It almost never happens to me. I hear about their visits from friends and family, and just recently they did visit my house – but I wasn’t home. That all changed this past week as the doorbell rang and my wife excitedly yet quietly told me to get the door. It was a pair of Jehovah Witnesses, and my wife knew it.
The conversation began well enough. They were kind with their words and understanding of my children playing peek-a-boo from behind my legs. But then they asked me, ‘have you read any of our materials?’ I had, but I read them with a kind of intellectual ‘what are these people up to?’ approach. I shared with the Witnesses at the door that some of their teachings did not quite make sense to me, and that I had serious objections.
Well, conversation turned into debate and debate turned into argument. Finally, one of them said, ‘obviously we can’t respond to all of your points off of the top of our heads so we will find out and come back with the information.’ I liked that answer; it was honest. ‘But’ this one continued ‘what is the one thing you really want to know about?’ I responded, ‘I want to know where your church was in the fifth century.’ She promised me that she would bring back an answer with proof of what Witnesses to Jehovah were doing in the fifth century. I doubt she will find much.
But then the other made a comment that stuck with me. He said, ‘don’t you know the line, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations?’ Of course I did, and I proudly recited the rest of the line to him ‘…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…’ He then followed with, ‘then how come you aren’t doing it? Making disciples I mean. The true church is the one that follows the teachings of Jehovah and his son, Jesus. Every Jehovah Witness goes door to door making disciples, but Catholics never do.’
That man was right. They take discipling seriously. They go door to do. They remember people’s names and questions, and they follow up. They don’t care if people hate them for the name of Jehovah or ridicule them in the marketplace. They make disciples anyway. We Catholics baptize…a lot. But how many of the millions of people who have been baptized have become disciples, people who actually sit at the feet of Jesus to learn from Him? Not merely as many.
Jehovah Witnesses have many things mistaken and some of them quite serious, but one thing they do have right: the Church needs disciples, and it is up to us to go door to door if necessary to bring them in.