Luring Others to the Web
From a very young age, I followed those who “worked the street” door-to-door. In the beginning, I only observed others as they began a discussion with the homeowner, and I spoke only when spoken to. Of course, I had observed many demonstrations and practice sessions at the “school” of the Watchtower,” and I had participated in a number of them, but in reality I did not have the courage to initiate a conversation with a stranger all by myself. This changed, however, one Sunday when I was assigned to collaborate with the traveling “area bishop” of the “witnesses.” The bishop would come at different intervals to evaluate and bolster the activities of the local congregation. In his territory he had about 20 such congregations, which he visited religiously, since he received a nominal fee from the organization for his living expenses, and travel allowed him to be a house guest of the local “witnesses.” These bishops were replaced at different intervals, and they usually had their wife with them, who was also quite knowledgeable in the faith. I developed a special liking for this particular bishop because he was one of our distant relatives, and my mother constantly referred to him as a great role model, someone worth imitating. I admired him and I was also jealous of him in the good sense of the word. I thought of him as a true “spiritual brother.” The word “spiritual” I understood to mean a man who knew a lot and who possessed the ability to influence others, as most Protestants do. (This is totally unrelated to the Orthodox meaning of the term, which we see in the latter part of this book.)
As I said before, prior to this one Sunday when I began collaborating with the bishop, I had been reluctant to go door-to-door on my own. On this day, we studied the verse-of-the-day, and then we were instructed on what to present at each of the households we visited. I was not aware of it back then, but these were studied lessons of marketing and were presented to us every Thursday as the lessons of the “academy” and the “theocratic ministry.” Finally we set out to distribute “our products” in our “sectors.” The sector was the section of our territory we were assigned and for which we were responsible for “evangelizing.”
As we walked the streets, we discussed many things. We never missed an opportunity to speak to someone at the beginning of our journey because the walk could be included as “work” since this needed to be recorded in our monthly bulletin. When we drew near the large multi-housing complex of local workers assigned to me, we stood outside of the locked exterior door and pretended that we were ringing one of the bells. We repeated this several times, until someone coming out the building opened the door. We entered the elevator, and on our way up to the 10th and last floor, we quickly sketched the position of the 20 apartments of the high-rise on a pad. In every “box” we would keep track of our progress by marking whether or not the man was not home, if we had opened a discussion with him, if he accepted a pamphlet, book, or periodical, if he was friendly or polemic, his name or any information we could gather about him and so forth. Subsequently, we would transfer this information to a more permanent folder called the “archives of working the homes.” This folder would be used to remind us at our following attempt what we ran into, so we could have better results during “repeat visits.”
As we knocked on the doors of the upper floors, we realized that quite a few people were absent and the rest were totally indifferent. However, my companion had one more problem besides knocking on doors. He was instructed to convince me to also speak to the homeowners. I also wanted this, but I was shy. At one door, when the homeowner came out, after we agreed for me to start up the conversation, I just stood there looking at him without saying a word. Fortunately, my companion intervened and spoke. At the next door, he tried another technique. He would speak first, and then I would take over. And this is what we did. When a woman opened her door, he introduced himself and after a brief prologue he said, “My friend here has something to show you.” I proceeded to display the magazines at hand, and I did rather well. We tried the same technique with the other homeowners as were descending the building. In the high-rises we always commenced our work from the top, working ourselves down, so if some fanatical homeowner came out with abusive intentions, we would have the exit open in front of us. If we started from the bottom, we could have been trapped on the upper floors by those underneath who would already have seen us and decided to react against us. Besides, it was less tiring to descend than to ascend. By the time we made it to the lower floors, I had already become very-self confident, and I was engaging in conversation all by myself. I remember having great joy because I had given away many magazines and one book. My partner, however, seemed to be even more content because he was observing one more of the “evangelized” become self-empowered to knock on doors. From that time on, I went out more often to “work the Gospel,” taking along others less experienced for whom I took responsibility to teach how to make “presentations” at the doors by themselves, using the method with which I was taught. Soon enough I taught my friend George how to make presentations.
I had a hobby from a very young age. I liked chess, and we often organized small “tournaments” with my neighborhood friends. During the same time that I began knocking doors, I was also a member of an amateur chess team, and I would go and play every so often. That year my team advanced to the semi-finals and needed to hold ten matches every Sunday.
So I also began to officially participate in these organized matches. On half of the Sundays when the matches took place away from home, I went to “work the Gospel,” and on the other half, when we played at home, I went to the chess club. One Sunday my mother asked, “How can you abandon the “work of God” and spend your Sundays at the chess club?” I justified myself saying that I also needed some recreation, and I was already dedicating two Sundays a month to the “work of God.” Inside me, however, I felt a real struggle. I did not feel good knowing that so many people around me would perish in the battle of “Armageddon” and instead of warning them, I was sitting down playing chess. Consequently, I made a big decision: I walked away from the team. From then on, every Saturday and Sunday morning, I went to the “start-up” meetings and then to the “work of God.” With this maneuver, my mother succeeded in isolating me from bad company, which I might encounter at the chess club, and she was able to steer me towards beneficial spiritual activities.
Little by little, all of my other activities ceased, and I was dedicating all my free time to the “work.” The only hobby I held on to was the study of scientific journals, something that proved to be very helpful later on in my search for the true God. I remember some of the homeowners asking me, “If someone would prove to you that your religion is false, what would you do?”
“Of course I would abandon it!” I said with confidence and I continued, “Do you have any proof of this sort?” One man had no clue even about his own religion, so I challenged him, “If I prove that you have a false religion, would you abandon it?”
“I really don’t care about these things!” he replied. So we left him. Honestly, however, I was eager to consider all research without any fear, if someone contended that he could prove me wrong. Yet no such person was found, not then nor in the following years, and I interpreted this as proof that I had the true faith. At another time, a homeowner suggested, “Why should we listen to you and not have you listen to us?”
“Great! I’m ready to hear you! What do you have to say?” I asked. But these folks remained speechless for an entire minute while I waited for their answer. Obviously, they had nothing to say. All of this, along with the very bad approach of some hotheaded fanatics at a few homes, convinced me that there was no other religion like mine. I believed that I was persecuted “for the name of Jehovah” just because these persecutors did not have any serious arguments against me! Thus, they reacted forcefully and irrationally. If they had the truth, the simplest approach would be to try to convince me of it. In all the years of my membership with this organization, I knocked on thousands of doors, and I met all different types of people. However, I did not meet one person who could respond to my challenges and give me lessons of “truth” and “spirituality.” Those people would come much later…
 Translator’s Note: A very standard procedure for almost all direct sales, door-to-door organizations. A visiting regional director will make himself available once-a-month to instruct, motivate, and “pump up” the young and impressionable trainees with success stories and a “think-and-grow-rich” philosophy.
 Translator’s Note: The effort of evangelizing is a mandatory activity for “witnesses.”