.:THE TESTIMONY OF ANGIE – “The Word Was God.” – A Story of His Grace
Growing up in a dysfunctional single-parent home, Angie longed for stability in her life. At first, she thought she found this in the belief system and home of her Jehovah’s Witness aunt, but when Angie found Scriptures that contradicted the beliefs she was taught as a Jehovah’s Witnesses, she was kicked out of her aunt’s home on a below-zero January night without a single belonging, because she believed the Bible over the Watchtower. What was Angie to do now?
I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. My mother was a teenage runaway that used prostitution to live and support her addictions. My father is not known. Almost immediately after birth, the state placed me with my maternal grandmother. As I grew older, I realized the things I had heard about my mother had started close to home. My grandmother and other family members also had drug and alcohol addictions. I desperately craved normalcy. I hadn’t been brought up in church, but we always had a Bible around the house, so I tried to “be good” by reading it.
Since my grandmother raised my siblings and me, I was very close to my aunt who was more like a big sister to me. My aunt had four children and I babysat for her every weekend and anytime I wasn’t in school. She joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1993 and I went with her in 1994. So, I threw myself into this religion because I wanted to know God, and the people made me feel welcomed and loved.
As much as I could, I studied with my teachers, went to the Book Studies, Kingdom Hall meetings twice a week, and the annual Convention. I worked hard toward getting baptized, as I was relieved to be doing something I felt would make God happy with me. It never occurred to me that I should research beforehand what I was getting into, nor did I have any idea that there are important differences in religions, until I was taught by the Jehovah’s Witnesses that “Christendom” was evil. By then, I was already involved and loved the people, so I trusted their judgment.
After a while, I moved in full-time with my aunt’s family. I was there so much it didn’t make sense to keep going home. The move required that I change schools and there, on my first day of school, I met the man who I would eventually marry and made some other wonderful friends right away.
I had learned so much as a Jehovah’s Witness that I felt confident trying to teach them about Jehovah so I gave it a try, but very quickly, I was in over my head. While I had read most of the current Jehovah’s Witness books cover-to-cover, my new friends were sharing Bible verses I had never heard of before. I decided then that I had to do some serious Bible reading to catch up with my knowledge of the Watchtower. My goal was to find the contexts of what my friends were quoting, so I could show them how they were wrong. When I started out, I thoroughly believed that’s what I would find, but what I ended up finding instead were more and more passages that didn’t make sense with the doctrines I had been taught as a Jehovah’s Witness.
I read the entire New Testament and a good hunk of the Old by the time I came to the conclusion that, if I saw a discrepancy between Watchtower books and the Bible, I had to choose the Bible. At that point, I saw how my attempts to be good enough for Jehovah were empty without a relationship with Him. I learned that Jesus had done the ultimate work, but as a Jehovah’s Witness, I hadn’t even bothered to accept it for myself. So, when I came to this realization, I prayed right then to accept Christ’s gift and follow Jehovah and his Word — even if that meant going away from the people and organization that I had come to care for so much. But at the time, I didn’t really think it would mean that. I assumed that the others would be just as shocked as I was, and there would be a way to work all these discrepancies out if we all just sat down and trusted the Bible.
So, with what I had found, I went to my aunt, study teacher and other adult Jehovah’s Witnesses who would listen to me. At first, I was encouraged and praised for wanting to know more, but those commendations quickly ended after just one study session, when I pressed my concern that the Bible called Jesus “a god” and showed that Jesus was worshiped while there is only one True God. At that point, the studies shut down and I’m not sure entirely what went on behind the scenes.
A short time later, my aunt came to me and told me the elders had told her that I had to attend Kingdom Hall and say I was a Jehovah’s Witness until I was 18. I told her that I would go to Kingdom Hall if she wanted me to, but if they ask any questions of me, I would reply with what I felt the Bible said, and that I could not in good conscience call myself a Jehovah’s Witness when I disagreed with some core things of the Watchtower. She said that wasn’t good enough, and they felt I was a spiritual danger to the younger children if I remained her home, so they told me to leave immediately.
So, on a below-zero January night in 1995, I was put out on the streets of North Minneapolis without a single belonging, because I believed the Bible when it said:
“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
I ended up staying with a friend’s family, and then rented a room with public assistance funding while I finished high school. It was hard, but through it I grew. God upheld me and was so real in my life that I knew my decision was the right one. I knew that I couldn’t go wrong following Scripture alone, and I sought to find a church that believed what I found to be true in my personal studies. After high school, I married one of those friends that had shared the Bible with me, and we are blessed with beautiful children, a wonderful church family, and a ministry to encourage people examine the Bible for themselves rather than accept a human teacher’s word for it.