GLORIA – A 5th Generation Jehovah’s Witness Leaves the Watchtower
Hello, my name is Gloria and I was a fifth generation Jehovah’s Witness. My story goes back over 100 years to the time of my great grandmother. She was born in 1884 and came across Kansas to Oklahoma in the covered wagon. President Hayes had just opened up the land known as Indian Territory for the settlers to homestead, and they rode horse back in a race to stake their claim on the land. At 18, she was married and gave birth to a son. When he was 2 years old, while my great grandmother was shelling peas, he grabbed one, put it in his mouth, chocked and died. This tragedy lead my family to seek God. Unfortunately, Charles Taze Russell had a radio program on at that time, and was coming into town. When Pastor Russell came to town, he came in a carriage pulled by elegant striking black horses, and he was dressed in a black robe. He was quite the showman. They were simple country folks, looking for answers.
So started the journey of my entire family giving up their lives to follow the teachings of one man. They not only followed the teachings of Russell, they became special pioneers and eventually put in 150 hours a month traveling from town to town in the Midwest, showing the photodrama of creation.
That was one of the first talking movies (before talking movies even came to be) and so it drew in many people. At that time, Russell’s group was called the International Bible Students. I had 7 aunts, uncles and great grandparents of the anointed 144,000 (the only ones who as Jehovah’s Witness’s get to go to heaven, which means they actually partook of communion). Most Jehovah’s Witnesses of today do to not partake of communion. Instead, they pass the bread and wine and touch it, but they would not think of actually putting it in their mouths and swallowing it…Yes Jesus at John chapter 6 says, “eat it, partake, or you have no life within yourselves.”
What a tragedy! They did not know the real Jesus Christ of the Bible. Instead, they studied Russell’s distorted teachings on the great Pyramid of Giza as the dating system for when Armageddon would take place. They were constantly looking for the end of the world, instead of looking for God. Russell made claims that his teachings were above the Bible, God sacred book. Yet, his books were covered with pagan Freemasonic signs and symbols and the Pyramid and the Watchtower itself is a symbol of Freemasonry.
Pastor Russell was so convinced of his teaching on the pyramid that he had himself buried under one in a Masonic mortuary, and it reads Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. He also has a stone next to it, where he claims to be the Laodocian messenger. My great grandmother was supposed to pick Pastor Russell from the train the night he died.
In 1947, my family moved to California and my grandparents bought a private estate. They then built apartments on the land and gave land to my mom and dad, and my mother’s brother to build their homes. So, I grew up living next to my great grandmother, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and two cousins.
I had a beautiful childhood, surrounded by family all the time. We traveled all over the United States. My dad would take us for a month at a time and we would pull a travel trailer and camp out. We went to every National and state Park in the USA, plus many in Canada. The only thing wrong was that they did not know the real Jesus.
Then in 1968, the Watchtower came out and said that 1975 would mark the end of the 6000 years of mankind on this earth, and we could shortly thereafter expect Armageddon. So about 8 years of my childhood was spent knocking on doors telling people the end of the world was coming. Many Witnesses I knew were selling their homes and giving the money to the organization. We were all encouraged to Pioneer, which I did.
My grandmother said she did not believe it. She said that they had set dates before that never came true and that one day, my great grandmother and grandfather got up on the roof, waiting all day to be raptured. That did not happen either, but I believed the Watchtower prophecy anyway. I was just a kid and that was what the Watchtower said would happen. They were the true prophets from God, right? At least that is what I thought.
OK, so 1975 was how long ago? Wow! The Watchtower missed that date, didn’t they? The interesting thing is that after 1975 the Governing Body of the Watchtower started saying that they never said that 1975 was the date for the end. They said that overzealous people in the organization took it wrong. But I was there! I know they encouraged people to quit school and sell their homes.
In 1983, my grandmother and great grandmother died suddenly three weeks apart with no warning. My great grandmother was just a few months shy of turning 100 year old. I was disillusioned. I had grown up believing no one in my family would ever die, and that we would all live forever on a paradise earth after Armageddon. Didn’t the Watchtower teach us that this would be the case? So, being that the two main people in my family had just died. I decided to go for a walk. Now, I had been working in flower shops for several years, and for whatever reason I did this (it must have been God), I said to Jehovah:
“Excuse me, but I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t want to talk to you! I want to talk to Jesus. Jesus, Who are you? Did you die for me? Where are my grandmother and great grandmother? Do you have them? If you are real, I want you to prove it by changing my life. I want to work out of my home making flowers for weddings and parties, and I want to work in the movie industry and if you are real, make it happen!”
Now, I don’t know where the idea came from, because I never thought about it before. But within ten minutes of walking back into the house, the phone rang with someone offering me a job to water plants in the offices of the writers and producers at CBS/MTM studios. I thought, well it’s not what I had in mind, but it’s a foot in the door anyway. So, I become the florist to the movie industry since 1973, and did at least 75 weddings a year, never advertising once.
I always knew Jesus gave this to me, but I got lost in working long hours, so there was not a lot of time to pursue “God.” So, about 4 or 5 years into my studio business, I said:
“Jesus, I know you gave this to me, and I want to know Who you are. I really like the fame, fortune, and prestige of this life, and I can’t stop to find You. So, I need You to stop me, so I can find You.”
Well, about 3 days later, I came down with chronic fatigue and could not get out of bed for a year. Interestingly enough, the phone did not ring for one job for a whole year!
My boyfriend at the time was renting a room at my grandfather’s house and had access to all my great grandmother’s books of the Watchtower organization, from 1876 until 1988. So, he brought them over for me to read. I also read 5 different versions of the Bible from Matthew to Revelation, including the Jehovah’s Witness Greek Kingdom Interlinear. I was looking for the changes they had made in their Bible regarding the identity of Jesus. I wrote papers and made photocopies of my findings.
Then, I read a book by Raymond Franz called, Crisis of Conscience. Ray Franz, who was on the Governing Body for the Watchtower, had written most of their books, but when he came to the realization that they were wrong and told others about it, the Watchtower Society immediately disfellowshiped him. So, I read his book but I could only read a few pages a day and then cry the rest of the day, as the stories he told were the same ones my great grandmother had told me when I was growing up. I needed the time to be sick and grieve the fact that my entire family was lied to in the name of God, and that they would cut me off, shunning me, for believing the truth once they discovered what I found.
After a year of extensive reading and research, I asked Jesus into my heart and became well. I started going to a small church Bible study that was teaching verse-by-verse and teaching from the Greek and Hebrew text that expounded upon the history of Bible times. So, I was getting intense Bible study. I told my mom, but she turned me into the elders and that was the start of the end of my involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses. So, I told the elders:
“We knock on doors telling people to examine their religion and offer them a 6-month Bible study. I grew up in this religion, so I deserve 6 months to study the Bible without the guidance of the Watchtower.”
When they gave the time to me, I went to Bible College and studied about the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons being cults. I learned that being a Christian is a relationship with the living God, knowing Jesus, being filled and indwelt by the Holy Spirit and not just serving and working for an organization or church. Since Jesus is the One Who saves us, our belonging to a group does not save us. So, in 1989, I was forced into my final elders meeting, where I wrote my dissociation letter. It can be found on-line here: http://witforjesus.org/downloads/english/blogs/gloria-articles/disassociation-letter.pdf
I want you to know that there is nothing more insidious than the ugliness of what the Watchtower does to people regarding disfellowshiping. It is devastating and heart wrenching to have your entire family and everyone you ever knew cut you off and throw you away, especially for many, as this is when you need the love and support of your family the most. The pain and agony can’t even be put into words. It’s as if I was so lost, so alone… I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I felt so empty; it was so painful! But the good news is that Jesus filled me up and healed my broken heart.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9 it is written that, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” I know it is difficult to grasp the reality of Who Jesus is as God, after the Witnesses so carefully twist it all around, but knowing Jesus Christ personally and being filled with the Holy Spirit has been one the most exciting and beautiful experiences I have ever encountered. There have been times when I take my dog for a walk and pray and ask the Lord to fill me with His Holy Spirit. I would then literally feel the Holy Spirit come down on me and go inside me. He was amazing!
In the story of Joseph, his brothers sold him out. God allowed Joseph to suffer in prison for 13 years before he ruled Egypt. I am sure Joseph had much grief and emotional pain inside him, longing for God to heal him of the evil that was done. Yet, Joseph named his firstborn son, Manasseh, which means “God has made me to forget my pain.” As you can see, his healing did not come overnight, but God came through. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:19-21 that Jesus can “… do exceedingly abundantly far beyond what we can hope, dream or imagine, and that Jesus came that we might have life and have it in abundance. ” We just need to believe it, and I can say it is true.
In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus said that everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for “My name’s sake,” shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. After my family cut me off, the Lord opened the doors for me to go back into the florist business and into the movie industry. I learned to give all my heart, my talents, careers and all that I do to Jesus.
Someone at church once asked me, “Have you surrendered your business and talents to Jesus?” At that time, I replied, “No, should I?” After thinking about it, this is what I decided to do. I said,
“Lord I present myself to you as a living holy Sacrifice, like Romans 12:1. I give you all my heart, all my talents, all my careers and make you my business partner.”
When I did that my weddings went from being about $500 to $1000 each to $3000 to $13,000 a job. I would pray over each job and say:
“Lord you know what flowers the bride will like. You make the flowers through me, and He would. He made beautiful weddings through me.”
God had huge surprises for me.The Lord opened the door for me to work on the Television show Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman with Jane Seymour. I was Jane’s personal florist! The Lord gave me such favor on the set. I was adopted as if I were family! I loved the Old West with the settlers and the Indians. It reminded me of the stories my great grandmother would tell of her life during that same time. I became good friends with the Native American Indians and this lead me to get involved in Native American Ministry through my church. I went to many Christian Indian pow wows while I visited reservations.
While on set, I took filmmaking classes. I have always had a passion for horses. So, the cameramen put me on camera to study the angles of the horses. From there, God opened the doors for me to become a professional horse photographer for some of the most beautiful horses in the world. I traveled to England and the Netherlands to photograph horses. The wrangles on the show taught me to drive horse wagons, and I also worked for a carriage company, driving Giant Belgian draft horses for hay and trolley rides and showing them in parades.
I used to take oil painting classes with my father. So, the Lord opened a door for me to work for Thomas Kinkade as one of his master highlighter painters, and I traveled across the United States to visit art galleries and do painting for him. I loved this job because most of the people buying these Giclees were being touched by the Holy Spirit through the picture, and it would lead to incredible conversations with those who were buying the prints as I painted on them. My horse photos have ended up as art to be sold in galleries, and magazine articles have been written about my work. As a horse show photographer, I started bringing in a line of stuffed horse animals and now also have a big horse toy business.
So, there is no end to the surprises the Lord can do when we love Him and put Him first in our lives. Being led by the Holy Spirit, I serve Jesus. It’s not about serving an organization; it is about living our lives for the One who bought us with His blood, the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s being an ambassador for the Almighty; so that people can see Jesus in us by our life styles and how we conduct ourselves. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matt. 7:16) I now have written a Bible booklet on the Deity of Jesus and also on the differences between the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christianity. You can view them on my article corner here: http://4witness.org/testimonies/ex-jehovahs-witnesses/glorias-articles/
I think one of the funniest things God brought me to sell were these cute little horse marionette string puppets with wooden hooves. I had them custom designed and made in all the different horse breeds. In the last 8 years, I have sold 17,000 puppets. They are awesome fun toys for any age.
God has a sense of Humor! When I was a Jehovah’s Witness, I was not allowed to celebrate Christmas. But as a Christian, the Lord opened the door for me to decorate for Christmas all of CBS’ studios for 17 years and Paramount studios for the past 21 years. I decorate 50 foot trees and countless other things.
This is not a testimony about all the great things I have done, but instead, it is a testimony of all of the great things God has done in and through me. If your family has cut you off through shunning, don’t stay stuck in the pity party of all of your losses and pain. Invite Jesus into every hurt you have. Talk to Him, give Him each one and lay it at His feet. Cast your cares on Him as He cares for you!
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord.” Let Him get even for you. Don’t waste any of your life being angry, bitter, resentful and giving into the works of the flesh at Galatians 5:16-21. Give it all up to Jesus. Don’t spend all your time complaining about what the Watchtower did to you or what the elders did or did not do. Instead, stop grumbling and complaining. That’s what the Israelites did and they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Instead, trust God that He has the best in store for you. Jesus said, “I come that you might have life and life abundant,” so embrace that. Believe it! Yes, life is hard sometimes, and there is persecution. This life is full of test and trials. The Bible tells us so, but God promises rewards to those who are faithful.
The Bible says that God’s presence invades the praises of His people. So praise and worship and sing to the Lord. He will move mountains for you. I know that when I was in pain, I did not always feel like praising God, but as an act of faith, I did it anyway. I would cry, invite Him into the pain, and cast my cares on Him. I also like singing Michael W. Smith’s worship songs to the Lord.
The Lord gave me the best dog in the whole world. He was a Newfoundland and Lab mix but was mostly Newfoundland. To me he looked like a giant black bear. We would go camping, and he would catch fish. He was 110 pounds with 6 inch fur. Everyone loved him and prayed he would have a long life. He lived 17 years. So, get a dog and take him on walks and pray to the Lord. It will help with the loneliness.
When Jesus hung on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them for them don’t know what they are doing.” Well, say this about the Watchtower organization, the elders and the people in it. Say, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” By forgiving them, you can be made right with God, as Matt says that unless you forgive those who wrong you, your father in heaven can’t forgive you. God promises not to hear or answer the prayers of those who hold un-forgiveness in their hearts. So, don’t just be a hearer of the Word; Be a doer.
The Bible says laughter is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Learn to laugh and enjoy life. Go do something you love, a hobby or something. Grasp a hold of the joy of the Lord and pray it into your life. The Bible says, “Rejoice always, rejoice, and give thanks in all things.” Find things to thank God for. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Make this a part of your day!
I did not leave because I found out the organization was wrong, I left because I was looking for Jesus. I am passionate about my Lord. He is the lover of my soul; He loves me with an everlasting love. I love Jesus with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength. I delight myself in the Lord. He gives me the desires of my heart. There is nothing like knowing Jesus. He is my everything!
There is nothing that compares to personally knowing the Transforming power, beauty and Love of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the living one and is alive forever more. Hallelujah!