I dont like being caught off guard. Especially when unexpected guests show
up and the house looks like a strong wind just blew through it. Even worse are
days like the other day, when the doorbell rang and I was in my frumpy blue
housecoat, hair flat against one side of my head and face devoid of color. I
considered pretending I wasnt home, but after a few seconds of contemplation I
answered the door.
A Jehovahs Witness stood before me, with her protg not far behind. Uh
oh. I was face-to-face with my dread of being caught off guard.
It wasnt the first time. In fact, it was probably the twentieth. And my
track record is dismal. My mind always races: What should I say? Am I
prepared to explain my faith? What if they ask questions I cant answer?
Typically I let them talk, then engage in a varied debate-at-the-door approach
thats sometimes polite and other times more passionate. But I inevitably end up
with the same sinking feeling: I blew it again.
I stumbled over tenants of faith, tripped on my tongue and fell flat on my
theology. However (as usual), I soon regained my balance. Within minutes of
their departure I was pondering clever points that would have kept those ladies
up all night. Bible verses flew into my mind. I wanted to go outside and
holler, Come back! Come back! But they were now at my neighbors door.
Opportunity walked awayagain.
Leave! or Lead?Frustrated by failure, Ive asked: How
do others handle this situation? Does anyone know what to do when cults come
calling? I took an unofficial survey, and these were the results:
Dont answer the door.
Answer the door. Say youre not interested. Shut the doorfast.
Inform them, Im an evangelical Christian. I view the Bible differently from
you. Shut the doorslowly.
Engage in a short or a very short debate depending on your ability to
converse at the moment.
Its a spiritual battle. Not ready to fight? Retreat.
Prepare something clever in advancelike a stash of tracts in a drawer. Ill
take your literature if youll take mine
Take a risk. Invite them in.
Study their beliefs and hope you remember what you learn. (Also, hope you
arent wearing a frumpy blue housecoat, with hair plastered to the side of your
Conclusion: most of us feel inept. Were not sure what to do when cults come
Witnesses of good newsThe North American Mission
Board Interfaith Evangelism Team has developed resources to help on
mission Christians respond to members of cult religions. According to
their website (www.namb.net/interfaith), they seek to convey factual and reliable
information about American religions and to equip Southern Baptists to be
effective witnesses of the gospel to all people.
Rudy Gonzalez, director of NAMBs Interfaith Evangelism team, gave me insight
into this cult. Jehovahs Witnesses take pride in being representatives of
Jehovah and look forward to bringing to people the good news of the Watchtower
Bible and Tract Society, which they believe is Jehovahs earthly organization
founded in 1914 and based in New York. In his experience, most dont feel afraid
or intimidatedeven when people are rude or shut the door on them.
He says Jehovahs Witnesses prepare constantly. Every week they attend
intensive training in the Theocratic Ministry School where theyre coached on
content and delivery of their good news presentation, practicing memorization
drills and role-playing to anticipate possible scenarios.
Their version of the good news is that Jehovah has created an organization
on earth through which they can earn their place in restored earthly paradise
through obedience to the organization.
I asked Rudy what he does when a cult member rings his doorbell. I always
invite them in and tell them I am a sincere student of the Bible, he says.
After letting them talk for a while, I ask, What do Jehovahs Witnesses say a
person must do to be saved? They have no simple answer to this question.
They maintain that salvation is available only to those who give unquestioning
obedience to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
Rudy then presents the biblical plan of salvation, emphasizing that Christ
died to redeem all from sin. He tells them they can be saved by grace
through faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, regardless of
organizational membership. Rudy explains that Gods plan is for a personal
relationship, not organizational affiliation.
Jehovahs Witnesses are prepared when they arrive on our doorsteps, ready to
share their version of the good news. How ready are we to reveal the real Good
Dont be naiveIts important for Christians to have
knowledge about cults. Satan uses them as deceptive traps to snare vulnerable
people, destroying many lives in the process. Not everyone can be an expert,
but we need to learn the enemys tactics.
1 Peter 5:8 says, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil
prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Also, in Ephesians 6:11, Put on the full armor of God so that you can
take your stand against the devils schemes. God wants us to take an active
role in defeating Satan.
Love requires that we care about the unsuspecting people who hear and
believe lies. It also requires that we tell the truth.
ResourcesInformation on the NAMB Interfaith
Evangelism Team can be found on the web at www.namb.net/interfaith.
The following web page contains information on conferences and workshops as
well as articles and other information about cults and religious movements:
Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovahs Witnesses by Ron
Rhodes. Its a simple, step-by-step method to help lay people become more
effective in this area. Order online or from Christian bookstores.
Jehovahs Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse by David Reed discusses
using scripture to address Jehovahs Witnesses misinterpretation of the Bible
and how to use scripture to share the gospel with them. Includes beliefs,
history and Bible alterations of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin is a comprehensive guide
on cults worldwide including the history and beliefs of cults as well as the
biblical response. For quick reference, the electronic version of the book is
included on CD-ROM.
The Bible is our greatest resource. Read, study, ponder, apply and share
Practice telling your storyOne way to share the truth
is to use our lives as examples. How did Christ captivate my cold heart? What
was I like before I met Him? How did He redeem me? 1 Peter 3:15 says, But
in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do
this with gentleness and respect
In other words, I shouldnt quickly slam the door, treating a Jehovahs
Witness as an intrusion to my otherwise perfect day. While I have a captive
audience, I have an opportunity to tell how I came to know my Savior.
Does God really want us to do that? Of course. I dont know about you, but I
have work to do. Writing (and practicing) my testimony would be a good start.
No need to be elaborate: just include the basics of my life before I met
Christ, how He became my Savior and what life is like now.
The next step is to share it. Salvation is not a secret to keep, but a story
I also need to study my Bible, becoming familiar with verses that explain
salvation. Some Christians are like meuncomfortable describing my beliefs and
not sure where to find the relevant scriptures.
God wants us to learn more about Him and proclaim the Truth to friend and
Its like the piano. If were going to be good at sharing the Good News, it
takes practice, practice and more practice.
Depend on the spirit1 Corinthians 2:4-5 says, My
message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a
demonstration of the Spirits power, so that your faith might not rest on mens
wisdom, but on Gods power. Our limited knowledge doesnt suffice. Even if
we speak brilliant words in eloquent ways, people will still stuff fingers in
their ears. They may pretend to listen while politely ignoring us. However,
thats when the Holy Spirit gets busy unplugging ears and opening eyes.
Consequently, its vital to ask Him to be behind, before, above, below and
especially inside us. I work to keep my own ears free of fingers, listening for
His voice that brings spiritual discernment to situations. Ive learned that its
an incredible experience to cooperate with the Spirit and a lot more
Jesus told His followers in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when
the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in
all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. He didnt give the
option of opting out. Jesus said we will be His witnesses. We
represent Christ to the world. Our mission field has no fences. It includes our
jobs, schools, stores, streets and neighbors across the backyard and across the
sea. Opportunities to witness are always knockingthey even ring doorbells.
Marla Kohmetscher is a writer living in Axtell, Nebraska.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC