Friday 7 February 2014

All Along the Watchtower

Elijah and Benjamin are old school Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been round the block and then some, faithfully spreading the good news across the land from Kernow to Kinross and back again. They work all day and hand over a significant portion of their earnings to the Kingdom Hall each month. When they are not in church they visit the sick or else distribute the Watchtower, inviting the non-believer to take up a better way. It is a thankless task but they do it willingly, knowing that they will receive their reward in heaven.

During last year’s long, hot, relentless summer they decided to take their chances with a massive, generally avoided housing estate on the outskirts of London and took a week off work to try and cover every house; find every willing ear.  After one particularly long, weary day, having been seen off by dogs, chased from the doorsteps by angry pensioners annoyed at having their daytime television interrupted and more than once been confronted with knives, they decided that the last house in this street would be their final call for the day.

They rang the doorbell and waited politely for an answer. None came but inside they could hear a television turned up loud, so they surmised that somebody must be home. They rang again and again there was no response. Elijah made to turn away but Benjamin stayed him with a hand and said, “One more try, brother.” And with that he knocked firmly on the door in the old, familiar pattern: shave-and-a-hair-cut *beat* two-bob! After a few seconds the television was turned down and they saw a curtain move in the adjacent by window.

Presently an old lady appeared at the door and bade them welcome. “You’ll have to speak up!” she shouted  “I’m a bit deaf!” She beckoned them in. Elijah looked at Benjamin and Benjamin looked back and then, after a pause they followed her inside. She ushered them into the lounge and indicated that they should take a seat. Before either of them could speak she asked, “Would you like tea?” and disappeared off into the kitchen. Perched side by side and rather uncomfortably upright on the sofa, the two witnesses looked at each other. Long minutes passed.

Eventually the old lady reappeared bearing a tray filled with cakes and biscuits. She poured them both a cup of tea, urged them to take a plateful of food and settled herself down into her armchair. In the corner the television flickered away with the sound muted. Making herself comfortable she took a sip of tea, put down her cup and addressed the pair. “Now dears, what can I do for you?” she asked.

Elijah spoke out and in a polite and earnest voice asked, “Can you spare a moment to talk about our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ?” The old lady stared at him and blinked. She pulled aside her hair and pointed to her ear; a hearing aid was clearly visible. “I’m sorry” she said “can you speak up please?” Elijah repeated his question, loud enough to startle Benjamin, whose teacup rattled in its saucer, “CAN YOU SPARE A MINUTE TO TALK ABOUT JESUS CHRIST?”

The old lady smiled, took a sip of tea and said, “Of course, dears. Where would you like to start?” Benjamin looked at Elijah. Elijah looked at Benjamin. For a moment neither of them spoke, but each silently invited the other to make the first move. Eventually it fell to Benjamin to confess, “We don’t know, ma’am. We never got this far before.”

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