BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD
SERVING GOD OFF SCRIPT
January 6, 2014
"Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things." – Matthew 28:19, 20
These words were the last of our Lord Jesus Christ as he left the earth for the heavenly glory that awaited him. His message of sonship with God and the brotherhood of mankind remains unchanged to this day, though mankind has changed. By being diverted from the message, religions have become organizations, with hierarchies, laws and self-interest. They seek to control their flocks and direct their members on how to worship, and how to preach.
Religions may help the poor, aid the underprivileged, organize prayer books or focus on various forms of healing. But we find that the actual preaching work Jesus commanded (Matthew 24:14) often takes a back seat. Jehovah's Witnesses are well known for their commendable door-to-door ministry with much literature placed in the hands of people yearning for change in the world, but without such literature, many brothers and sisters find it difficult to conduct their ministry using just the Bible. This creates a heavy reliance on a formatted script and reluctance to speak freely of the Good News. As a result, the introduction to the plain and open teachings of Jesus is hindered and stifled; there is not freeness of speech.
A Scripted Ministry
That is how we felt, as husband and wife, when we belonged to the Watchtower organization. One of us was bought up as one of Jehovah's Witnesses; the other became a Witness at age 19. We worked hard in the ministry, and fulfilled our requirements for meetings, assemblies, eldership, pioneering, and hospitality to our brothers and sisters. One of us early on accepted the gift of sonship. We bought our children up with God's standards, that have certainly benefitted them in life, and we treasure our time there. Together, as a married couple we served for 35 years. But no more, as we have come to realize that we were preaching "another sort of good news." (Galatians 1:6-8)
Recently, we discovered that Christ wants his wonderful message of sonship with God to be told in the way he explained it. He desired the message to flow from the hearts of his disciples, just as he spoke, without restriction and that is how we want to bear his message now. We want to follow that command of Jesus and do the preaching work, with the emphasis on his command not the commands of men – ‘following his steps closely.’ (1 Peter 2:21)
We have seen the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses go to great lengths to formulate what is to be spoken in the ministry, what is to be offered and when to talk to individuals. Each month, prearranged presentations for use in the ministry are published, and rehearsed and then put into practice. We found this difficult to follow as it did not always feel right; we were parroting someone else's thoughts. And then, if we did not use the script, we felt guilty that we were not following the Society’s direction. You could make some changes, for sure, to suit your personality, but it still had to coincide with a magazine, tract or book. This became mundane as every household that we went to, we repeated the same introduction, though sometimes it changed according to who would answer the door. But it was not satisfying. It became a rigid ministry. It was not an individual ministry. It was not our own. It was a script-based one-size-fits-all ministry that did not allow for individuality or spontaneity.
We now understand to a fuller extent Jesus' purpose in coming to the earth, specifically to show us the way to the presence of the Father Himself. (John 14:6) Once we understood this, we had a true relationship and we wanted our ministry to do justice to that message. We now truly do know the truth about Jesus’ mission to earth, and how the Spirit of Truth works and helps us as never before. Jesus has come to the forefront in our lives, the way our Heavenly Father wants it to be. We had been veiled, blinded, but now we step forward into the light. (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
We had faith that Jesus left a helper for us in the spirit of truth. And we had the conviction that the spirit would aid us if we were ever called upon to defend the good news in courts or before officials. (Matthew 10:18-20) But would the spirit assist us in the ministry also? Most definitely! We are now for the first time in our lives truly "aglow with the spirit." (Acts 18:25)
Freeness of Speech
Accordingly, we realized we can serve and minister for our Father Jehovah and speak of the message of His son in a manner that gives us dignity, self-worth and confidence, without these prearranged scripts. By allowing the Spirit of Truth to work with us and guide us, we have accomplished so much more. Each time we open our mouths to speak of the wonderful teachings of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Truth has the opportunity to work with us. He uses the knowledge stored in our mind, activates it and together the message is poured out. (John 14:26) We were especially moved by the Apostle Paul who expressed the value of being able to speak freely and with boldness:
“Pray also for me, that the words may be given to me when I open my mouth, so that I may be able to speak boldly in making known the sacred secret of the good news, for which I am acting as an ambassador in chains, and that I may speak about it with boldness, as I ought to speak."
– Ephesians 6:19-20
Paul spoke boldly of the message of Jesus to unite mankind into a brotherhood, a family worshiping freely and speaking freely. We also wanted this, a freeness of speech, not an organized script, and those words of Paul's ring true to us now.
Now that our circumstances have changed, we often recall Jesus words:
"For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst."
– Matthew 18:20
We really felt this applied to us when we stopped attending the meetings. We felt the freedom that was meant to be, the freedom to speak, worship and live the way our Lord Jesus wanted us to. We were free in all aspects of life! Oh most certainly 'the truth will set you free.' (John 8:31, 32) Does that mean that we have forsaken the gathering of our selves with others? Absolutely not! Our freedom of worship allows us to gather with all types of people and have an interchange concerning the kingdom message.
Jesus is not physically with us as he was in the first century, but now we are coming to understand the fullness of the Spirit of Truth. He truly is with us whenever we meet with someone, because that spirit is right there, along with the heavenly spirit creatures, keenly observing us, as we express our faith, encouraging our future brothers and sisters to eagerly take up the ambassadorship of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) What a joy!
Jesus did it, the early Christians did it, and so, we thought we can do it. All we needed was willingness, the record of Jesus ministry, and the Spirit. It is the same message, and the same spirit.
Looking around the world we see an awakening to the message of Jesus and his religion because our eyes are no longer veiled and we do not see the doom and gloom everywhere. We joyfully see the coming together of the sons of God and the goodness of all mankind. We are not ignorant of the fact that there is badness in the world, but knowing the spirit of Christ is at work in administering the affairs of his Father, we cherish the opportunity that has been given us to be able to see these developments. It is a challenge, but there is nothing greater. We have put ourselves in the position of receiving blessings untold and seeing the fulfillment of John’s vision:
"With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: "Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away."
– Revelation 21:3, 4
An Unscripted Ministry
From the Wife:
Not allowing the spirit of truth to lead us individually was harmful to me. I honestly did not fully believe it was real. I connect now with the inward spirit, or the fragment of God and the Spirit of Truth, the helper that is to aid us. In the past, I felt so inadequate to speak on my own. I could not start up a conversation without having a piece of literature in my hand. Even though I knew the true Good News, so many times I held back the divine message, and of course, I felt guilty for not speaking up. I was restricted in telling people of the wonderful message of our Father's purpose in having us as sons and daughters. I was speaking the wrong message, and of course that did not help. I relied upon those formatted scripts, so my ministry was not my own under these circumstances. My tongue was bridled and controlled. This was not speaking freely, of my own accord.
Recently, I have been able to talk of so much more. It is as if the 'veil' has been lifted. There is a oneness with people of all religions who believe in heavenly life as sons of God. What a difference this has made. When it is mentioned, strangers have held my hands with both of theirs; they have hugged me and spoken freely with me of the wonderful future in the heavens. (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10) There was no guilt, no constriction, just free flowing words. I did not have a magazine or book to rely on; just the words of Jesus in my heart and the Bible in hand.
I truly saw the flow of the spirit, the power granted by Jehovah God. Though, on occasion, I did not get a favorable reaction from Jehovah's Witnesses who are still spreading the 'other sort of good news' of life on earth. But I press on looking forward to the day their 'veil' will be lifted as well.
From the Husband:
It was a beautiful sunny day. I started out at 7:30 in the morning. I drove into the city, parked my car and talked to the parking attendant who was once a regular magazine route. That interaction began the spirit movement. I had intended to go to a hardware store, but found myself turning towards the market place. It was going to prove to be an exciting morning unbeknownst to me.
First, I talked to some Pentecostals about sonship on a different level than ever before, talking as one brother to another in the Lord. They expressed their freeness and our conversation was an interchange of encouragement. (Proverbs 27:17) As I ventured through the aisles, I met many that had been on my ‘return visit list’ as a Jehovah's Witness preacher, but to talk to them now was a totally different experience. The truth had set me free to just go with the spirit. One person said that I seemed to be in a 'flurry of excitement' of having so many warming experiences. That same person expressed their relationship with Christ, but their expression did not have the same joy. I hope I can help him change that! Then a person of the Baha'i faith expressed his excitement about a coming change. I was talking freely, as never before. I now feel as I interact with the people that we could really be brothers.
Heading on to the top of the market, I noticed a group of Jehovah's Witnesses standing together witnessing to persons who walked past. I had stood there myself on many occasions as one of Jehovah's Witnesses; I had enjoyed doing that in the past. I knew most of them and had previously spoken to some of them before about sonship and heavenly life for all. But it had caused quite a controversy with phones running hot amongst the elders, so much so that I was approached by the local elders and told not to talk to any of the Witnesses in the future. I quickly replied that they reminded me of the Pharisees of the 1st century and quoted the apostles reply:
"We positively ordered you not to keep teaching upon the basis of this name, and yet, look! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us." In answer Peter and the [other] apostles said: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men."
– Acts 5:28, 29
So, feeling free, I headed to the group to say hello, I shook the hand of the Ministerial Servant in charge, but he would no let go of my hand. Much to my surprise, he forcibly pulled me a couple of meters away from the group, which dispersed rapidly – a little like the parting of the waters. At first it startled me, but I got emboldened by the spirit and said “I will join you in the witnessing work.” But then they quickly went off for coffee.
This did not rattle me, and my sojourn continued witnessing to other listening ears. I also met an unbelieving husband of a Witness sister who I gave a card to with the site of AnointedJW on it for his disfellowshipped daughter. It was as if Jesus was opening doors of opportunity everywhere. It continued on where I met so many that were responsive to the message.
It all comes with a price though, at arriving home only 2 hours later, my morning of activity had come to the notice of the local elders, phoning family members about my meeting with the witnesses that morning. Apparently, the elder commented, that it was ‘another nail in the coffin for me.’ This developed into a lot more, but I am so happy knowing that we can make a difference, causing an agitation, even though we may get backlash. But the end result will be that we can be brothers in the Lord. I hope that eventually, these Witnesses and all members of religions will turn to Jesus Christ and know of the truth about sonship with God. I do not allow my mind to think otherwise.
To stand up and be zealous does cost, just as it did for Stephen and the apostles, but it promotes our sonship with God to those that oppose us. (Acts 7:59, 60) And eventually, they may all come to know of the marvelous prospect that awaits us in the heavens. It is a pleasing knowledge.
My wife and I have a ministry of our own that we cherish. We have left Jehovah's Witnesses, and we feel free as we could not stay in an organization that taught untruths. How could we be true to ourselves, having the knowledge now of the real truth of sonship with God. We would be continually trying to work around an organization that does not teach that message. It would be truly hypocritical. Our stand has not diminished our love for our brothers as individuals. Whenever we are able to, we ‘impart some spiritual gift’ (Romans 1:11) to the best of our ability. And we pray that the hearts of the Governing Body soften and turn to the plain teachings of Christ Jesus so that the nearly 8 million who have chosen to remain can be saved.
The actual movement of getting out and doing the witnessing work, talking to all sorts of people with the plain and open teachings of Jesus is beyond whatever joy I may have had in the organization for over 40 years; it is beyond comprehension. No matter what these brothers do with me, it is the time to take our stand as a united brotherhood against the falsehood of any manmade organization.
As a husband and wife, we encourage all that this is not a time to be silent and controlled with a script of words, but to be bold, allowing ourselves to speak impromptu with faith in the spirit. To be spontaneous is a wonderful gift to display. Seeing a calmness come over people with the very mention of Jesus name, let alone his message, is truly exhilarating.
It seems to us that the Spirit of Truth works with the people we speak to, in their inward spirit, because they naturally respond to the words that we speak. We found there is an interaction of our spirit and their spirit, freely allowing the words of Jesus to well up into our heart, to let them come to our lips and utter them with no script in hand. We remember:
"Now Jehovah is the Spirit; and where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom."
– 2 Corinthians 3:17
The Spirit of Truth gives us the courage and strength; we do not rely on prearranged scripts for they are nothing compared to the power of this God given force. Under no circumstances do we underestimate the power of the Spirit of Truth; he infuses us to express ourselves with strength and conviction always being nearby to help us. At that moment, our words of Jesus plain and open teachings flow gracefully and without hindrance.
We have gladly taken up the ambassadorship of Christ; it is our responsibility to take on the harvest work of reconciling the sons of God in the Christ. (Matthew 9:37; 2 Corinthians 18-20) We have seized the moment, believing with complete trust and faith that we always have the Spirit of Truth working alongside us. Our Lord Jesus Christ is maneuvering things in the world now. We see that this is the time and we want to be part of it.
We have taken the step to have an unscripted ministry, to show our love for fellow human beings from the heart, and take on the opinion that we are individuals ministering for Christ and assisting other individuals to light their beacon, to the honor and glory of our Heavenly Father.
Associate Writers of