What Others Have Said About House-to-House Witnessing
When it came time for Jehovah to execute judgment on the apostate city of Jerusalem, he gave his prophet Ezekiel a vision, in which he saw a man clothed with linen and having a writer’s inkhorn. To this man Jehovah gave the commission: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” The ones who received a mark of approval were spared at the time of destruction. All others perished.—Ezek. 9:2-11.
A similar marking work is being done today, identifying those who are distressed over the hypocrisy, corruption and bloodguilt that they find in Christendom, and who are willing to put on the true Christian personality—with everlasting life in view. Throughout the realm of Christendom, this marking work is being accomplished by Jehovah’s Witnesses under the leadership of the class pictured by the “man . . . clothed with linen” and largely by a vigorous campaign of preaching “this good news of the kingdom” from house to house. (Matt. 24:14; Acts 20:20) How has this witnessing campaign been received by the people?
As in Ezekiel’s day, some have been willing to receive the mark of true Christianity. Others have bitterly opposed the message. Still others have spoken words of commendation for the Witnesses and their preaching methods. For example, Catholic priest John A. O’Brien told some 200 priests at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York:
“In recruiting converts and reclaiming lapsed members, nothing beats personal contact. This is achieved by the tactful, courteous, well trained doorbell apostle. The secret of the phenomenal success of St. Paul was his tireless use of the house-to-house method of recruiting converts. It is ironic that the apostolic method is now used by non-Catholic sects, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose numerous converts put us Catholics to shame.”—“The Monitor,” July 7, 1961.
A similar note was sounded by Catholic priest J. S. Kennedy, who said, in writing about Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“Their door-to-door canvass in pursuit of converts is intensive and never stops. . . . their zeal and self-sacrifice should give us pause.”—“Our Sunday Visitor,” June 3, 1962.
And more recently, a conference of religious leaders in Spain noted the following:
“Perhaps [the churches] are excessively neglectful about that which precisely constitutes the greatest preoccupation of the Witnesses—the home visit, that comes within the apostolic methodology of the primitive church. While the churches, on not a few occasions, limit themselves to constructing their temples, ringing their bells to attract the people and to preaching inside their places of meeting, [the Witnesses] follow the apostolic method of going from house to house and of taking advantage of every occasion to witness.”—“El Catholicismo,” Bogotá, Colombia, September 14, 1975.
While orthodox religions wait for people to come to them, Jehovah’s Witnesses follow the example of Jesus and the apostles in going to the people. Even under ban or persecutions, they keep on proclaiming the “good news,” as did Christ’s early followers, of whom it was said:
“Great persecution arose against the congregation that was in Jerusalem; all except the apostles were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. However, those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word.”—Acts 8:1, 4.
There was no stopping the preaching of God’s kingdom back there.
ON A WORLDWIDE SCALE
In modern times, an extensive witness was given in Christendom up until World War II. This witness was expanded greatly as missionaries were trained and sent forth from the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, South Lansing, New York, from 1943 onward. In country after country, they carried out intensive house-to-house preaching, following through with many home Bible studies. And the result? As early as the year 1950, a professor of religious history at Northwestern University, U.S.A., wrote the following:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. . . . It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses. . . . This movement will very likely go on from strength to strength.”—C. S. Braden, in his book “These Also Believe.”
Others have also made a study of the missionary activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of these scholars, Bryan Wilson, a professor at All Souls College, Oxford University, England, visited Japan, where he studied what he terms “the recent rapid growth” in the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The results of his studies were published in the “Social Compass” of January 1977, and interesting comments such as the following were made:
“Witnesses offer a wide range of practical advice, couched in language of authority, on marital relations, moral issues, the rearing of children, and other practical matters. . . . [For parents] the Witnesses have a great deal to offer by way of firm advice substantiated in Holy Writ and integrated into a coherent philosophy of life dominated by single-minded purpose . . . Furthermore, the advice of the Witnesses has the added cachet of being offered uniformly and without concessions to local cultural preoccupations. It is offered without being patronizing and without privilege or prejudice, and it has the strength of being uncompromising. . . . no one adopts Watch Tower religion explicitly for its beneficial consequences: its teachings with respect to the upbringing of children cannot be regarded as an analogue of rice in the recruitment of natives by the old Catholic and Protestant missions.”
Today, in Japan, more than 48,000 native Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching the grand hope of God’s kingdom from house to house. In a survey of 377 of these Witnesses in Tokyo, Professor Wilson found that 58.3 percent became interested through house-to-house calls, whereas 34.3 percent were first witnessed to by a relative, friend or acquaintance. Thus, it can be appreciated how effective house-to-house calls have proved to be in this missionary field. The professor also asked those interviewed what it was that first attracted them to Jehovah’s Witnesses and typical replies were the following:
“The kindness of the Witnesses.” “The lack of any smell of religious formalism and the absence of show.” “The warmth of the Witnesses attracted me, their neatness, their desire to help and the good relationships among them.” “The attitude and personality of the publisher who first talked to me.” “The quality in the congregation.” “I was surprised to find such meek people.” “I was impressed by the polite speech of the Witnesses. When I attended the 1973 Assembly, I was impressed by the unity of the organization: I thought I was observing well-trained soldiers.” “The people were loving and kind; and they enjoyed the meeting, and they sincerely tried to apply Bible principles in their lives.” “The love and warmth among Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Returning now to the Western world, let us examine an article appearing in “U.S. Catholic” of January 1979. It was written by William J. Whalen and is entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses: Gonna Take a Fundamental Journey.” The subheading asks the question: “Does door-to-door religion work?” Then the article proceeds to an impartial discussion of the history and activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In conclusion, the writer says:
“A hundred years ago a young man [Charles Taze Russell] left his clothing store and started to teach his interpretation of the Bible. Since then hundreds of people have died rather than deny what they understand to be the will of Jehovah. Others have risked their lives and those of their children rather than accept a blood transfusion. Many have spent long years in prisons and concentration camps.
“In 1962 I concluded a study of Jehovah’s Witnesses with this observation: ‘That the New World Society will suddenly run out of steam is doubtful. Whether Armageddon lies around the corner or not, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people live each day in the belief that it does.’ Armageddon is still just around the corner, and there are well over twice as many Witnesses today as then. All signs indicate the Watchtower Society will probably double again in size during the next decade.”