PEN PAL MINISTRY
Debbies's Pen-Pal Ministry
I came into the truth beginning in 1986 (was baptized in 1987) through a rather different means. I have had pen-pals since I was 17 and had written to people all over the world. So I have a great love of this hobby. When I was 23, I was contacted by an elderly shut in sister in California. SHE LOCATED ME THROUGH WHAT WE PEN-PALER'S CALL FRIENDSHIP BOOKS.
Postal pen-pals swap these little things by the dozens or hundreds. They are just a few little pieces of paper (2" x 3" or so) stapled together. As they are passed on, each person writes their name and address, what their interests are, if they want more pals and for what, etc.
This sister found me when I had never even heard of Jehovah's Witnesses. She was 86 at the time. She would be 97 now if she is still alive. Last I heard, she was in a nursing home. Her name is Alice Wolfson and she lived in a suburb of Oakland, California. Because of my great love for the hobby, I've continued to this day, but adjusting to make it something I do for Jehovah and not just for myself. I first witnessed to all the pen-pals I had, about 70...all dropped me. That was before I had a study, had seen the magazines, or attended a meeting. I only had sister Wolfson, the little blue truth book, and the KJV Bible. I also began to put Bible ads in the friendship booklets that came my way. And I deliberately sought out those who just swapped them so that I could get my ad and offer into the view of as many people as possible. Keep in mind that pen-palling is a way of informal witnessing. We wouldn't just say, "I'm a JW, do you want some literature?" anymore than we would stand in line at the checkout of the grocery store and say that. You get into conversation in a different manner from our door work where people know as soon as they see us who we are and what we are there for. With informal witnessing, the basic idea is to talk about the Bible, see who is interested and in what and follow up on that. From Sister Wolfson, I learned that most people (pen-pals) had a dislike of Witnesses and from receiving literature in the mail (something many non JW pen-pals have confirmed ever since....that nearly all just throw it away). So she taught me, and I have learned from experience, that it is best to wait 2 or 3 letters (or until they ask) to tell them I'm a JW.
I make my initial contact centered on things I know people would like to hear and would think we don't believe in...like John 3:16. (Info about Jesus being God's Son, dying for sins, etc. I state we offer free Bible studies and materials...that all we do is free and no one receives salaries for their work or payment, etc. Another popular wrong idea is that we do this to gain money...) I even make bookmarks with that scripture and my address and offer of free studies. I encourage all I write to to feel free to pass on my things to others if they are not interested. And I am careful to apologize for any inconvenience if they would rather not get such things. From my tactics, I'm best with those who are or have been extremely opposed to the Witnesses.
I have managed to place literature with nearly all of the people who have written to me including those who were very opposed. Some have started to study with local witnesses and come into the truth themselves. Some of the means I've used besides friendship books to locate people are to make postcards (pretty ones) on my computer (only costs 20 cents to mail which makes them cheaper). I have also had pen-pals make friendship books for me...and I've made little ads or business cards on my computer and had others pass them around for me.
Many a person has not wanted information themselves, but because of my kindness and not forcing things on them, have been happy to pass on things for me to all their pals. ONE LADY LIKED MY LETTER SO MUCH SHE WROTE BACK FOR PERMISSION TO PHOTOCOPY IT AND SEND IT TO HER 100 PLUS PEN-PALS!! course, I gave it to her!!! As a result of all this, I USUALLY RECEIVE 4 OR 5 REQUESTS FOR BIBLE STUDY INFORMATION and materials in the mail EACH MONTH--without having to write to them first!
I place that many knowledge books....the Reasoning book and Greatest Man books are also good placements.
I also have a list of email people who are researching and want email updates when I put more Bible information on my site. About 30 to 40 of my ICQ contacts are people interested in the Bible, but not JWs yet. Many are Wiccans, Pagans, some Muslims, some with no religion, etc. I email articles to them and have sent literature by regular postal mail to some. I have no idea how many thousands of people I've contacted through these means. I have received postal letters from people in other countries asking for Bible studies and telling me they found my ad in their church's religious magazine.
(I don't submit these, but someone who thought my offer was wonderful sent it in and the editors chose to publish it.) Someone in Austria knew me somehow and gave my address to a man in Pakistan (who was the Branch Director of the Pentecostal Church in that country). I got several letters to him, but he was horrified I was a JW. So nothing more came of it. I always remember some of the information about Jesus from our publications, particularly the information about him that made his so approachable in his ministry. It is said of him that he was so kind and concerned with people that it was visible just in the look on his face. So many of today's religionists have phony smiles and phony honey voices, etc. that many people are just sick of having to listen to them. I've met many people who smiled at you only when you were looking and got a scowl when you weren't (they thought) and the smile comes back as soon as you look back. We can't be two faced like this. Our concern has to be genuine and recognized. Jesus was also easy to talk to. People felt comfortable asking him all sorts of questions and knew they would get a Bible answer. Most religions today are a sit down, shut up, just accept it groups. Be sure to let people know you value their input and welcome all their questions. Be sure they know that they can use any Bible version they prefer. Our publications use many versions and most of us have at least several different ones if not a big collection of Bible versions. Do you collect Bible versions? Let them know that. My collection of Bibles is my favorite and valued collection. Sometimes I mention it on the little friendship books....many people have read them and written to ask me about my Bible collection. If you have the ability and can afford it, don't feel you shouldn't send little gifts like Bible verse bookmarks to pen-pals. I make some on my computer and also some stationery.....I include this or address labels with Bible verses to many. It goes a long way. Sometimes, these people tell many others....(Hint: Be sure to get your address and offer of "Free Bible studies. Bible Questions Welcome" on back of the bookmarks or in the text of the sticker/labels when ever you can.
Sometimes, I even mention that I will send a few bookmarks with Bible verses to anyone who sends me a self addressed stamped long envelope. To some of my pals, I include a few sheets of Bible verse stationery for them to use...often with a pretty picture of Jesus or Noah's Ark My most important aims are to get my name, address and offer to as many people as I can.....use the Bible as much as possible....emphasize that it is the main textbook, use lots of scriptures including ones that are just for interest rather than to just beat a point into someone's head....encourage people to feel at home with you and to open up to you/ask Bible questions, etc. Don't be egotistical. Don't tell a whole lot of your accomplishments, etc. They will find out if they want. Don't overburden with information. Let them have their own pace even more so than studies you start in door work. These have been very successful for me. You will have to sift out a lot though to avoid spending time and resources on those who don't have a deep interest. Many of them will very quickly lose interest in Bible things and just want to write to you.
You will have to tell many that you can only write to those wanting Bible helps. I USUALLY tell this in my very first letter!!! Just so that those who aren't really interested will be able to stop writing first thing and so they will be expecting it if I tell them I can no longer write as I'm only able to handle those who want Bible studies and not all that want to write to me for entertainment or social reasons. These aren't hard and fast rules. People out there are different and our brothers and sisters have different interests and personalities as well. Someone who feels threatened or uncomfortable with me, may just adore another JW and vice versa. Test the waters. When you really get going, you will find it is very easy. There may be some particular type of pen-pal or group you want to limit yourself to.
Many who have a disability locate publications for that and write to people in those publications. I know a sister with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) who does this and some others do the same will different ailments or health problems including websites for same.
At my website, there are some email pen-pal sites where you can find hundreds or thousands of people wanting internet email pen-pals. And you can leave free ads of your own asking for Bible students....They are linked on the page with my life story and personal info (snail mail pail....only 1 of those sites are for postal pals). I have more links to get up there for that. I have a list of JW sites, but only send it in email to those I'm sure are JWs. That is one reasons why my main page doesn't state my faith....it is for interested ones, people to find on search engines, my "return visits", etc. I don't want to make it real easy for apostates or something to find all my spiritual family.
Oklahoma, U.S.A. 1/99
A NOTE FROM DEBBIE:
REACHING PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD --
EVEN IN BANNED COUNTRIES
[through Pen-Pal Ministry on pen-pal websites]
I've started a pen-pal website (internet version of a friend's postal one) at http://members.tripod.com/~Cookies_Chatter/index.html. We are part of a pen-pal service webring. Some 200 pen-pal sites can be accessed by clicking on the "list sites" link on the pen-pal webring frame.
Hundreds or thousands of people seeking pen-pals are available on these sites (there is also another link of pen-pal sites further down the main page).
There are many men (which I don't write to as they tend to try to get romantic with females, but brothers might have some success).
You can even reach people in IRAN, IRAQ and OTHER BANNED COUNTRIES! They are good places for interested brothers or sisters to find studies or return visits.
I have met a teenaged girl in the Ukraine from firstname.lastname@example.org (a pen-pal club). I've sent the Knowledge book, Greatest Man and Reasoning books to her. She is getting her whole family interested in these and her sister is also starting to ask questions through her. Many addresses in FORMER USSR TERRITORIES are in the pen-pal sites too. There is just no end of people you can find to start up a conversation (and no limit to WHERE they are located).
This is a very touching experience (and suspenseful account) of how an opposer of Jehovah's witnesses in a personal quest to prove Jehovah's witnesses wrong learns the truth through Debbie's Pen-pal Ministry!
I WOULD SHOW HER "THE ERROR OF HER WAYS" & GIVE HER "THE EYE-OPENERS" SHE NEEDED!!
Hi! My name is Cookie. I have to admit had anyone told me even 3 years ago I would be embracing the Jehovah's Witness faith and studying in the TRUTH, I in no way would have believed them at all, not even a tiny bit!
Debbie Pittman (the world needs more Debbies!!) wrote to me upon seeing my name in a newsletter offering Bible studies, well I had learned long ago to "feel" a Watchtower magazine in an envelope before opening it up so it would always go in the trash unopened or in the trash after opening it and seeing what it was. But after searching thru Debbie's letter to me offering Bible studies (out of MY OWN BIBLE or Bible of MY choice!!) I was convinced or satisfied that she wasn't one of those pesky Jehovah's Witnesses!
So, I wrote her back and told her as much, never knowing that was exactly what I was dealing with, so she wrote a letter back, a very nice and informative one and gently asked why was I against the JW's, but still not a clue as to the fact that she was one. So on the 3rd letter she breaks it to me that she IS one of those Jehovah's Witnesses!!! I was VERY surprised, how did this possibly happen when I had my JW radar out????
However, that was okay, she was going to be showed a thing or two and I would shock her with the realities of this awful belief she had! Well where do I start to show her the error of her ways?? ME! Me-- that has been confused all my life-- going to show a JW the error of their ways!! Yes I can imagine the smile on your face as you are reading this. Well, I called my sister, Patsy, and read Debbie's next couple of huge and very long letters over the phone to her. My sister, now, is a "good Christian" and a very loyal and faithful worker "for the Lord" now for 30 years. When it snowed too bad to get up the hill to church she parked her car at the bottom of the hill and walked about 1/2 mile to church that is how dedicated she is or has been, there every time the doors were open! She cleans the church, anything and everything If there was anything to be done for the Lord, my sister, Patsy was right there doing it! SO... I just thought she knew everything there was to know or that you could possibly ask her about the Bible! And that she would be my mouthpiece to show Debbie the error of her ways!!
However, much to my shock and dismay Patsy was not able to refute (to my satisfaction) ANYTHING to the point where I could write back and give Debbie the blasting and eye openers she needed! It looked like I was on my own in this quest of mine, well I already know that you are well aware of the amount of patience Debbie must have had and displayed many times with me, however the really odd thing is that about the 6th letter it dawns on me that the searching I was doing to try to prove how WRONG she was , was proving to me how RIGHT she was, and yes it really did say those things and I had been reading them my entire life and never seeing them like that before, not ever!
Anyway, that all sounds so simple but I did not accept this SIMPLY at all! However, I WAS interested by this time......all my life I have been RUDE to JW's, terribly and unkindly RUDE! I am ashamed of it now, I really am. Anyhow I finally contacted a place here in town to see if they could tell me of someone that went to the Kingdom Hall (at that time I was wanting to know who the "pastor" was)...so this one church told me she did know of this one family that went but she didn't know who the "pastor" was...neither of us realizing they do not have them!...smile...
So I called the telephone number and this young lady answered and asked me why did I want to reach someone at the Kingdom Hall, so I briefly explained to her (I can't imagine me explaining anything "briefly") so she asked for my address, she came by within days, that was around late Oct of last year or early Nov, she never got past the door till in Feb of this year!!
Took weeks before I would even allow her to slip a WATCHTOWER/AWAKE! thru the door...I just knew if I let one of those things come in my home I would be dead and in hell by the next morning!! (Baptist faith!!) as you can see I was still fighting, I didn't want to accept that this WAS the TRUTH that Debbie had been telling .. I thought might be, but had not fully accepted it and I wasn't real sure once I made that phone call and actually got in touch with someone from here/locally that I wanted them to prove to me it WAS the TRUTH either. I was quite comfortable...well settled in my confused rut that I had been in for many years. It was so much easier to say I didn't understand ...but it was such an empty feeling and I was tired of that empty
feeling...finally this young lady and I started Bible study in Feb of last year (I said this year earlier, sorry but we are talking about 97 and 98, not 98 and this year).
I can remember my first reaction when this young lady came to me door, she couldn't have been over 23, possibly 21 at that time, and my very thoughts were "What in the world does that young kid think she can possibly teach me?" and I was kind of insulted by them sending such a young person to teach me about the Bible! I did not realize till much later that no one sent Heather to me but Heather herself, as the house where I called that day was just a place that she works at, not her real home, but she just happened to be the one to answer the phone that day. It took me a while to get over that you kid thing and not sure I was over it yet by the time I let her start coming in...WOW, did I ever learn what that young person COULD teach me!! She has been an absolute godsend, absolutely!! Heather has shown such patience with me, no one has ever been that patient with me before, not even my own mother! all this from a young woman in her early 20's! We have had a long, rough year, we are still studying, and I am sure I am still trying her young patience, but she is so patient, so very patient, you would think she is the older one and me the young immature in knowledge one.
I know Jehovah sent this young lady to me, also Debbie Pittmen is a major factor he let into my life, from way out in OK no less....I have been having a terrible personal struggle since mid Jan as I was very angry at God for letting someone I loved dearly and wanted to spend the rest of my life with, die so suddenly, one day there were plans and hopes and dreams and then a sharp pain between his shoulders that wouldn't go away, a biopsy, a diagnosis of advanced liver cancer and within weeks he was gone!!
I held up well and leaned heavily on my faith in Jehovah during his illness, but for some reason (and I think it was my own downfall and turning my back on God) I found my heart so cold and bitter around mid Jan .. my friend died 1/1/99, I think I was actually angry at God for so long and am just now finding my way back to him.
I am going to talk to Debbie about what
steps I must take to get baptized.... I know I have much to learn, but at least
I once again am headed in the right direction,
Your sister in Christ, C.B.