Warfare on Fort Worth Streets

 

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Encountering the so-called Jehovah’’s Witnesses

 Richard Hollerman

I would like to share a recent experience with you that remains vividly in my memory.  But first we need a little background.

Everyday we read or hear of conflicts between nations.  Armed conflict is frequently the way fallen men choose to settle disputes.  In today’s news, uprisings are happening in the nation of Iran.  Afghanistan and Iraq continue to be filled with violence.  War with North Korea may erupt at any time.

But there is another kind of warfare that continues unabated through history.  It is of even higher importance and greater consequence than any physical battle. The apostle Paul describes this in graphic terms:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Paul refers to a spiritual and unseen enemy that is far more dangerous than Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Mao Tse Tung ever were.  These spiritual enemies are more treacherous than Saddam Hussein, Uganda’s Idi Amin, or North Korea’s Kim Jong-il were.  They are unseen, they are evil beyond compare, and they are determined to deceive and destroy us.

Paul is speaking of the subtle enemy of our soul—the devil (Ephesians 6:11), also referred to as “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (2:2).  He deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9) and particularly works through his demonic forces or angels (Matthew 25:41).  One of the chief ways that Satan works is through false teachings, false practices, and false beliefs that are promulgated secretly by his demonic forces.  Paul says that some pay “attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).  John also warns us: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).  These false prophets and false teachers were being used by evil spirits who were determined to poison the hearts and minds of both believers and  unbelievers alike.

Are these evil spirits, under the command of Satan, active in our own day?  Indeed, they are!  This is why Paul warns us to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” and why he tells us that our struggle is not merely against human beings, per se, but men who are being used by these evil demonic spirits.

You may be wondering about the title of this message.  Is there really warfare—a spiritual warfare—on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas?  As some of you may know, about twenty years ago I began to have an outreach in public places.  This involved the distribution of Christian literature with various titles, depending on the needs of the situation.  Occasionally, someone would accompany me in these outreaches, but often it was a lone effort—not because I wanted it this way or because I could not see value in having trusted brothers and sisters with me, but because there were none to go along.

These efforts often took me to the local Convention Center, as well as convention centers in other cities in the area, and other public places.  These outreaches would include the “Health and Wealth” conventions, Home School conventions, Bill Gothard conventions, as well as ones sponsored by Baptists, Methodists, and others.  Sometimes I was well-received and many received the literature proffered.  I could distribute as few as 50 items for small events to as many as 1,500 for the larger events, such as the large Home School conventions.  Sometimes, five percent of the attendees would take the literature offered, and at other times, perhaps 70 to 80 percent would do so.

This brings me to one group that I have tried to reach, without any success.  I refer to the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses” at their yearly conventions.  Most of you know this as a zealous group whose members go out two by two, distributing their Watchtower and Awake magazines door-to-door.  They have won many lawsuits that defend their right to solicit from house to house.  We would admire their zeal, although it is a zeal without God’s knowledge (cf. Romans 10:1-3).  In this city, this aberrant group has conventions five weekends each summer, each attended by about 7,000 to 11,000 Watchtower Witnesses.  This past Lord’s day, my wife and I attended the first convention in this series.  It was a new experience for her—one that she will probably never forget.

Before we arrived at the Convention Center, we prayed that God would empower us and help us in this spiritual encounter.  We were aware that this group—more than probably any other contemporary cultic group—was closed to the truth, indoctrination by false teachers, and intent on defending and promoting vast amounts of false doctrine.  Our experience this week confirmed this assessment and reminded me that Satan is very active in this religious group, one that they insist on calling, “Jehovah’s Organization.”  It must not have dawned on these devoted people that Jesus Christ did not establish an “Organization” but He did begin an “organism”—His own body, composed of living “members” who are united to Him by faith and indwelt by His Holy Spirit.

When we arrived at the Convention Center, at least three Watchtower Witnesses immediately approached us and expressed concern in why we were there.  Apparently we looked different enough from the usual Witness that they suspected something.  Moni was very modestly adorned and I carried a regular Bible—not the ubiquitous small New World Translation that Witnesses carry.  We can give them credit for their vigilance and guardian attitude even if this is misused in application.

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

We attended the afternoon proceedings and lecture, which mainly consisted in urging the 10,000 people to remain true to the Watchtower Organization, saying that Jehovah must be their ultimate loyalty, as they battled the corrupt religious world system.  The theme this year was “Keep Alert!”  They warned the attendees that Jehovah wanted them to “keep alert” to false teachers, false ways, apostates, and other dangers, for Satan is intent on pulling Witnesses away from the Organization.  This was to be in agreement with Jesus’ command to His followers, “Be on the alert” (Matthew 24:42).  Ironically, the Witnesses were warning their followers to be on the alert for Satan’s activity and for those who would teach non-Witness views, but Jesus meant for His followers to be on the alert for His return and for all that would lead them astray—such as false teachers on the order of the false Watchtower Witnesses themselves!

Toward the conclusion of the afternoon’s meetings, my wife and I took our position outside the Center where some 10,000 Witnesses were to leave.  We had brought our little tract, “Life in Christ: The True and the Counterfeit.”  This is a title that can be found on the True Discipleship website.  (Click Here)  We were prepared to reach all who would be willing to receive the literature.

This is when Satan, through his evil spirits, immediately responded to our presence and intention.   We had noticed during the previous hour (as we waited for the meeting to conclude) that there were four to eight Witnesses in black suits, complete with name plates, and these official “guardians” observed us from afar.  In fact, what appeared to be the leader came over and greeted us, perhaps wanting to know why we were there.  As soon as we positioned ourselves outside the Center in a place where we could reach most of the departing crowd, these official men immediately came to me, surrounded me, and commanded me immediately to leave the Center premises!

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

It had been several years since I had confronted the Witnesses at this place and I recalled that on each occasion they were spiritually cold and unmoved.  Not a smile appeared on their faces.  The practice of their officials was to forbid any of their fellow-Witnesses to take any literature since they are not permitted to take or read any non-Witness literature.  If any unsuspecting Witness happened to take a tract, one of the leaders would reprimand him and take the literature from his hand or the Witness would give the literature back, as though it was unclean and a detestable thing!  Their intention was to forbid any Witness from taking the literature before he would even inadvertently take the tract.  The last time I was there some years ago, not one person took a tract—out of a total of about 10,000 Witnesses!

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

This was the case again this year.  In fact, it was much, much worse!  As I was saying, these men created a human barrier between me and the departing Witnesses.  They were a wall—both physical and spiritual—between me and the people.

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

If I held out a Christian tract to any man or woman, the Witness leaders would tell the members to refuse it—and the people would always promptly comply.  Surely none of them wanted to violate the rules that were issued from Brooklyn, their headquarters.  Nor did they want to disobey their local congregational elders.  They were not about to be placed in a position that would require their own disobedience to the Organization’s policy and eventually be excommunicated for departing from the Organization’s requirements.  Therefore, people would refuse to take anything.  A couple times someone did take something and then would give it back, when they were required to do so by their authorities.

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

 

The men commanded me to leave the area, but I replied that I had already checked with the police and the city attorney and this was entirely legal.  It was part of the principle of freedom of speech and freedom of religion that this country ensures.  With the Watchtower expertise in the legal matters of freedom of speech (which they enjoy in their door-to-door visiting), they surely were aware of this.  But the freedom that they experience, they were unwilling to grant me!  When I mentioned this to men with closed ears, they were unwilling to reply but only told me to leave immediately.  I retreated to the curb to make absolutely sure I was within legal limits.  (The city owns those ten feet from the street, and it is considered public property, therefore available for literature distribution.)  They were not satisfied but wanted me to entirely depart from the area.

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Then the Center security officers arrived and two of them told me to leave the area and wait for the police!  (A distributor doesn’t wish to hear this since every second counts when thousands of people are flooding from the doors!)  Since I had, years before, had a letter written by the Chief of Police himself, and since I had a letter from the City Attorney, as well as a letter from the Head of the Convention Center security, I felt confident in this situation.  In fact, when they threatened to call the police, I responded by insisting that they call the police—for I hoped that they would immediately recognize the issue of freedom of expression at a public place.

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Eventually, a policeman did arrive but he also commanded me to leave the premises.  Again, I explained that I had already checked and it is entirely legal to distribute literature in public places.  They said that the letters that I had (which I had not brought with me) were no longer valid since the writers of the letters were no longer in office.  Surely the police are aware of what is and what isn’t legal to do in public places, but the police in this case acted as though he was unaware of this and refused to abide by the law.  How amazingly shameful that law officers are pressured by false witness to act contrary to the law themselves!

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

The police said that he was about to arrest me and take me to jail if I did not move from the area.  The police said that I could distribute across the street but when I went there, he said to go one block further away.  When I hesitated, he again warned me that he was going to arrest me.  I then went a block away, but he forced me to the next block (two blocks from the entrance and from the original distribution area)!

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Even at this distance, about six or eight Witnesses leaders followed me and the police to make sure I was out of the area.  None of the members would dare to receive the tracts since they had already been brainwashed and indoctrinated by their insidious doctrine of refusing to accept non-Witness literature.

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

Probably one of the most disconcerting matters about the occasion was that we apparently saw first hand the Witness doctrine of “theocratic lying.”  This is a doctrine peculiar to the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses that states that it is permissible to tell an untruth—to tell a lie—if this is part of “theocratic warfare” and will advance the Kingdom of Jehovah.  Evidently we saw this doctrine in action when we were attempting to distribute.  When people would approach me, the officials would tell the people that we were “apostates.”  As you may know, this is a term that comes from “apostasy,” which means a “falling away.”  An apostate is one who has fallen away from the truth and the will of God.  Technically, it would apply to one who was a Christian and has fallen away from the Lord.  Yet, in another sense, it is appropriate to refer to even movements and people who have departed from the truth of Scripture, whether or not they have become true Christians.  Generally, in Witness parlance, an “apostate” is one who was part of their Organization and has left the Witnesses.

They are forbidden to associate or talk to such a person.  It was convenient for them to call us “apostates” so that the departing Witnesses would refuse to talk to us or receive our literature.  When we told them that we had never been Witnesses, thus were not “apostates” according to their definition, they would not hear it but continued to accuse us of being apostates.  Dear Moni pleaded with them again and again to stop their lying about this matter, but they paid no attention.  I quoted Revelation 21:8 to them, “All liars will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death.”  The Word didn’’t seem to convict them at all and they continued their dishonesty.  To be fair, perhaps they were using the word “apostate” in a broader way to refer to anyone who opposes official Witness doctrine and who attempts to convince Witnesses of the false doctrines that the Witnesses promulgate.  Either way, the Witnesses were wrong on this occasion.

Since all of this happened, I did speak to the City attorney, a kind and considerate person, to see whether an up-to-date letter could be given that would prevent this kind of travesty of justice in the future.  She just called today and said that she won’t be issuing such a document, but she did promise that she would consult with the chief of police and have him remind the downtown police officers of the law regarding the freedom of speech to distribute literature.  She also said that she would contact the head of security at the convention center and tell him to train their own personnel better.  This is not what I preferred since in the past it did not really work well.  They would still sometimes forbid my Christian work.  Someone once told me that I should allow myself to be arrested and taken to jail, then a couple hours later they would release me and apologize for the mistake.  Another one said that I had never been really initiated since I’ve never been taken to jail for preaching the truth!  A real preacher should have gone to jail at least once, according to him (to follow in Paul’s worthy example—2 Corinthians 11:23)!

 

Jehovah's Witnesses?

Warfare on Fort Worth Streets!

What did I learn through this experience?  It was a reminder that true Christians are involved in a critical spiritual battle with the powers of darkness.  What we read in Scripture is true: Satan and his evil forces (the evil spirits or demons) are definitely working through men and women today.  The devil is one who “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), and “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).  We know that Watchtower Witnesses and others are believing, teaching, and promoting “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1-2) and this demonic teaching has a tenacious hold on the hearts, minds, and lives of millions of people.

I could also see the importance of not lowering myself to the level of the opposition.  Simply because they were belligerent, doesn’t mean that I needed to be.  Simply because  they were uttering lies doesn’t mean that I needed to lie in return.  Simply because they were hardened and cruel and unkind didn’t mean that I needed to respond with like attitudes.  There surely is the need to be strong and courageous in this kind of spiritual battle, but along with this, we should be loving, kind, respectful, and considerate.  Paul encourages us, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26).  This fits the situation perfectly:  We need to be patient when we are wronged.  We need to practice self-control with our speech, even when they maliciously lie and oppose the truth.  If the Witnesses do us wrong by their coldness and belligerence, we can be patient—though strong—as we oppose their false doctrines.

We must always walk in the footsteps of Christ who, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return, while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).  Paul was similar, for he wrote that “when we are reviled, we bless” (1 Corinthians 4:12).  The world just can’t understand this nonresistant and humble response to unjust suffering—and neither can the militant Watchtower Witnesses.

We need to adopt a somewhat different attitude when we encounter the Witness at the door or the Witness neighbor across the street.  One-on-one, a Witness may be a good and respected neighbor or fellow-worker, but when their doctrine is questioned or the reliability of the Organization is challenged, we must be prepared for a possible fierce confrontation.   While we may be able to have a friendly and calm conversation on the weather or car repairs in a private way, we need to be ready to do spiritual battle when Satan actively works through the Organization to promote their insidious doctrines.  Paul said, “I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:16), and we must also take such a stance.

We also need to exercise much spiritual wisdom as we fight these spiritual battles.  Jesus warns, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).  When we are in the midst of “Witness wolves,” we need to be humble, innocent, and strong.  While we refuse to surrender in this kind of skirmish, we need to maintain a pure and devoted attitude before the Lord while we contend for the truth.  Let’s remember that many of these people think that they are right.  Jesus tells us, “An hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God” (John 16:2).  Just as the Pharisees thought that they were serving God, in like manner the Witnesses think that they are serving God even when they contradict sound teaching and oppose the truth!  Let’s give them the credit for this, while we pray that God will enlighten their hearts by His Spirit through His Word.

It is true that they are responsible for their spiritual blindness—yet Satan is the one who has blinded them (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  It is true that they must bear their own judgment, since God has made his truth plain enough to read, understand, and believe—if they have a teachable spirit.  Paul’s reference to those who “did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) is true of these devoted and committed Witnesses.  So they are responsible for their lack of love for the truth and their willingness to place their eternal welfare into the hands of Watchtower officials in Brooklyn, New York, along with their local congregational elders.  Yet we must have compassion and pray that God will open their eyes with the truth of His Word so that they may come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

I must confess that in all of my outreaches in public places to various religious groups, I have never seen such a display of blindness, hard-heartedness, close-mindedness, deception, and outright dishonesty as I found this past Lord’s day and at other times of outreach to this group.  My dear wife was astonished at this kind of lying and solid array against the truth of the Word.  She had never seen this kind of rude, disrespectful, and militant behavior before.  This is enough to make one tremble at the power of Satan at work in the world and particularly in the fabric of religious cults, isms, and deceptive movements.

Let us continue to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).  Let us “put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).  And let us be willing to distribute literature that will present the truth of the gospel so that at least some will be snatched out of the fire (Jude 23).  Always remember, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Do what you can to rescue the Witness who knocks at your door.  Don’t reject them but be willing to share the truth with them—lovingly, kindly and humbly.  Let them know that the Spirit of God can enable us to maintain a sincere and humble attitude, while we reject their theological lies and contend for the truth of God.  Let our loving demeanor and respect for the Word of God make an impact on their thoroughly benighted hearts.  Let our ultimate allegiance for the Scriptures stand in stark contrast to their unreasoning devotion to a human Brooklyn Organization and those who are the rulers of the Organization.  And may we have the same attitude toward those who espouse false doctrine in any form.

 

 

 

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