A grey and unseasonably cool early September day at the zoo of all places:
We stopped to pray together for Holy Spirit to lead us to someone, and proceeded to walk right up to Ricky. He was strolling down the path towards us by himself; from all appearances he had just decided to enjoy this mellow day amidst some rare Chicago nature. Upon approaching him, we saw his shirt said, “feed God’s children” and I felt Sarah light up a bit along with me. After introducing ourselves and explaining our project, Sarah asked him, “what do you believe about God?” And he thoughtfully started out. As shabby camels sauntered around in the background and our mouths stayed shut while our eyes and ears stayed attentive, perhaps he realized we weren’t trying to sell him anything - just genuinely wanted to hear what he had to say. His gestures and speech grew more and more passionate, and we couldn’t keep from smiling and nodding (despite initially trying to uphold an unbiased persona). This man knew truth, and he was preaching to us.
“What is your idea of God?”
“The creator of all life. According to the Word, He is the source of life – of every living thing. It all started with Him; He created it. I’ve always believed that. As I got older I learned a lot more about it – through His Word. I grew up in the Church. A lot of Churches don’t follow what the written Word says. There’s a Scripture in Matthew where Jesus talked about following the traditions of men, but not following what God said – many false prophets. There are so many religions and all of them say different thing. We know God is not a disorganized God, so there is only one truth. And that’s what I’ve learned from studying the Bible all these years.
Remember King Herod? He made the claim that he wanted to know where the baby Jesus was. So when the Wiseman left, Herod told them to let him know where Jesus was so he could come and worship him. we know that Herod tried to destroy the child – he sought to destroy the baby at that time – all the children from infancy to 3 years old, he had killed. So that tells us that even he didn’t exactly know the date of Jesus’ birth. There’s nowhere in the Bible that reveals the date. So where did that date come from? The traditions of men. So we have to make sure we are worshipping God the way He approves of.”
Wow. This man knew the Bible better than we did. He went on, quoting Scripture. Then Sarah asked, “can we pray with you?” And he asked who we wanted to pray to. “Oh, Jesus Christ! Should have clarified, sorry!” we laughed. We assumed this would be in line with his approval. We were wrong.
“Let me tell you something,” he said respectfully – and then he went on to describe that the truths he learned were by studying under the Jehovah Witness church. He told us that he can’t consider himself a follower of god because of his sin. “My flesh is what’s leading me,” he said. “Everything you do to destroy the temple is not approved.”
I finally asked him, “So do you believe Jesus is God?”
“No, I believe Jesus is God’s son. He is the firstborn of creation. That means that before anything else was created, He was created. He was actually an angel named Michael.”
Sarah and I thanked Ricky and walked away with our hearts heavy and hopeful at the same time. In one conversation, we had been reminded of Truth by a man who knew more than us, except for the one most crucial factor: saving faith in Jesus Christ our Lord. And yet, we had prayed, and God had led us to Ricky. As much as this interaction impacted Sarah and I, all the more do we believe – and pray – it impacted Ricky. God led us to Ricky for a purpose beyond what we can see, and we can trust His purpose is nothing less than good and for His glory.
Ricky's Story: https://www.instagram.com/thecitysgospel/?hl=en
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The Gospel Coalition: 9 Things You Should Know About Jehovah Witnesses