Ashton – Ex-Jehovah’s Witness

ashton

.:ASHTON

I was born and raised as a third generation Jehovah’s Witness.  My biological mother was only 14 years old.  Her father, my grandfather, said he could not raise another baby—especially one without a father—without any help.  He was already a single father trying to raise 3 children alone.  His wife, my grandmother, was institutionalized; so my biological mother was forced to give me up for adoption.

Coincidentally, the secretary in the law office that took care of the adoption was also a Jehovah’s Witness, who belonged to my adoptive family’s congregation.  She knew that my adoptive parents were looking to adopt and made them aware of this 14-year-old girl who was nearly ready to give birth.  Arrangements were made and I was immediately adopted into this new Jehovah’s Witness family.  I went straight from the hospital to their home.

My father was an elder in the Watchtower organization for 17 years, and my mother was considered one of the anointed members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  From the age of 3 to 7, I was molested by my grandfather on my adoptive dad’s side.  My grandfather was a Jehovah’s Witness Ministerial Servant/Elder and had served as a Circuit Overseer.  He had a daughter who was six months older than I was, and my mom suspected that he was molesting her (my aunt). My mother had seen him doing some inappropriate things with his daughter, so she went to my dad (an elder) and told him, and he refused to believe it, and he refused to confront his father, because my mother did not have any other witnesses to it.

No one knew that he was being inappropriate with me as well.  I was told by him that what was happening was how I knew he loved me. He said that no one else loved me, because it didn’t happen with anyone else, so I never told anyone because it did make me feel special that he loved me that much, but no one else did.  My mother said she said one time that I had made comments about my dad not loving me like my grandfather did, but she never put it together.  My parents continued to take us over to his house for many years. We eventually moved to another state for different reasons. I remember being very sad because I would not have that “love” from my grandfather anymore.

My grandfather had been inappropriate with my mother when she was 8 months pregnant with my middle brother. I saw it happen.  My mom went to my dad again, and my dad would not turn him in again because my mom did not have a witness. I was too young to be a witness. My mom didn’t know I had seen anything. I did not tell anyone until I turned 18 about any of it.  I took my mother to lunch and told her what had happened, or what I think had happened because I had blocked out a lot of it. I was then taken to the elders and was made to tell the entire story in detail, or as much as I could, to the elders.  They took the info and went to my grandfather, and he denied anything ever happening.  They then said that since he denied it and I had no witnesses and it was so long ago, nothing could be done about it, and nothing could be done to him.

When our friends caught wind of my accusation, many of them sided with my grandfather.  Almost all of our friends chose to remain his friend and turned their backs on us because I had accused him of such a horrible thing.  Only one family continued to be our friends, and she and her husband are now born again Christians today as well.

Before I was disfellowshipped in 1990, I was trying to become a “full-time pioneer,” but my hours in service were not up to their standard, so I was rejected by the elders.  I made the decision to work on my hours by getting out in-service as much as I could and then try again.  Although, I never made it to “pioneer” status, I was considered “full-time” in-service.

When I was 23 years old, I made the choice to ask a man from work to help me escape from my abusive family situation.  I knew that would mean that I would also have to leave my religion, even though at the time, I was not fully against their beliefs.  I just knew I had to get out of a very bad situation at home.  I ended up becoming intimately involved with this co-worker, which resulted in me being taken into a “judiciary meeting” with the elders.  There, they told me that if I wanted to continue to date my co-worker, Kirk, I could do so, but I could not have relations with him.  I knew that would mean that I would have no choice but to go back into the bad environment at my home, so I made the choice to tell them “NO,” and that I would not stop seeing this man in an intimate manner.  They told me that because of my choice, they had no choice but to disfellowship me.  I said okay, and I left.  My entire family shunned me for over two years after that, because of my choices.

Two years later, I married Kirk and we have been married now for 15 years.  We have two boys, ages 14 and 3 years.  After my marriage, my family finally contacted me again and told me that my mother had been reading the Bible diligently.  When she was in the organization, my mother had been struggling with some of the Watchtower’s teachings and had spent many hours in personal Bible study away from the Watchtower’s publications.  Through this personal study, she was seeing things that showed her that the Watchtower was a false religion.  One of the things she realized was that Jesus is divine, and not Michael the Archangel as the Watchtower teaches.

My family informed me that they were going to be leaving the Watchtower.  At that time, I was in the process of considering reinstatement into the organization so that I could have my family back, but when I found out that they were planning to leave, I decided to stay disfellowshipped and not return.  My entire family came out of the Watchtower in 1992.

Although I was disfellowshipped in 1990, I kept most of the beliefs and mindset of the Watchtower until 2005.  When I first left the Watchtower, my mother became my guru, the person I turned to on spiritual matters.  She had begun to read the Bible for 18 hours a day after leaving the Watchtower, and she would call and tell me the things she was learning, or we’d get together and she would show me what she had found in her reading.  Much of it concerned things she didn’t really understand, so she would just guess and say, “It must mean this….”  Eventually, her errors led her into believing that she had past lives and she began to believe in reincarnation.  She now is fully into this belief, and she believes that she and her entire family (yes, me too) had past lives and are actually reincarnated people from the Bible.  She also believes that she is one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11.

Eventually, she and I had a falling out which caused us to stop speaking for about 6 months.  During that time, I began looking into the Bible for myself and I began to stop relying on my mom to meet my spiritual needs.  That’s when I discovered my need to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.  For weeks, I read everything I could.  I began to study Scriptures on salvation, on being born again, and on Jesus’ Deity.  I researched many Internet sites that dealt with ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses as well, which led me to Paltalk where I met a woman named Barb in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness chat room.  She has been a great help to me in the three years that I have known her.

When I began to read about the fact that I needed to know Jesus personally, that my salvation was not in all the things I had been doing, that it was simply believing and repenting and knowing WHO He is, I initially found myself very angry at being lied to my whole life.  I had been denied the love of Christ and that much-needed relationship with Him—that personal relationship of a father to a much-loved child.  But I went from anger to sadness to pure joy and fulfillment when I finally realized Who I now have in my life.  NO ONE could take that away from me and I could finally rest from all my works.  It hit me like a ton of bricks the day I realized that all I had to do was believe on His name and I would be saved.  That was the day my whole world changed.  I let go of my sins; I confessed them out loud; and I prayed for God to reveal to me anything that I needed to repent of.

Although I never said an “official” sinner’s prayer, I knew in my heart that I had become HIS CHILD—that I was different and could no longer lead the life I had been leading.  Some time after that, I noticed that I had stopped calling Him Jehovah and began to call Him Father, but even today I’m not 100% sure who I’m praying to—the Father or the Son—so I pray to them both and direct my prayers to them both.  I will even pray to the Holy Spirit when I need wisdom and understanding during my Bible study.  One month, after I came to Christ, I began to look for a local church in order to be properly baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I found a very nice one, and my family and I have been attending it ever since.

Six months after I found my church home, my mother decided to speak to me again.  Eventually our conversation came around to my salvation because she noticed a difference in me and in the way I was able to understand Scripture on my own.  When I told her about what happened to me, she was very happy for me until I told her that I had been re-baptized in a Christian church.  She promptly told me she could no longer speak to me and hung up the phone.  She has been shunning me ever since.  That’s how she deals with people who don’t believe as she does.  She believes I am in eternal trouble because I have chosen to attend a church that is a part of what she believes is “Babylon the Great” and I am going to die in “her” sins.  My parents still do not accept anything that has to do with orthodox Christianity.  My mom still prays to Jehovah just like she did when she was in the Watchtower.  I pray for them daily that they will be able to come out from under the mind control of the Watchtower that is definitely still present in their lives.

Today, along with my husband Kirk, who was never a Jehovah’s Witness, and our oldest son Derek, I am a born-again child of God.  Praise the Lord!  My family and I study God’s word daily, sharing His love with others.  We feel strongly that it is important to be in fellowship with other born-again Christians and so we are active in our local church.  It is our love for God that spurs us on to want everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and experience the indwelling Spirit that only He can offer.  My walk with Jesus is ever growing, through daily Bible study and prayer.

I didn’t grow up doing these things on a daily basis in our Jehovah’s Witness home, so I am ever a work in progress, but my love for Christ compels me to want to know Him more and be closer to Him everyday.  When I started to read the Bible for myself and discovered my need for Jesus Christ in my life, I really had no idea Who He was and what He truly meant in the lives of true Christians.  But since coming to know Him as my Personal Lord and Savior in March of 2005, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus died for ME personally, and that without a relationship with Him, I would surely die in Hell.

God has been helping me recover from my experiences. Every time I tell my testimony, I am stronger in spirit and thankful to God for protecting my heart and mind in my life.  I care about anyone who is leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having been through child abuse and molestation at the hands of Jehovah’s Witness family members and friends, I can be of much help in this area too.  I’ve suffered from many effects from the abuse, including food issues and promiscuity, but I did remain a virgin until I was 23 years old. I tried to kill myself, lashed out at anyone and everyone around me, and I still do try to sabotage relationships when people get too close, but my Jesus is helping me recover from these things, and I am stronger every day.

I would NOT ask God to remove my past from me, because I have a testimony that can help others who have been where I have been.  I also grew up with a prayer life with Jehovah. I was alone a lot due to my mom putting me in my room for long periods of time as punishment. Later, I found out it was because she couldn’t deal with my issues and it was easier to just pack me away in my room than deal with me, so those long hours with nothing to do were spent in prayer to Jehovah about silly things, but I prayed anyway, because I felt He was there and listening when no one else would listen.  My past has led me to where I am today and I am happy that I am in the loving arms of my Jesus.  My heart is full of love for those who have been where I have been, and I want them to know the same joy and peace that I have now in my Lord Jesus!

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