's governments can. It's all just polishing brightwork on the Titanic.
GentlyFeral: I'm amazed at what you say. There was hardly a time in field service when we DIDN'T ask one or more householders ( who we suspected might need some practical help ) if they needed anything done for them. The example of Christ was presented to me at my pioneer school, and at the meetings, who gave people practical help as he went about his ministry. We followed that example. When I read the negative comments about JWs on this site, I find it extremely hard to reconcile them to my actual experience as a JW.
Charitably giving is eschewed in favour of the "Worldwide Preaching Work". This is in the literature, but I haven't got access to any right now.
What isn't in the literature, but which is encouraged (especially at Pioneer School) is using an opportunity to help a householder if it might give a "good witness", hence leaving the householder with a favourable impression that might be used to start a "bible study".
Basically it boils down to the fact that the only thing that is encouraged is preaching and converting people. Anything that doesn't contribute to that process is actively discouraged.
That having been said, JWs are still humans, and sometimes that humanity shines through the conditioning. There are some lovely people who remain JWs, who often find themselves getting burnt out and bruised, along the way. My exwife once confessed to me, with much guilt, that she'd given some money to the Red Cross. Personally I was proud of her, as I always made a point of giving to things like Cancer Relief, having lost a grandfather to it.
We were always told to help our brothers first. There is some scripture Paul or Timothy wrote that states to be kind to all but especially to your brothers. That was their reasoning for that. Witnesses think they are being charitable by doing the witness work. They feel it is the only real gift you can give someone. There have been cases where someone has made the comment at the door "I can't afford those magazines, I can't even afford food for my family." The JW's went out and bought some food for the householder and then were able to give their witness. So doing something like that was encouraged as long as it was putting the ministry first.
JW's NEVER give to charitable organizations aside from GoodWill and others that aren't church run. Red Cross, Salvation Army, Christian Children's Fund, Shriners, March of Dimes, St. Jude, etc. are not donated to because they were started by a church and that would be supporting christendom.
JW's do send help in disasters. When eastern NC was flooded, furniture and clothing was collected from congregations state wide and workers were sent down there to rebuild the flooded houses. When they finished with the Kingdom Hall and the brothers houses, they started on worldly peoples houses until their assigned time to come back. During 9/11 though, even though HQ was right there, they closed all of the windows and started reprinting tons of copies of an Awake about terrorism. This was how they "helped" those affected. They did not set up a tent for water, a few beds for hurt victims (even though they have an inhouse medical staff), a board for people to post pics of missing ones, or anything truly helpful. They just made magazines.
The Watchtower is a business masquerading as a benevolent religious organisation.
Are you sure you don't mean malevolent? :)
LittleToe: The practical help that we offered was usually to the elderly. We knew that they, having heard the good news of the kingdom for decades, were highly unlikely to become Witnesses. We helped them because they needed help. Yes, we wanted them to become JWs but if they were never to become Witnesses we would have STILL helped them.
You say that 'SOMETIMES ( JWs ) humanity shines through' and that there are 'SOME' lovely people who remain JWs.' My CONSISTENT experience of 22 years of association with JWs in 4 congregations, tells me that MOST JWs are lovely people, and that their humanity shines through MOST OF THE TIME.
From the Watchtower 12/15/50 "Religious Charity Versus Good Works":
Jesus’ "charity" was not measured out in money to religious organizations for questionable distribution. Jesus’ loving-kindness, tender mercy and bountiful gifts consisted of restoring the sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, curing the horrible disease of leprosy, opening deafened ears, and even raising up the dead. To the poor and downtrodden he untiringly preached the good news about God’s kingdom.—Matt. 11:5; Luke 7:22; 4:18.
The apostles Peter and John followed a similar course when they came upon a poor cripple who requested a donation. "Peter said: ‘Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I do have is what I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ With that he took hold of him by the right hand and raised him up. Instantly the soles of his feet and his ankle bones were made firm, and, leaping up, he stood up and began walking, and he entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God."—Acts 3:1-8, NW.
GOODWORKS, NOT ADVERTISED CHARITY
The gaudy practice today of bestowing honor and praise on heavy contributors to charity drives is directly opposed to Jesus’ counsel. "But take care not to do your good deeds in public for people to see, for, if you do, you will get no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you are going to give to charity, do not blow a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and the streets, to make people praise them. I tell you, that is all the reward they will get! But when you give to charity, your own left hand must not know what your right hand is doing, so that your charity may be secret, and your Father who sees what is secret will reward you."—Matt. 6:1-4, AT.
Judas Iscariot, one of those hypocrites that liked to make a show of his generosity, well represented those today that criticize Jehovah’s witnesses for not building hospitals, setting up food kitchens in slum areas. Such Judaslike ones announce with a blare of horns their personal gifts of mercy to the poor. Judas grumbled about Mary’s pouring costly perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet, saying that it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. "He said this, though, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money-box and used to carry off the monies put in it." (John 12:3-6, NW) What the woman did, however, was more pleasing in the sight of God on that occasion than a mere donation to the poor. Lacking real love, any contribution Judas would have made would have no value.—1 Cor. 13:3.
The people have been robbed and beaten and left half-dead by the ruling elements of this world, just like the "certain man" that Jesus told about who fell among robbers on his way down to Jericho. The Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religionists have observed the spiritual condition of these poor people but have steered clear of them, held aloof and passed them by on the opposite side of the road. Jehovah’s witnesses, on the other hand, like good Samaritans, have searched out these spiritually sick, maimed and half-starved people and, when they were found, have bound up their wounds, have fed them and cared for their needs.—Luke 10:29-37.
It is no secret, many so-called "charity" organizations operate a fraud and racket. For example, the New York Times, September 6, 1950, carried an account of how certain "religious charitable organizations" operating in Brooklyn, New York, are giving the poor only 15 per cent of the money they beg from the public. The other 85 per cent goes for what they call "overhead" expense. God’s faithful people cannot afford to donate to such organizations. They must use what they have to preach this gospel of the established Kingdom for the benefit of the poor everywhere, as commanded.—Matt. 24:14.
It takes much time, energy and money to carry out this divine command, but Jehovah’s witnesses are happy to use their substance to do it. Investing their money in Bibles and other life-giving literature, they take these to the people at great personal expense. But this is really a sound investment on behalf of the poor, for by so doing Jehovah’s witnesses are storing up treasures in heaven and helping others to do the same thing. And just as the ancient brethren of Macedonia and Achaia contributed material things for their needy brethren at Jerusalem, so also do Jehovah’s witnesses. (Rom. 15:25, 26; Gal. 2:10) All of these things are good works done out of love for and to the honor of Jehovah God.
From the Watchtower 2/15/00 "Are You Moved to Act As Jesus Was?"
17Our love and compassion should, of course, be manifest in our whole life course. This includes our being kind to the disadvantaged, sick, and poor—doing what we reasonably can to relieve their suffering. It encompasses our efforts in word and deed to dispel the grief of those who have lost loved ones in death. (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:33-35) Yet, such manifestations of love, kindness, and compassion must not become the main focus of our good works, as they are with some humanitarians. Of much more lasting significance are efforts motivated by similar divine qualities but manifested in sharing in the work of Christian preaching and teaching. Recall what Jesus said about the Jewish religious leaders: "You give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things." (Matthew 23:23) With Jesus it was not one or the other—either helping people with their physical needs or teaching them life-giving spiritual matters. Jesus did both. Still, it is clear that his teaching work was foremost because the good he thus accomplished could be of everlasting help.—John 20:16.
And from 6/1/03 "What Is Happening to Charity" and "Giving That Pleases God"
ToGive or Not to Give
It would be a shame, however, to allow the actions of a few individuals or organizations to squelch our genuine concern and compassion for others. The Bible says: "The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation." (James 1:27) Yes, active concern for the poor and disadvantaged is an integral part of Christianity.
Still, you might wonder, ‘Should I continue to give to charity, or should I simply try to help by personal gifts to individuals?’ What kind of giving does God expect? The following article will discuss these questions.
....When it comes to organized charity, though, we need to be cautious as we evaluate the many appeals we receive. Some charities have high administrative or fund-raising costs, leaving only a small portion of the collected money for the intended purpose. Proverbs 14:15 says: "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps." So it is the course of wisdom to examine the facts carefully.
GivingThat Does the Most Good
There is a kind of giving that is even more important than charity. Jesus alluded to this when a rich young ruler asked what he had to do to get everlasting life. Jesus told him: "Go sell your belongings and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come be my follower." (Matthew 19:16-22) Notice that Jesus did not just say, ‘Give to the poor and you will get life.’ Instead, he added, "Come be my follower." In other words, as commendable and beneficial as charitable acts are, Christian discipleship involves more.
Jesus’ chief interest was in helping others spiritually. Shortly before his death, he told Pilate: "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37) While he took the lead in helping the poor, healing the sick, and feeding the hungry, Jesus primarily trained his disciples to preach. (Matthew 10:7, 8) In fact, among his final instructions to them was the command: "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations."—Matthew 28:19, 20.
Of course, preaching will not solve all the world’s problems. Yet, sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom with all sorts of people glorifies God because preaching accomplishes God’s will and opens the way to everlasting benefits for those who accept the divine message. (John 17:3; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4) Why not listen to what Jehovah’s Witnesses have to say the next time they call? They come with a spiritual gift. And they know that this is the best way that they can give to you.