[From ws5/17 p. 3 – July 3-9]
“Jehovah is protecting the foreign residents.” – Ps 146:9
I like the 146th Psalm. It is the one that warns us not to trust in nobles or men in general because they cannot save us. (Ps 146:3) Showing that salvation lies with Jehovah, it states:
“ Jehovah is protecting the foreign residents; He sustains the fatherless child and the widow, But he thwarts the plans of the wicked.” (Ps 146:9)
Of course, if we are to imitate God—which should be the wish of every true Christian—we will want to do what we can to protect foreigners and support orphans and widows. (James 1:27) This week’s study article is all about the former, “helping the foreign resident”. However, there are limits imposed on this charitable work. As the title suggests, the help is to be extended to those foreigners who are “one of us”; or as paragraph 2 puts it: How can we help these brothers and sisters to “serve Jehovah with rejoicing” despite their trials?
This is not to say that Witnesses are turning their backs on foreigners who are not of their ranks. No, the next sentence says: And how can we effectively share the good news with refugees who do not yet know Jehovah? – par. 2
So if you’re a non-Witness refugee, the mercy Jehovah’s Witnesses are directed to extend to you is pretty much limited to preaching the good news. Beyond that, Witnesses depend on the State or charitable institutions and other religions to render material, medical and emotional support. JWs have to preach and that work is all-consuming.
As is usually the case, there is some good counsel in this article. For example:
The transition can be overwhelming. Imagine trying to learn a new language and to adapt to new laws and expectations regarding manners, punctuality, taxes, bill paying, school attendance, and child discipline—all at once! Can you patiently and respectfully help brothers and sisters who face such challenges?—Phil. 2:3, 4. – par. 9
However, refugees are directed to put the Organization and its interests first.
Further, authorities have at times made it difficult for our brothers who are refugees to contact the congregation. Some agencies have threatened to cut off assistance or deny our brothers asylum if they refuse to accept employment that requires them to miss meetings. Frightened and vulnerable, a few brothers have given in to such pressures. Therefore, it is urgent to meet our refugee brothers as soon as possible after their arrival. They need to see that we care about them. Our compassion and practical help can strengthen their faith.—Prov. 12:25;17:17. – par. 10
People in desperate financial straights who depend on the state to help them are still expected to attend every meeting. They are expected to turn down gainful employment rather than miss some meetings. There used to be three meetings a week and that was supposedly by Jehovah’s direction, so missing one was to be disobedient to God. Then Jehovah—because the Governing Body claims this direction comes from God—dropped one of the meetings because (according to the letter at the time) of rising gas prices and travel distances in some countries. So a vital meeting wasn’t so vital after all. Did Jehovah realize his mistake? Or was the change from men? Does he really want a man to not provide for his own and become a person ‘worse than one without faith’ just so that he can attend all congregation meetings? (1Ti 5:8) This requirement gets even more stringent when we realized that it is not just any meeting that he must attend regularly, but it must be those of his own congregation. Getting to meetings in other congregations because their meeting times do not conflict with work is simply not acceptable if we are to go by the message from a JW.org video from just last year titled, Jehovah Will Care for Our Needs.
As that video title suggests, the onus is on God to provide, not men. For instance, if a brother refuses government-offered work so as not to miss meetings and as a consequence finds that the government agency no longer supplies him with job offers, the belief is that Jehovah will provide. Therefore, there is no expectation that the local congregation will step up and provide for the necessities of life for the refugee family out of their own pocket.
Preaching to Non-Witness Refugees
As we observed earlier, our acts of mercy toward non-Witness foreigners is limited to preaching the good news. Paragraph 19 actually cites the “neighborly Samaritan” to support this conclusion:
Like the neighborly Samaritan in Jesus’ illustration, we want to help suffering people, including those who are not Witnesses. (Luke 10:33-37) The best way to do so is by sharing the good news with them. “It is important to make clear right away that we are Jehovah’s Witnesses and that our primary mission is to help them spiritually, not materially,” notes an elder who has helped many refugees. “Otherwise, some may associate with us only for personal advantage.” – par. 19
As you will recall, the Good Samaritan didn’t try to preach to the man who lay battered and near death after being attacked by thieves. What he did was tend to his wounds, and then carry him to an inn so he could be cared for, fed and nursed back to health. He also gave the inn keeper funds to handle all expenses and promised to return to make sure all was well, assuring the inn keeper that he would be responsible for any additional expenses that might arise.
When someone is suffering due to having experienced bitter persecution, or hunger, or privation, one is hardly in the receptive frame of mind needed to consider the good news. Yet, the Governing Body seems to feel that the best way we can imitate the ‘good Samaritan’ is to ignore the material needs of the destitute and instead preach to them. The magazine goes so far as to warn us that desperate people might actually ask for financial assistance, and we have to be prepared so that should that happen we can tell them that material help is not an option.
If the Samaritan had followed the counsel from paragraph 19, he would have roused the wounded man, and told him about the good news of the Christ, but cautioned him that his “primary mission was to help him spiritually, not materially”, so that the injured man wouldn’t get the idea of associating with the Samaritan “for personal advantage.”
This brings us to the stunning public admission made in paragraph 20?
“The brothers there treated them like close relatives, providing food, clothes, shelter, and transportation. Who else would welcome strangers into their home just because they worship the same God? Only Jehovah’s Witnesses!” – par. 20
Is this true? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses the only ones who “will welcome strangers into their home just because they worship the same God”? Actually, if we were to exchange “just because” with “only if” we might find the statement to be a closer match with reality. To demonstrate: “Who else would welcome strangers into their home only if they worship the same God? Only Jehovah’s Witnesses!”
Is there evidence that this is an accurate assessment of JW policy and practice?
I will share an experience that happened to a family member. He and a fellow Witness were stranded in another country with car problems. They had limited funds so they called the local Kingdom hall and talked with the brother who lived in the hall apartment, asking for help. He showed up with two other brothers, but before they were able to lend any assistance, they wanted proof of membership by asking to see their Medical Directive (No Blood) cards. It would seem that had they been non-Witnesses, there would have been no act of mercy forthcoming.
Granted, this is anecdotal evidence, but is it indicative of a widespread mindset? Consider this report off the JW.org Newroom page: “Witnesses Respond After Inferno Consumes Apartment Building in London“:
Four Witnesses were evacuated from the apartment building, two of which were residents of Grenfell Tower. Fortunately, none of them were injured, although the Witnesses’ apartments were among those completely destroyed in the blaze. Witnesses that live near the now fire-gutted apartment building provided food, clothing, and monetary aid to their fellow members and their families that were affected. The Witnesses are also offering spiritual comfort to the grieving members of the North Kensington community.
Notice that the only effort made to help those outside of the JW faith was to preach to them. A family that has not food, clothing, or a place to sleep has overwhelming and immediate concerns that are hardly conducive to thoughtful contemplation of a spiritual nature. We have only to think about Jesus to see this. When he encountered suffering, his first instinct was not to preach, but to use the power invested in him to relieve that suffering. We do not have that power, but what power we do have, we should use as he did to first address the physical needs of others so that the mind is more receptive to the more important spiritual needs.
“YOU heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 However, I say to YOU: Continue to love YOUR enemies and to pray for those persecuting YOU; 45 that YOU may prove yourselves sons of YOUR Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. 46 For if YOU love those loving YOU, what reward do YOU have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? 47 And if YOU greet YOUR brothers only, what extraordinary thing are YOU doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? 48 YOU must accordingly be perfect, as YOUR heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:43-48)
While Witnesses, as an organization, seem to have a policy of only ‘loving those who love them in return’, non-Witnesses seem to be going well beyond that, acting in line with Jesus’ words. Consider this Guardian report on the community response to the Grenfell fire.
Volunteers from across London and as far away as Birmingham poured into north Kensington on Saturday to help the bereaved and support communities displaced by the Grenfell Tower fire.
Carrying flowers and supplies, they joined residents and local groups organising aid operation amid complaints that the local authority is failing to coordinate operations.
“We are no longer taking donations of goods,” said Ian Pilcher from nearby Ladbroke Grove, who is working with the local Methodist church. “The volume of items has been sensational. Everything has been sorted and our understanding is that there might be a central warehouse set up. The community effort has been spellbinding. We are used to coming together once a year for the [Notting Hill] carnival. No one wanted to do so under these circumstances.”
Jesus told us to love our enemies not just those who love us, so that our love could be “perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Jehovah loves those we would consider as unlovable. He offers redemption to even the worst of humanity. Jesus’ word will safeguard his true disciples from entering into a cult-like mentality of Us vs. Them—of viewing others as unworthy of our mercy because they are not “one of us”.
Hello, and best wishes to everyone. It seems that as time goes on that the true nature of these men are clearly evident, that they are sociopaths which has become evident in just the last few years by their gross hypocrisy and it continues marching on even though so many of us pray for true justice. We will wait on Jehovah. I hope this is not to strong, its just that so many have been truly damaged over many years. We’re looking forward to the time when Jehovah makes all things right
Welcome, Lone Survivor. I looked up the definition of “sociopath”; it means: “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.” I can see where your coming from. For example, the uncaring attitude toward our most vulnerable “little ones” that was made manifest during the Australia Royal Commission is clearly antisocial–to say the least. However, I do think they have a conscience, but that it has become so distorted as to be unusable. I think that 1 Timothy 4:2 apply applies: “However, the inspired word clearly says that in later… Read more »
Thanks for your response, my friends and I live in central USA and we all decided on our own to leave about the same time and have been a true friend in a time of need for one another. We all help each other stay grounded. We like so many others went through all the emotions and like I said we kept each other from straying off course. We meet and study often and it has been a great blessing, we are working hard to understand and follow Jehovah’s direction and maintain a humble attitude,and we want you to know… Read more »
Lone Survivor, its good news to hear that you left the org, but haven’t left Jehovah and his invaluable word. And how nice that you are not alone, that you have a small group to meet together and support one another. So very encouraging to hear. You will be in my prayers. Take courage, your group is not alone. There are other groups like yours!
Hi Lone Survivor,
When you say we, how many are there? What do you study and how?
Welcome to the forum.
Hello to all, our group feels that it is important to keep the groups small of course there is no hard and fast rule about it. We have given a lot of thought and prayer to it and have come to realize how important it is to safeguard an individuals faith. To answer your question there is 5 of us and we study the Bible. Back to what I was saying, in our area there has been some who have learned about the Organization and left Jehovah in some way or another blaming Him or thinking that He doesn’t care… Read more »
Excellent counsel for all of us. Thank you, Lone Survivor. But you are not alone. 🙂
Hi I am so glad to hear that you are doing something productive not just JW bashing. It’s hard to resist the temptation when so much is wrong. My wife and I feel so alone since she wrote the branch about beards and I resigned as an elder over it. We are still attending meetings but find it mostly awkward. Keep up the faith!
Hi Caasi notwen,
What did the branch say about beards? Which branch are you with?
Hi Eleasar. I’m in the US branch. I wrote Meleti about our experience with the branch on beards and if he sees this am giving him permission to share it with you. I’ll give one example of what they tried to use to justify their backpedaling stand since the study article came out last year that said even some appointed brothers have beards. They tried to use Joseph who shaved before appearing before Pharoah as an example of not stumbling others. The account is in Genesis 41.
Hi lone survivor I really appreciate your fine attitude and actions that you have mentioned in your comment,it is a huge relief to me personally to hear of someone kicking a few spiritual goals. When I stop and think what has transpired in my time in the org,which began when I was 5 and I have not long turned 55,there is great potential despite what’s happened. Using the publisher figures,since I was baptised in 1980,on average around 50,000 have been disfellowshipped every year,that adds up to 1,850,000 that have been removed for what ever reason,and Ime sure some of that… Read more »
Lone Survivor, thank you for sharing your touching story. Honestly, it made my eyes wet after reading it. I thought the holy spirit has guided you and our fellow brothers who have left the organization yet have stood strong in the the worship of our Heavenly Father, Jehovah.
It amazes me how you were able to follow God’s direction even without the control and guidance of the WT.
Excellent article Meleti. So true when you say “Then Jehovah—because the Governing Body claims this direction comes from God—dropped one of the meetings because (according to the letter at the time) of rising gas prices and travel distances in some countries.” Just to show how wrong the meeting change was, just think, they dropped the meeting that was 1) easier to get to because it was in the neigbourhood, 2) the meeting that most closely resembled the meetings of the first century Christians(small groups in private homes) and 3) the meeting that allowed for more personal expression and the forming… Read more »
Hi Yehorakam I think you have hit the nail on the head,the abandoning of the book study was the last true semblance of the 1st century arrangement,the org is following the rest of Christendom by compelling people to go to a place to worship,all of this “centralisation”actually very much mirrors the policy’s of left wing government,I don’t want to make a political statement,but the similaritys of the compartmentalisation of people is strangely similar to WT practise,and also to keep any dissedents under surveillance. I also think it’s nesessary for those of us who are going to make up the heavenly… Read more »
Insightful, Wild Olive.
Thanx Meleti Just a bit further on the comparison. In reality the JW religion is a corporate religious government. This is the way all the “American” religions have gone, ie the Mormons,Scientology,The Unification Church and JWs to name some of the common ones,under the guise of non profit organisations, and also to get tax exemptions, they are all a 501 c3 corporation.( this is a subject on its own, and I won’t go into the detail). What is really strange is that none of them need to claim tax exemption,because the constitution gives them a pass,but because they all make… Read more »
I think you’ve nailed it, Yehorakam.
Yeah I think that’s exactly right
I agree with your thoughts. It struck me that if they had dropped the midweek CLAM meeting and kept the home groups, the brothers in Russia would not be in as bad a state.
Control and a shallow controlled programme seems more important.
Thanks Meleti for highlighting that the Organisation is set up to preach and teach people. That’s its focus. Charity amongst each other is evident. And helping others is primarily on a spiritual level. That’s true. Just reading the comments and observations. It’s possible for A congregation to foster a spirit of being charitable to include non-witnesss and open the field wider into their own community. This would be done on a local level with the majority of Elders encouraging this behaviour through talks and action. My experience in one congregation I was associated with was just like that. When I… Read more »
Your comments on the trials of the working class Witness fall right in line with the new video drama ‘Remember The Wife Of Lot’ we just watched at this year’s convention. As is the case with most counsel coming from Bethel work and Christian life are presented as binary concepts in the drama. If you do one well, the other instantly suffers. Ignoring that two things can be true at the same time – IE that we can hold down a great job and still be a Christian – doesn’t really fit with the philosophy of the culture. In the… Read more »
I read the article and have come to exactly the same conclusions as you meleti , the fact is the witnesses are not really taught to be charitable , the main focus for the most part is all about preaching . You may get the odd brother and sister who are , but in my experience this was not the norm .
I remember years ago going on a trip with a large group of witnesses , that the presiding overseer became incensed and irritated because me and my family ended up with a (free) meal given to us by hotel staff , so much so that he made a public display of it , insisting that I had to put the money for the meals , when we got back as a contribution to the worldwide work , for goodness sake it was a private hotel , needless to say we never went to anything like that again ,my wife who… Read more »
Thanks for sharing your experience. My family and I went to the “Don’t Give Up” Regional Convention. As Regular Pioneers my wife and I work only part time, making just enough to cover our needs.As a result we didn’t make our Hotel reservations until last month. We called the Hotels on “the list” that was in our price range and was informed that all rooms set aside for Convention Delegates were taken. My wife then checked booking.com for a room and found one that was actually on “the list” AND within walking distance of the Convention Center, as a bonus… Read more »
I have heard similar experiences. It seems that the Org gets a kickback because often one can book rooms at lower prices on one’s own.
Normally when this happens it would be claimed that Jehovah provided. Here the Organisation’s prices were higher and Jehovah “must” have provided for your needs where the Organisation could not! So Jehovah gave his Organisation one deal but you got a better deal. Shows it is always better to cut out the middle man.
Good points brought out, Meleti, I can say that I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes. A single-mom with three teen-age sons was in dire need of a roof for their family home, it leaked and the trusses were getting ruined and moldy in the attic. Some brothers from her congregation and mine (we shared the KH) pitched in for materials and helped with putting on a new roof. As a ministerial servant in those days I was appalled to overhear a conversation among her congregation elders that they were going to ask the sister to donate her meager… Read more »
I can share a personal experience with you from 2011. We had a couple with 2 young girls aged 5 and 3 years old. They were in London as the father was on a student visa. I was involved in studying with them, within 6 months the parents were baptised. The father had to return to India and came back with 3 days left on the visa. He was arrested at Gatwick and they wanted to deport him. The wife got a stay of execution and the procedure to fight the authorities was put in motion. This would take 5… Read more »
I remember showing our body of elders 1 John 3 v 17 and 18 , in order to persuade them to carry on an arrangement to help a sister who was living on her own and had a brain tumor , it made no difference , I remember thinking what type of Christianity is this ?
So the pivot factor was whether they had to cough up the funds themselves. This brings to mind Matthew 23:4
Meleti, That is right. I was going to approach that one elder and ask me why suddenly it was an acceptable use of “dedicated funds”. The other elders dissuaded me. Another interesting factor is that most of the elders were pretty sound and agreed but they wanted to keep the peace and not get brow beaten! The misunderstanding of humility and meekness means that they were willing to give ground even though they disagreed. It shows the lack of generosity of spirit, mercy and compassion. In my opinion, there was an element of racism as this brother felt that they… Read more »
That is often the case Meleti. I can remember 2 occasions in 2 different congs where I had to fight with the “presiding overseer” as to how to handle the needs of a sister with breast cancer and another brother with a failing liver. In both congs, the PO was trying to insist we shouldn’t use contributions to help those involved. Then I proposed that we set the lead as elders by taking turns taking out of our own pockets to help. Neither PO liked that idea either. In the case of the sister dying of breast cancer, the PO… Read more »
Yes brother, he is having his reward in full. Sad situation. Some Congregations are sicker than others.
The fear from the WT is that you as an individual should involve you in another person besides preaching. Only the Society should be honored so don’t do anything as a christian. Why on earth should we treat “refugees” different from other people when for instance that for all people received in Italy only 2.6 percent is in reality refugees. It looks good but I think it smells like something is rotten. Only to say that what the WT is dealing with is politics, suddenly not Christianity. You pinpoint it nicely with the weight on You instead of the collective.… Read more »