Jehovah’s Witnesses resume door knocking in Waco after pandemic pause

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 1:00 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, local Jehovah’s Witnesses resumed door-to-door ministry this month.

“If they haven’t seen us already in their neighborhoods, they will see us soon,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. Spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

House-to-house door knocking has been a signature of the religious group for more than 100 years--not even the Great Depression or two world wars stopped it.

However, COVID-19 did.

Due to safety concerns, the pandemic put the door knocking on pause for 30 months.

“It wasn’t safe for us to knock on doors...we think by suspending our in-person meetings and ministry, it saved lives,” said Hendrik.

But consequently, Hendriks says, it made their message more profound.

“Much of this world was brought to its knees, our cities were silenced, our greatest educational institutions were closed down, a $150,000 a year education turned int o a zoom education, the Stock Market swooned,” said Hendrick. “People realized, frankly, that there’s only one thing you can’t take away from me: and that’s my relationship with my creator, dead or alive, and for many people, their spirituality was re-awoken.”

Hendrik says, along with record-level meeting attendance, membership increased during the pandemic.

“We went to a virtual format, so we went to video conferencing for our meetings, which ended up being awesome,” said Hendrik. “Our virtual ministry proved to be very successful, we wrote hundreds of millions of letters, we spend nearly half a billion hours here in the United States writing letters and making phone calls and having virtual bible studies with our neighbors, but with all that said, with all of those virtual and technological advances that we’ve made over the last 30 months to reach out to people, we have found that the best, most effective way to reach out to people and form relationships with people is the door-to-door ministry.”

The staple ‘knocking’ resumed Sept. 1.

“We know that sometimes we are unwelcome visitors, we get that, but we also recognize it is supremely an act of courage, it takes courage to knock on your neighbors door, there must be a good reason why you’re knocking on someone’s door that you don’t know but that you want to come to know, and we do have a good reason, our reason is based in our love for our neighbor, and our reason is based in the fact that we have a message of comfort to deliver to them,” said Hendrik.

Part of that message will come in the form of a virtual Bible study program which they will now offer during door-to-door ministry.

“We finished its development during COVID...it relies on questions and answers, intersections, dramatizations of Bible characters...we’re after somebody learning to love their God and apply Bible principles in their life, and that’s what this program can do,” said Hendrik.

There are now 8.6 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide in 239 countries, according to JW officials, and there are ten English, Spanish and ASL Jehovah’s Witness congregations in Waco along with almost 1,200 “publishers” (Witnesses who preach door-to-door).

Hendrik says they’re hoping some of the less confrontational ministry they used during the pandemic will help them now.

“We think that with all of the letters that we sent out, with all the times that we made phone calls, planted a lot of seeds in people to perhaps be, when we go back to them person-to-person, to react perhaps in a different way to the message,” said Hendrik. “We saw a sustained interest in the course of the 30 months, and we think that will be sustained into the future.”