Occasionally we like to tell stories of our volunteers on our teams, partially so you can get to know the people you serve with that you may not know very well, and also to be inspired by the great things God is doing in their lives. Below is an interview we did with Bayne Schulstad, a tech volunteer who has a powerful story of finding and following Jesus after 30 years of being a Jehovah’s Witness.
Josh: Bayne, thanks for agreeing to join us today. Tell us what you do for a living.
Bayne: I own a company called Triangle CompuDocs. I provide on-site PC and Mac Repair and IT Support to small business and residential customers for the Raleigh/Durham Triangle area.
J: You certainly have bailed us out of a few computer faux pas here at Journey. Thanks, by the way. But house calls, huh? I bet you’ve had some priceless experiences.
B: Ha! Yea. I once visited a new client in Louisburg and was welcomed at the front door by about 6 cats and a bowl full of what looked like spaghetti. Inside, the home had an obvious roach problem. I tried to power through, despite my discomfort, but when I opened the computer and 50+ roaches crawled out, I could take no more. As the homeowner stood there in her fast food manager uniform stating, “We have a roach problem,” I grabbed her vacuum and started sucking them up. Needless to say, I had the heebie jeebies the rest of the day. Oh, she is no longer a client.
J: I have the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Eesh! Tell us what volunteer responsibilities you have at Journey, besides vacuuming bugs.
B: I am on the tech team at Journey. I run CG (computer graphics) and LiveStream. Occasionally you may see me pulling wires in the ceilings at Journey.
J: Ah, yes, every church has the ceiling climber guy. Nice. Other than climbing in ceilings, what do you like to do for fun and recreation?
B: I enjoy friends and family as much as possible. Of course one of my biggest hobbies is the same thing I do for a living, computers and technology. I have brewed beer for almost 15 years and really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don’t get the opportunity to brew as much as I would like to.
J: Interesting. I’m curious about where you buy your hops and how you store the leftovers. Do you believe in freezing them?
B: I buy hop pellets. I have stored them in the fridge but typically end up buying more anyway. Fresh hops dropped on top of a cold Aviator at the brewery…Yum!
J: Very nice! Bayne, some of our Journey folks have seen your Solutionary video and know some of your story. But a short video cannot do justice to your story. Please give us a little background about your upbringing, your family, and how you eventually became a Christ-follower?
B: When I was 5, my mother became a Jehovah’s Witness. My father, although a good man, never attended church and believed living a good life is good enough. My sister never dedicated her life as a Jehovah’s Witness and now has strong faith as a Christian.
I spent 30 years as a Jehovah’s Witness, but I was never really “all in.” I never felt a personal connection with Jesus. The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses focus on learning and biblical education and have very little to do with praising God.
By 2009, I felt very unsettled about the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had a stirring in my heart, but I didn’t know what it meant. A client and friend, whom I had been trying to preach to, asked me some very thought-provoking questions about my beliefs. My answers to her were vague because I simply did not know how to respond to her questions. Little did I know, those questions spurred in me a strong desire to explore outside of the Jehovah’s Witness organization. She called me one morning and invited me to Journey. I was hesitant because Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught never to venture out like that. But something drew me in and I can only describe it as God’s hand helping me along.
Journey was fascinating to me. The worship. The message. The people. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I had a newfound joy in worship. Although I had given my life to Jesus many years before (as a 15-year-old), I knew that I needed to rededicate my life to Him—that I must accept Him and die to my sins daily.
God’s love has washed me! I clearly see His direction and know He is much bigger than I ever imagined. Living a life of love instead of judgment has been very liberating. I strive to give all glory to God and to truly live a life of love, for God is Love.
J: Man, you have a powerful testimony! I know your story has encouraged and challenged so many people. Bayne, many of us meet Jehovah’s Witnesses around our city, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to them. What would you say is the best approach to sharing the Gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness? For the average Christian, what do we need to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses that would help us engage with them more respectfully and legitimately?
B: JWs teach that their organization is the only earthly organization that God (Jehovah) uses on this earth. Anyone not associated with JWs are considered worldly and part of a false religion. This belief makes it very difficult for JWs to listen openly to other ideas. The fear of losing friends and family paralyzes most JWs, especially lifetime JWs. They would not entertain stepping outside the organization for any reason.
They do believe that Jesus is God’s son, that He died for our sins and that accepting Him is the only way to be forgiven, but they do not believe that Jesus is equal to God or that He is God. They believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s active force and is not a separate entity. But they also believe that you are not eligible to receive the Holy Spirit unless you are praying, attending JW meetings, preaching, reading the Bible daily, and studying their publications.
I do not suggest that you approach a JW with the immediate mission of changing their beliefs. They do not respond well to this approach. Instead, attempt to fellowship and befriend them first. Again, this may be difficult since they will consider you worldly and a member of a false religion. But if Christians can befriend them, associate with them, and serve them, perhaps God will reveal their fears and the doubts they have about their teachings and open the door for deeper discussion about Jesus.
J: That is great advice, Bayne. That’s really the heart of disciple-making. We are not trying to make religious converts. We are trying to make disciples, and disciple-making is beautifully relational. Last question: Tell us what God has been teaching you lately.
B: Well, I am still learning to listen to the voice of God in my life. The biggest lesson that I am learning is patience. I want to know God’s plan for my life now, but He reveals His plan in His timing. I am learning to let go of the illusion of control and give it all to God. I am praying that He will one day lead my sons to Him—the true meaning of Him—and that He will allow me to have a relationship with them once again.
J: Bayne, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview. I appreciate your heart to serve Jesus and to make Him famous in this city.
B: It’s my pleasure.