They Preached from House to House
BACK in 1956, two full-time preachers of Jehovah’s Witnesses were assigned to work in the small town of Princeton, Kentucky, where no Witnesses lived. It made sense that, to cover the territory effectively, they should live right in Princeton. They had no car, and it was difficult to commute from the distant town where they were staying with some Witnesses. How would they arrange for accommodations?
Well, they went from house to house, as was their custom, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom. When they found persons who manifested some interest, they explained their need for a place to stay, so that they could thereby serve the community more effectively in their Bible educational work. Unfortunately, however, none had any extra room to accommodate them.
“It was getting toward evening,” Katie Williams, one of the full-time Kingdom proclaimers, explained recently at a circuit assembly, “and we came to the last house at the end of the street we were working.” After informing the lady that they were Bible students, and briefly telling her about the nature of their work, Katie and her companion explained their need for rooming accommodations.
At that, the lady called out to her husband: “Here are some Bible students, and they are looking for a place to stay.”
“Bible students?” he asked. “Let them come in. This is what we need.” The two girls were a little surprised by the warm reception. But then the lady said: “We need you to help us motivate our congregation.”
They soon learned that her husband, Frank Wattley, a man about 70 years of age, was a local Baptist minister. “They had welcomed us so warmly,” Katie explained, “that we accepted their invitation to stay.” Later, Frank informed the girls that what he really had in mind was converting them to his religion.
From the first morning, Katie and her partner began the day’s activities by discussing a Bible text, inviting the Wattleys to sit in and share. The older couple readily accepted the invitation. One morning a text under consideration was Ezekiel 18:4, which says: “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.”
“What? You mean the soul dies?” Frank asked. “Just wait a minute. I need to learn something more about this.” So a regular Bible study was begun with him and his wife. After becoming convinced regarding the Bible’s teaching about the soul, Frank said: “Listen, girls, I can never go back to teaching my congregation the immortality-of-the-soul doctrine.” So he and his wife left the Church and began preaching from house to house along with Katie and her partner. But that was not all.
A number of the members of Frank’s former congregation began to study the Bible with them. In time, meetings were arranged in the Wattley home and, as the group increased in size, a store was rented for the meetings. Many, including the Wattleys, soon were baptized. A Witness from another town would come over and conduct the meetings. Eventually a new congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses was formed.
When their place of meeting became too crowded, Frank said: “We want to donate a lot to the congregation.” In time, a Kingdom Hall was built on that location. Frank Wattley remained a faithful witness of Jehovah until his death, and Katie Williams is now in her 32nd year of pioneering, still regularly preaching from house to house.