Comments: The life prospects of people depend on their attitude toward Jehovah God and his Kingdom by Christ Jesus. The message of God’s Kingdom is thrilling, and it points to the only dependable hope for humankind. It is a message that transforms lives. We want everyone to hear it. We realize that only a minority will receive it appreciatively, but we know that people at least need to hear it if they are to make an informed choice. Yet not everyone is willing to listen, and we do not try to force them. But with discernment it is often possible to turn potential conversation stoppers into opportunities for further discussion. Here are examples of what some experienced Witnesses have used in their efforts to search out deserving ones. (Matt. 10:11) Our recommendation is not that you memorize any of these replies but that you get the idea in mind, put it in your own words and express it in a manner that conveys your genuine interest in the person to whom you are speaking. As you do so, you can have confidence that those whose hearts are rightly disposed will listen and respond appreciatively to what Jehovah is doing to draw them to his loving provisions for life.—John 6:44; Acts 16:14.
‘I’M NOT INTERESTED’
● ‘May I ask, Do you mean that you are not interested in the Bible, or is it religion in general that does not interest you? I ask that because we have met many who at one time were religious but no longer go to church because they see much hypocrisy in the churches (or, they feel that religion is just another money-making business; or, they do not approve of religion’s involvement in politics; etc.). The Bible does not approve of such practices either and it provides the only basis on which we can look to the future with confidence.’
● ‘If you mean that you are not interested in another religion, I can understand that. But more than likely you are interested in what kind of future we can expect in view of the threat of nuclear war (or, how we can safeguard our children against drug abuse; or, what can be done about crime so that we won’t have to be afraid to walk the streets; etc.). Can you see any prospect for a real solution?’
● ‘Is that because you already have a religion? . . . Tell me, Do you think we will ever see a time when everyone belongs to the same religion? . . . What seems to stand in the way? . . . For it to be meaningful, what sort of foundation would be needed?’
● ‘I can appreciate that. A few years ago I felt the same way. But I read something in the Bible that helped me to view matters in a different light. (Show the person what it was.)’
● ‘Would you be interested if I could show you from the Bible how you could see your dead loved ones again (or, what the real purpose of life is; or, how it can help us to keep our families united; etc.)?’
● ‘If you mean that you are not interested in buying something, let me put your mind at ease. I’m not engaged in a commercial work. But would you be interested in the opportunity to live on a paradise earth, free from sickness and crime, with neighbors who really love you?’
● ‘Is that your usual reply when Jehovah’s Witnesses call? . . . Have you ever really wondered why we keep calling or what we have to say? . . . Briefly, the reason I came to see you is that I know something that you should know too. Why not listen just this once?’
‘I’M NOT INTERESTED IN RELIGION’
● ‘I can understand how you feel. Frankly, the churches are not making this world a safer place to live, are they? . . . May I ask, Have you always felt the way you do now? . . . But do you believe in God?’
● ‘There are a lot of people who share your view. Religion has not really helped them. That is one reason why we are calling—because the churches have not told people the truth about God and his wonderful purpose for mankind.’
● ‘But I am sure that you are interested in your own future. Did you know that the Bible foretold the very conditions that exist in the world today? . . . And it shows what the outcome will be.’
● ‘Have you always felt that way? . . . How do you feel about the future?’
‘I’M NOT INTERESTED IN JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’
● ‘Many folks tell us that. Have you ever wondered why people like me volunteer to make these calls even though we know that the majority of householders may not welcome us? (Give the gist of Matthew 25:31-33, explaining that a separating of people of all nations is taking place and that their response to the Kingdom message is an important factor in this. Or state the gist of Ezekiel 9:1-11, explaining that, on the basis of people’s reaction to the Kingdom message, everyone is being “marked” either for preservation through the great tribulation or for destruction by God.)’
● ‘I can appreciate that, because I used to feel the same way. But, just to be fair, I decided to listen to one of them. And I found out that I hadn’t been told the truth about them. (Mention a common false accusation and then explain what we believe.)’
● ‘Not long ago I said the same thing to a Witness who called at my door. But before he left I raised a question that I was sure he could not answer. Would you like to know what it was? . . . (As an example: Where did Cain get his wife?)’ (For use by those who really had such an experience.)
● ‘If you are a religious person, I can appreciate that. Your own religion no doubt means much to you. But I think you’ll agree that we are both interested in (name an appropriate topic).’
● ‘Then no doubt you have your own religion. Do you mind my asking which religion it is? . . . We enjoy talking with people of your faith. How do you feel about (mention your topic for discussion)?’
● ‘Yes, I understand. But the reason we are calling is that we are a family that would like to see people live together in peace. We’re sick and tired of the news every night with reports of fighting and suffering. I suppose you are the same. . . . But what can bring the needed change? . . . We’ve found encouragement in the Bible’s promises.’
● ‘I appreciate your letting me know how you feel. Would you mind telling me what there is about us that you don’t like? Is it what we show you from the Bible, or is it our coming to visit you?’
‘I HAVE MY OWN RELIGION’
● ‘Would you mind telling me, Does your religion teach that the time will come when people who love what is right will live on earth forever? . . . That is an appealing thought, isn’t it? . . . It is right here in the Bible. (Ps. 37:29; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:4)’
● ‘I agree that in this matter each person must make his own decision. But did you know that God himself is looking for a certain kind of people to be his true worshipers? Notice here at John 4:23, 24. What would it mean to worship God “with truth”? . . . What has God given us to help us to know what is true and what is not? . . . (John 17:17) And notice how important it is to us personally. (John 17:3)’
● ‘Have you been a religious person all your life? . . . Do you think mankind will ever be united in one religion? . . . I’ve thought a lot about that because of what is recorded here at Revelation 5:13. . . . What is needed in order for us to fit into this picture?’
● ‘I was hoping to find someone like yourself who has an interest in spiritual things. So many today do not. May I ask how you feel about the Bible’s promise that God will clear out all wickedness and make this earth a place where only people who love righteousness will live? Does that appeal to you?’
● ‘Are you quite active in church affairs? . . . Is the church usually well filled for services these days? . . . Do you find that most members are really showing a sincere desire to apply God’s Word in everyday life? (Or, Do you find that there is unity of thinking among the members as to the solution to the problems that face the world?) We find that personal home Bible instruction helps.’
● ‘Evidently you are satisfied with your religion. But most people are not satisfied with world conditions. Perhaps that is true of you too; is it? . . . What is it all leading up to?’
● ‘Are you a person who enjoys reading the Bible? . . . Do you find time to read it on a regular basis?’
● ‘I appreciate your telling me that. I am sure that you will agree that, no matter what our religious background, we are all very much interested in world peace (or, ways to protect our children against bad influences; or, having a neighborhood in which people really love one another; or, enjoying good relationships with other people, and that can present a challenge when everyone feels under pressure).’
● ‘I’m glad to know that you are religiously inclined. Many people today do not take religion seriously. Some even think there is no God. But, according to what you have been taught, what kind of person do you think of God as being? . . . Notice that the Bible gives us his personal name. (Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83:18)’
● ‘When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach, he told them to go to every part of the earth, so they would meet many people whose religion was different from theirs. (Acts 1:8) But he knew that those hungering and thirsting for righteousness would listen. What is the particular message that he said would be delivered in our day? (Matt. 24:14) What does that Kingdom mean to us?’
‘WE ARE ALREADY CHRISTIANS HERE’
● ‘I’m glad to know that. Then you no doubt know that Jesus himself did a work like this, calling on people in their homes, and he commissioned his disciples to do it too. Are you familiar with the theme of the preaching they did? . . . That’s what we came to talk about today. (Luke 8:1; Dan. 2:44)’
● ‘Then I’m sure you will appreciate the seriousness of what Jesus said here in the Sermon on the Mount. He was being very straightforward but also loving when he said . . . (Matt. 7:21-23) The question that we need to ask ourselves, then, is, How well do I know the will of the heavenly Father? (John 17:3)’
● ‘Then I’ll be very brief. I called to share just one important thought with you. (State the gist of your topic for discussion in about two sentences.)’
● ‘All right. I’ll be glad to call at another time, when it is more convenient for you. But before I leave, I’d like to read just one scripture that really gives us something important to think about.’
● ‘I understand. As a mother (or, workingman; or, student) I have a full schedule too. So I’ll be brief. All of us are faced with a serious situation. The Bible shows that we are very near the time when God will destroy the present wicked system of things. But there will be survivors. The question is, What must you and I do to be among them? The Bible answers that question. (Zeph. 2:2, 3)’
● ‘You know, that’s exactly the reason why I’m calling. We’re all busy—so busy that really important things in life sometimes get neglected, isn’t that so? . . . I’ll be very brief, but I’m sure you will be interested in just this one text. (Luke 17:26, 27) None of us want to find ourselves in that situation, so we need to make time in our busy lives to consider what the Bible says. (Make literature offer.)’
● ‘Would it be more convenient if we called back in about half an hour, after we have visited some of your neighbors?’
● ‘Then I won’t keep you. Perhaps I can call another day. But before I leave, I would like to give you the opportunity to obtain this special offer. (Display the offer for the month.) This publication contains a study course that will acquaint you with the Bible’s own answers to such questions as (mention just one or two).’
● ‘I’m sorry that I caught you at an inconvenient moment. As you may know, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wanted to share with you an important thought from the Bible. But since you don’t have time to listen right now, I would like to give you this tract, which discusses (name the subject). It won’t take long to read, but you will find it very interesting.’
● ‘That’s not hard for me to understand. There just does not seem to be enough time to get everything done. But have you ever thought how different life might be if you could live forever? I know that may sound strange. But let me show you just one Bible text that explains how such a thing is possible. (John 17:3) So, what we need to do now is to take in this knowledge of God and his Son. That is why we leave this literature.’
‘WHY DO YOU PEOPLE CALL SO OFTEN?’
● ‘Because we believe that we are living in the last days referred to in the Bible. We feel that it is important for all of us to think about what the outcome of present conditions will be. (Mention one or two recent events or current situations.) The question is, What do we need to do if we are to survive the end of this system of things?’
● ‘Because we love God and our neighbors. That is what we all should do, isn’t it?’
‘I AM ALREADY WELL ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR WORK’
● ‘I am very glad to hear that. Do you have a close relative or a friend that is a Witness? . . . May I ask: Do you believe what we teach from the Bible, namely, that we are living in “the last days,” that soon God is going to destroy the wicked, and that this earth will become a paradise in which people can live forever in perfect health among neighbors who really love one another?’
‘WE HAVE NO MONEY’
● ‘We are not soliciting funds. But we are offering a free home Bible study course. One of the subjects that it covers is (use a chapter title from a current publication). May I take a few minutes to show you how it works? It won’t cost you a penny.’
● ‘We’re interested in people, not their money. (Continue with discussion. Show them one of the publications and explain how it can benefit them. If they manifest genuine interest and promise to read it, leave it with them. If appropriate, explain how our worldwide preaching activity is financed.)’
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, ‘I’M A BUDDHIST’
● Do not conclude that the person’s beliefs are the same as those of all other Buddhists. Buddhist teachings are vague and the interpretation varies from one person to another. Japanese Buddhism is quite different from the Buddhism of Southeast Asia. Individuals, too, differ as to their viewpoint. In general, however, the following points may be helpful: (1) Buddhism does not recognize an external God, a personal Creator. But many Buddhists worship images and relics of Buddha. (2) Siddhartha Gautama, who was given the title Buddha, came to be viewed as the religious ideal of his followers, to be imitated by them. He encouraged gaining enlightenment by studying mankind from a human standpoint, also severing the roots of suffering by controlling the mind so as to eliminate all earthly desire. He taught that in this way one might attain to Nirvana, free from the rebirths of transmigration. (3) Buddhists worship their ancestors, because they view these as the source of their life.
Suggestions for conversation: (1) When speaking with Buddhists, emphasize that you are no part of Christendom. (2) Buddhists have respect for “holy books,” and generally they respect the Bible for that reason. Instead of dwelling on Buddhist philosophy, present the positive message of the Bible. Let them know that the Bible is not mere human philosophy but the authoritative Word of mankind’s Creator, Jehovah God. Ask politely if you may show them an interesting point in this holy book, the Bible. (3) Many Buddhists are keenly interested in peace and family life and want to live moral lives. Discussion on any of these matters is often welcomed. (4) Show that the Bible points to a righteous heavenly government over the earth as the real solution to the problems facing mankind. It explains the future of the earth and the wonderful prospect of living forever in an earthly paradise. (5) You might point out that the Bible explains the origin of life, the meaning of life, the condition of the dead and the resurrection hope, the reason for the existence of wickedness. A kindly presentation of the clear truths of God’s Word will find appreciative response in the hearts of sheeplike ones.
The booklet In Search of a Father was prepared especially for the benefit of sincere Buddhists.
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, ‘I’M A HINDU’
● You ought to be aware that Hindu philosophy is very complex and does not conform to normal logic. You may find it helpful to have the following points in mind: (1) Hinduism teaches that the god Brahman includes three forms—Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer. But Hindus do not think of a personal god with an individual existence. (2) Hindus believe that all natural objects possess a soul that never dies, that the soul experiences a virtually endless cycle of reincarnation, that the forms in which it is reborn are determined by deeds (Karma), that release from this “endless wheel” is possible only by extinguishing all physical desire, and that if this is achieved, the soul will merge with the universal spirit. (3) In general, Hindus respect other religions. Hindus believe that, in spite of the fact that they teach conflicting doctrines, all religions lead to the same truth.
Instead of trying to deal with the complexities of Hindu philosophy, present the satisfying truths found in the Holy Bible. Jehovah’s loving provisions for life are open to people of all kinds, and the clear truths in his Word will reach the hearts of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Only the Bible provides a truly well-founded hope for the future; only the Bible gives really satisfying answers to the important questions that face all mankind. Give them opportunity to hear those answers. It is of interest that the Hindu Rig-Veda hymn, 10. 121, is entitled “To the Unknown God.” In some cases you may find it appropriate to refer to this in a manner similar to the apostle Paul’s reference to the altar “To an Unknown God” in Athens. (Acts 17:22, 23) Interestingly, the name of the Hindu god Vishnu, without the digamma, is Ish-nuh, which in Chaldee means “the man Noah.” Point out what the Bible says about the significance of the global Flood in the days of Noah. Those who are distressed by the prospect of endless reincarnations may be helped by the material on pages 320, 321, under the main heading “Reincarnation.”
The booklets The Path of Divine Truth Leading to Liberation and From Kurukshetra to Armageddon—And Your Survival contain information that will be very beneficial to sincere Hindus.
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, ‘I’M A JEW’
● First, ascertain how the person views himself as a Jew. Few are religious. For many, being Jewish is simply an ethnic designation.
Here are a few points that are beneficial to have in mind: (1) Religious Jews view the pronouncing of God’s name as forbidden. (2) Many Jews think of “the Bible” as a Christian book, but if you refer to “the Hebrew Scriptures,” “the Scriptures,” or “the Torah,” that problem does not arise. (3) Tradition is a central part of their faith and is viewed by many religious Jews as equal in authority with the Scriptures. (4) They may associate Jesus Christ with the brutal persecution experienced by the Jews at the hands of Christendom in the name of Jesus. (5) They frequently believe that God requires the Jews to keep the Sabbath, which belief includes refraining from handling money on that day.
To establish a common ground, you might say: (1) ‘You would no doubt agree that, regardless of our background, we all face many of the same difficulties in today’s world. Do you believe that there will really be a lasting solution to the great problems that face this generation? (Ps. 37:10, 11, 29; Ps. 146:3-5; Dan. 2:44)’ (2) ‘We are no part of Christendom and do not believe in a Trinity but worship the God of Abraham. We are especially interested in the matter of religious truth. Do you mind if I ask how you determine what is true, especially in view of the fact that there are great differences of beliefs among Jewish people? . . . (Deut. 4:2; Isa. 29:13, 14; Ps. 119:160)’ (3) ‘We are keenly interested in God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed people of all nations will be blessed. (Gen. 22:18)’
If the person expresses lack of faith in God, ask whether he has always felt that way. Then perhaps discuss why God has permitted wickedness and suffering. Memories of the Nazi holocaust have caused many Jews to be concerned about this.
If you discuss the importance of using God’s name, find out first how the other person feels about it. Point out that Exodus 20:7 forbids taking up God’s name in a worthless way, but it does not forbid using it with respect. Then reason on texts such as Exodus 3:15 (or Psalm 135:13); 1 Kings 8:41-43; Isaiah 12:4; Jeremiah 10:25; Malachi 3:16.
When you discuss the Messiah: (1) Talk first about the future blessings under his rule, instead of his identity. (2) Then reason on texts that point to a personal Messiah. (Gen. 22:17, 18; Zech. 9:9, 10; Dan. 7:13, 14) (3) You may need to discuss the two comings of the Messiah. (Contrast Daniel 7:13, 14 with Daniel 9:24-26.) (4) When referring to Jesus, do so in a context that emphasizes the progressive nature of God’s purpose. Mention that when Jesus taught, the time was near when God allowed the second temple to be destroyed, never to be rebuilt. But Jesus emphasized the fulfillment of the Law and of the Prophets and the glorious future to which these would direct persons with faith.