.: Chris S
It was in 1967 when my family started associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses. My mother had had me Christened in the United Church in June of 1963 when I was only six months old, but at four years old, she started studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, other than the two or three times when I went to United Church Sunday School, Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only religion I knew growing up. I was surprised to learn that my grandmother’s family had been associated with them since the late 1800’s. By 1968 my father also started studying to become a Jehovah’s Witness, and in 1971, he underwent water baptism as a sign of his devotion to the organization.
I grew up being taught that I was serving Jehovah, the true God, and that to be disobedient to my parents or to the elders–that is, the Watchtower Society –was to be disobedient to Jehovah. As I entered into the teenage years, I set my sights on serving at the Canadian Watchtower Branch headquarters, and put in as much time as I could in the door-to-door work of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. At age seventeen, I too underwent water baptism and considered myself to have become a spokesperson for Jehovah as one of His favored ones, associated with the only true religion on earth.
I really loved serving in the Watchtower. I decided that the way to really get a grasp and firm solid hold on the Watchtower Organization was to research its history from the beginning. I thought I wouldn’t have anything to lose from doing this research. Now, I did have some questions regarding some of the doctrines taught by the Watchtower Society, but I set those doubts on the back burner of my mind and began reading and researching. In the process, I found that many doctrines had changed over the years—even switching back and forth from one idea being accepted to not being accepted and back to the first position held. This was called “new light” and was something that I never bought into.
I also doubted the Watchtower teaching that only a select few were favored enough of Jehovah to inherit heaven. But, if that belief was true, then I as a Jehovah’s Witness in good standing who longed for heaven, considered myself one of these select 144,000. But no one believed me, and I was in simple terms laughed off the stage. This led to further investigation of all I had been taught–seeking to verify whether it was true from Scripture. I made a list. On one side, I listed what I could verify from Scripture, and on the other side, I listed what Jehovah’s Witnesses taught that could not be truthfully verified in Scripture.
What was I to do? To state my growing disbelief would be spiritual suicide as a Jehovah’s Witness. I held it all inside until it became too much for me to bear. I began drinking heavily, seeking a way out of my dilemma. I was then diagnosed as a manic depressive person and my health began to fail. I was still too timid to declare my disbelief on these issues because I knew that if I did so, I would lose my family, friends, and heavenly hope, in addition to having to face the sin I was involved in with excessive alcohol and abuse of prescription drugs.
In 1992, I cracked. I was hospitalized for two month, and in that time, I did a lot of soul searching. I did return to the Watchtower in 1994, but by 1996, I knew for sure I could not remain in the organization, following spiritually blinded men from an office in Brooklyn. I reasoned that if I continued as I had been doing, I definitely would never see heaven. Yet, if they were “the truth,” I was not a good enough Jehovah’s Witness and would not see heaven anyway.
What a dismal set of circumstances! For four years, I did nothing except read every Watchtower that I possessed to further confirm or dispel what I had learned from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my last meeting with them, an elder told me not to read the bible on my own as we could not understand it without guidance from the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses whose “hand-downs” were supposedly direct from Jehovah. By 2000, I was really feeling that I should pick it up again, and if God was real to seek him out. My wife who had briefly been a Jehovah’s Witness, wanted nothing to do with God or religion, so she moved out. There I was, no family because I was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, no friends because all I had were Jehovah’s Witnesses and so on.
At this point, TRUE friends were put into my life. I say “put in” because it was definitely the Lord’s work. An evangelical couple in my complex began to reach out to me. The lady read Scripture with me, prayed for me, counseled me from the Bible, and gradually chipped away at all that still lingering in my Watchtower reasoning. Her pastor came and visited me and this was the first truly kind man I had contact with in several years. I went to their church and felt like the proverbial fish out of water.
However, the Lord was working in me. On March 15, 2001 in the sanctuary of this church, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Wow! How life has been so different since then! I now serve as a Preacher, and lead the Praise and Worship at our church. Jesus has brought me out of spiritual blindness and slavery to men, to the foot of His cross, and then to following Him with my sins forgiven and my salvation being by His grace.
He has delivered me from alcohol and drug abuse. No longer do I have to doubt where I am going after I die. Jesus loves me and assures me of my inheritance in Christ. Today, I also have been blessed to sponsor an outreach of encouragement to other former-Jehovah’s Witnesses needing such, and also current Jehovah’s Witnesses dissatisfied and seeking Jesus.
If you have not yet given Jesus a real chance to lead you, whether you are a Jehovah’s Witness or one of the others held captive in a cult or false religion, I implore you to do so. Disregard all the man-made threats that say that you will be doomed if you leave your current religious affiliation. We ARE LOVED by the Lord! Give Him the space in your life, I promise you won’t regret it.