Benny Hinn’s healing ministry as seen on the TV Channels appears convincing. We see total cure: people getting rid of tumours and cancer growths. Those who came with support systems like wheel chairs, oxygen masks, and other equipments become independent of those equipments which they throw away on the platform where Benny Hinn preaches. He proclaims that it was all done by the Holy Spirit whose presence is manifest at the meeting. It is difficult to disbelieve when such miracles happen before ones own eyes.
Amidst all these manifestations as essential features of Christian faith, where does the church stand? -- the church as I knew it in my childhood and in my youth?
33) A brief contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses
It happened in Bombay. May be in early 1970s. I was thirsty for the knowledge of the Bible. It will be more true to say I was curious to know, because I had only a superficial understanding of Christian faith. Then they dropped in at my place one evening: a couple of them, Jehovah’s Witnesses, with an alluring smile and they immediately recognised they had hit on a soft target i.e. me! That was my first contact with them; they made themselves comfortable, and they came straight to the purpose of their visit.
Brother Sandersen and Melody, his wife, both from Austral;ia, were regular to visit us on Wednesday evenings to enlighten us on the Christian scriptures and faith, as understood by the J.Ws. According to their practice they pushed a few books (on payment) describing the creation, fall of man, etc which we were obliged to buy and study during the other six days of the week. The J.W’s are good sales men and women. One of their activities is canvassing and pushing the sale of their publications which they did efficiently and submitted a report of their weekly sale to the Watch Tower (their place of worship) authorities.
When they knew that I was sufficiently initiated, they dragged us (the family) to attend their worship twice a week, besides their study at home, now with Bro.Masillamani and his wife. We were introduced to Bro,Skinner who was the elder in charge of the activities of the J.Ws in the whole of Maharashtra. Slowly we became acclimatised to the J.W way of worship. We were required to read and learn a few pages (or paragraphs) of the magazine “Watch Tower”, earmarked for a particular Sunday worship. Those paragraphs had some questions attached at the bottom of the page. During the worship the same questions were asked and members of the congregation had to reply exactly as it was given in the pages of the “Watch Tower”. Any answer outside the article or independent opinions were not only not accepted but also severely discouraged. No one dared to air ones own ideas or question the thoughts expressed in the “Watch Tower”. So unawares, step by step, the members became slaves to the magazine which is a produced from the US for the benefit of the entire world of J.Ws. It is rigidly followed by date and by allotted portion all over the world. One became a clog in the invisible world machinery of J.Ws. One just toes the thoughts of their elders in Seattle who think and print these books and magazines on behalf of and for the enlightenment of its members world over. That is why you will find all J.Ws reflect the same thought and swear by it not knowing that they have become intellectual slaves of the rigid J.Ws organization. This went on with me for a little over a year.
Then they decided I should take immersion baptism with them. One ‘brother’ was sent to examine my preparedness for it. There was a difficult condition in it, one that was not practicable for me, a school teacher. I was asked if I would keep away from celebrations of national days and functions, stop singing the National Anthem and segregate myself from the students when the National Anthem was sung by the school kids in their morning assemblies. My school management would not accept this behaviour from one of its teaching staff. I would stand out as an odd individual among the staff, perhaps even a rebellious one. One cannot foretell what action the school would take if I followed the JWs’ instructions. I would, perhaps, put my job at stake. I suddenly woke up to the realities of my life and my family responsibilities. I realised I had gone too far with the J.Ws and abruptly broke my contact with them. I never regretted my decision.