This article is part of a series, to read the first article in the series click here.
My morning began today with a Burger King breakfast sandwich in the basement of a Kingdom Hall. George, my Jehovah’s Witness friend, who invited me to join him for a weekly Bible study, was running late so he decided to get us breakfast on the way. Coffee and breakfast sandwiches “the southern style”, as he put it, with jam on top. “Southerners love sweet and savory together, I’ve been eating breakfast sandwiches like this my entire life.”
We spent the first half-hour or so just talking about our lives. He was genuinely curious about my job, my interests, and listened to me talk about environmental policy for an unusual amount of time. Honestly, I like the guy, and I’m glad to be embarking on this study with him.
As we get into our discussion, he begins to lay out for me several of his proofs of the divine inspiration of the Bible. They’re interesting if nothing else. He lists scientific, prophetic, and historical proofs, and goes through each of them with me, encouraging me to read the verses around them. When I question him, he takes it in stride and attempts to answer me as best he can. He is completely open to my doubts and questioning, which is refreshing coming from a conservative Christian background (not to say that he isn’t a conservative Christian, he definitely is. He’s just treating things differently).
What might be most refreshing about our Bible discussions, is that it seems that he really doesn’t mind that I’m not interested in converting. He says he feels that I should have a fair chance to examine the information he is presenting to me, and do what I will with it. “At the end of all this, if you just have a greater appreciation for the Bible, that’s fine with me.”
At some point during our study, he gives me homework for the week, to read through the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. “I’ll have to find my Bible, it’s somewhere in storage.” He responds by sliding his Bible across the table. “You can have this one.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to take your personal Bible, I can really find one of my own. You don’t have to give me this.”
“It would be my honor.”
At the end of our session, I walk out with him, Bible in hand, talking like friends. He says that there’s a book I simply need to read about prophecy, but it’s not being printed anymore. “I will find it,” he insists and begins calling everyone in the neighborhood to see if they have a spare copy. “I bet you Mary has it, we’ll just pop over to her house real quick and see.”
Suddenly, I find myself in the living room of a woman I have never met before, swapping stories about our mutual experiences in East Africa. She went there on a missions trip with the Watchtower Society, I went there to study human ecology. It doesn’t really matter though. This woman, like every single person I have met in our local Kingdom Hall, is incredibly kind and welcoming. She doesn’t have the book, but that doesn’t really matter. I’ve made another friend, in a community I never expected to enjoy.
My biggest worry at this point is: what will happen when the Bible study is done? If I don’t want to join the Kingdom Hall (which I don’t anticipate wanting to do), will I say goodbye to George, and never interact with the community again? I have really loved these people and would love to keep up a relationship with the community. These are things I will need to consider.
More updates will follow as we continue to meet. Hopefully, my experiences can help others to feel more comfortable around members of other religions, or at least have an interesting weekly read. Follow my blog to get regular updates, and see what else I’m up to. Thanks for reading!