Informal Witnessing in Mexico’s English-Speaking Field
TAKING advantage of the time he spent waiting for his traveling companions in Athens, the apostle Paul engaged in informal witnessing. The Bible reports: “He began to reason . . . every day in the marketplace with those who happened to be on hand.” (Acts 17:17) On his journey from Judea to Galilee, Jesus witnessed informally to a Samaritan woman beside a well. (John 4:3-26) Do you avail yourself of every opportunity to speak about the good news of God’s Kingdom?
The English-speaking field in Mexico especially lends itself to informal witnessing. Tourists visit the resorts, university students come and go, and foreigners who have retired in Mexico frequent parks and restaurants. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses who know English have become adept at striking up conversations with such ones. In fact, they are quite alert to speak to anyone who looks foreign or who speaks English. Let us see how they do it.
Many times those from abroad who are serving in the English field simply introduce themselves to those who are obviously foreigners and ask where they are from. This logically leads to the question of what the Witness is doing in Mexico and gives him the opportunity to share Christian beliefs. For example, Gloria, who is serving where the need is great in the English field in Oaxaca, finds it especially easy to start conversations that way. While returning home from preaching informally in the town square, Gloria was stopped by a couple from England. The woman exclaimed: “I can’t believe that I am seeing a black woman walking on the streets of Oaxaca!” Instead of taking offense, Gloria laughed, and they began to chat about why she was in Mexico. The woman invited Gloria to her home for a cup of coffee. After making an appointment, Gloria offered the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, but the woman declined, saying that she was an atheist. Gloria answered that she enjoyed speaking with atheists and would like to hear her opinion of the article “Places of Worship—Do We Need Them?” The woman accepted, saying: “If you can convince me, then you will really have accomplished something.” Several interesting conversations over coffee followed. The couple later left for England, but the discussions continued by electronic mail.
Gloria was also drawn to Saron, a student from Washington, D.C., who was in Oaxaca doing volunteer work with indigenous women to complete her master’s degree. After commending Saron for her efforts, Gloria explained why she was in Mexico. This led to a fine conversation about the Bible and what God will do not only for the poor but for everyone. Saron commented that it was ironic that while she had never talked to the Witnesses in the United States, one of the first people she met in Mexico was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! Saron accepted a Bible study and began attending Christian meetings right away.
Many foreigners have moved to the beach resorts in Mexico, seeking some kind of paradise. Laurel uses this to start conversations in Acapulco, asking people if Acapulco is more like a paradise than where they come from and what they like about it. Then she explains that soon the whole earth will be a real paradise. This approach to a Canadian woman whom she met in a veterinarian’s office led to a Bible study. Might a similar approach be effective where you live?
‘In the Streets and Public Squares’
Often a conversation is started in the streets and public squares by asking: “Do you speak English?” Many Mexicans do because of their profession or because they have lived in the United States.
A Witness couple approached an elderly lady who was in a wheelchair being pushed by a nurse. They asked the lady if she spoke English. She answered that she did because she for many years lived in the United States. She accepted The Watchtower and Awake!, which she had never read before, and gave them her name, Consuelo, and address. Calling at the address four days later, they found that it was a nursing home run by Catholic nuns. At first, it was difficult to contact Consuelo because the nuns were suspicious and said that Consuelo could not receive them. The couple urged the nuns to let Consuelo know that they were there and wanted to greet her. Consuelo had the couple come right in. Since then, this 86-year-old woman has been enjoying a regular Bible study, despite negative comments by the nuns. She has also attended some Christian meetings.
Proverbs 1:20 says: “True wisdom itself keeps crying aloud in the very street. In the public squares it keeps giving forth its voice.” Notice how that happened in the square of San Miguel de Allende. Early one morning, Ralph approached a middle-aged man who was sitting on a bench. The man was very surprised to be offered The Watchtower and Awake! and told Ralph his story.
He was a Vietnam veteran who as a result of the emotional stress of seeing so much death had suffered a nervous breakdown during his military service. He had been sent from the front line to a camp base. There, he was assigned to wash the bodies of dead soldiers in preparation for their shipment to the United States. Now, 30 years later, he still suffered from constant nightmares and feelings of dread. That morning, while sitting in the square, he had been praying silently for help.
The veteran accepted the literature as well as an invitation to the Kingdom Hall. After attending the meeting, he said that during those two hours at the Kingdom Hall, he experienced peace for the first time in 30 years. This man was in San Miguel de Allende for only a couple of weeks, but he enjoyed several Bible studies and attended all the meetings until he returned home. Arrangements were made for his study to be continued.
Witnessing Informally at Work and School
Are you making yourself known as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at your workplace? Adrián, who sells vacation apartments in Cape San Lucas, does so. As a result, his workmate Judy relates: “Just three years ago, if you had told me that I would become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I would have said, ‘Not in a million years!’ But I decided I wanted to read the Bible. I thought, ‘How hard can it be, since I love to read?’ Well, I don’t think that I got through more than about six pages before I realized that I needed help. The only person I could think of was a workmate named Adrián. I liked to talk with him because he was the only really decent person there.” Adrián immediately offered to come with his fiancée, Katie, and answer all of Judy’s questions. Katie started a Bible study with her, and before too long Judy became a baptized Witness.
How about witnessing informally at school? Two Witnesses were taking Spanish lessons at the university but were absent one day to attend a Christian assembly. When they returned to class, they were asked to relate in Spanish what they had been doing. They took advantage of the opportunity to give a witness as best they could in Spanish. The teacher, Silvia, was very interested in Bible prophecy. She accepted a Bible study in English and is now a publisher of the good news. Several members of her family are also studying. Silvia says: “I found what I have been looking for all my life.” Yes, informal witnessing can produce fine fruitage.
Using Other Opportunities
Being hospitable can lead to giving a witness. Jim and Gail, who are serving in San Carlos, Sonora, found that to be true. A woman who was walking her dogs at 6:00 a.m. stopped to admire their yard. Jim and Gail invited her in for coffee. For the first time in 60 years, she heard about Jehovah and the prospect of everlasting life. A Bible study was started.
Adrienne likewise treats strangers with kindness. She was eating in a restaurant in Cancún when a young boy approached and asked if she was from Canada. When she replied that she was, he explained that he and his mother were trying to assist his sister with a school report on Canadians. The mother, who spoke English, came over. After patiently answering her questions about Canadians, Adrienne said: “But there is a really important reason why I came here from Canada—to help people learn about the Bible. Would you be interested in that?” The woman replied that she would. She had left her church ten years before and had been trying to study the Bible on her own. She gave Adrienne her address and phone number, and a rewarding Bible study was started.
‘Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters’
Speaking about Bible truth on every occasion often results in giving a witness to people who have had little or no opportunity to hear the Kingdom message. In a busy café in the port town of Zihuatanejo, a Witness invited two foreigners to have a seat at her table, as the café was full. This couple had been sailing from place to place for seven years. They expressed their negative feelings about Jehovah’s Witnesses. After the encounter in the café, the Witness visited the couple on their boat and invited them to her home. They accepted over 20 magazines and 5 books and promised to look the Witnesses up at their next port of call.
Jeff and Deb noticed a family with a beautiful baby girl at a food court in a shopping center in Cancún. When they offered a comment about the baby, her parents invited them to share a pizza. It turned out that this family was from India. They had never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor had they seen our literature. They left the shopping center with some Witness publications.
Something similar happened on an island off the coast of Yucatán. A newly married Chinese couple asked Jeff to take pictures of them, which he gladly did. He then found out that although they had lived in the United States for the past 12 years, they had never seen or heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses! A pleasant conversation ensued. Jeff encouraged them to look up the Witnesses on returning home.
There may be a special event in your area that could afford an opportunity to witness informally. When the president of the United States came to visit the president of Mexico at his ranch near Guanajuato, reporters from all over the world covered the event. One Witness family decided to take advantage of this opportunity to preach in English. The response was favorable. For example, one reporter had covered several wars, such as those in Kosovo and Kuwait. A colleague had died in his arms after being shot by a sniper. Upon hearing about the resurrection, the reporter thanked God with tears in his eyes for letting him know that life has a purpose. He said that although he would not see the Witness couple again, he would carry this good news from the Bible in his heart.
As can be seen, the end result of such witnessing is often not known. However, wise King Solomon said: “Send out your bread upon the surface of the waters, for in the course of many days you will find it again.” He also said: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success, either here or there, or whether both of them will alike be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 6) Yes, zealously “send out your bread” upon many waters and “sow your seed” generously, as did Paul and Jesus and as do these modern-day Witnesses in Mexico’s English-speaking field.