JWs studying with a neighbor: what should I do?

by john.prestor 14 Replies latest jw experiences

  • john.prestor

    So let me introduce myself first: I've lurked here for years because I'm working on a long-term research project concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and I've collected data from this site (seriously, you guys are awesome, I've learned so much from this forum I never would have learned otherwise). I've also collected data at multiple Kingdom Halls and read scholarly works on Jehovah's Witnesses and non-scholarly works as well (e.g., Crisis of Conscience). So I have a pretty good sense of Jehovah's Witnesses even though I was not raised in this faith nor did I ever join up. However, I was raised in a somewhat similar repressive, controlling religion which used fear and guilt to keep people in line.

    That being said...

    Today when I got home from grocery shopping I saw two well-dressed women standing in front of my apartment building; one was holding a "silver sword" under her arm. They knocked on a woman's window and she came out and said it wasn't a good time and they chatted briefly and the women left by the time I came back outside from putting away my groceries.

    So here's my dilemma.

    I don't know this woman, and I don't know how to gauge her interest in joining Jehovah's Witnesses; for all I know she just tried to put them off in my presence ("not a good time"). But from what I know about Jehovah's Witnesses their introductory material (What Does the Bible Really Teach?) does not give interested parties a balanced or even complete perspective on joining up. So I'm considering leaving this woman a letter telling her, "Look, this is your decision to make, and it's not my right to tell you what to do, but I think you ought to know... " and then mention a few things like disfellowshipping, the cover-up of child molestation, failed prophecies, etc. and maybe refer her to www.jwfacts.com.

    I'm nervous, however, that this approach could be spun by the two Witness women into "persecution" or "opposition" or "Satanic influence" if I don't word the letter carefully and she shows it to them, at which point the letter could backfire and the woman might feel emboldened in joining up. I'm looking for your advice, guys, on how I should approach this, and frankly, whether I should leave any such letter at all.

  • sir82

    Minding your own business is generally best, particularly with people you've never met.

    That said, why not introduce yourself to your neighbor? Once you are better acquainted, after a few weeks or months, she's more likely to accept your advice / warnings about JWs - i.e., you're less likely to come across as a loon if you tell her about JWs after knowing her better, rather than before.

  • Spiral
  • scratchme1010

    Welcome to the forum. I find what you're doing with your research really fascinating.

    I'd ask you how close are you to that person? I think it would be a little odd if you intervene in a person's activities out of nowhere. Otherwise, if you have some degree of connection with that person, it would be easy to have a conversation about it.

    Also, just leaving a letter seems a little "sneaky". How about striking a conversation, developing some rapport and maybe depending on what you'd get from that person, decide if/how to say something about it.

    I'd suggest to avoid coming across as some person that comes out of nowhere to warn somebody. That could actually backfire and spark more interest instead of the probable desired effect you want to cause.

    Normally I'd say "mind your own business" or something along those lines. Since you seem to have done some research, maybe sharing that with the person, without trying to influence their decisions, might be helpful.

    At the end of the day, people are free to choose what to believe, study and follow.

  • freddo

    Knock the door and speak with her - you ain't ruining her life are you? Far from it.

    "Hi - I'm (name) your neighbour and live (across the hall/number 9/upstairs etc) this might seem strange but I noticed Jehovah's Witnesses were calling on you - I know it's none of my business (lift hand and look down) whatsoever but (wide open handed gesture) my background forced me to just say - "please be wary" and check the structure behind the nice facade. I don't want to make you uncomfortable so just google Jehovah's Witnesses News is my respectful suggestion. That's all I wanted to say really."

    Lot's of open handed gestures - backing away as you finish the conversation so she has to call you back if she wants to talk more.

  • john.prestor

    Freddo, I took your advice and it went great, thank you. She said that she isn't studying with them but that she knows one of the two women I saw, she's a family friend, but my neighbor seemed genuinely concerned when I said that their organization covers up child molestation (that was the only specific thing I mentioned, I said it was in the news lately) and said she appreciated me coming by and something to the effect of she wouldn't "want to get involved in anything crazy like that." I kept it brief and I said if she wanted to talk more she was welcome to come by my apartment for coffee. We shook hands and she said it was nice to meet me.

    Thank you guy for the feedback, it really helped.

  • pepperheart

    Another thing that you could do for the future is see what reports of jw s there are in the press in your country.And any tv programs there have been about the jws

  • steve2

    Freddo’s advice seems the best of all answers - oh, I just checked: you followed it to great effect. Well done.

    Normally I would recommend leaving well alone - because if your advice is taken the wrong way, you may draw undue attention to the matters you raise and get the householder’s back up (“I’ll make up my own mind who my callers are, thank you very much!”).

    But Freddo has some really nice humble ways of broaching the topic.

  • JaniceA

    The OP got great advice and took it!

    One thing the OP might do generally when asked what they do it are passionate about or whatever is mention this years long educational quest and with no pressure make himself available to educate others. He has a wonderful, bias free perspective with no apostasy claims to be made and no agenda other than facts and education. We know it from inside out, but he has an outsiders perspective which may lend him credibility with certain people.

  • OnTheWayOut

    Great job, John. Thanks for stepping up a little out of your comfort zone.

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