.:HAZEL – Growing up in an abusive Jehovah’s Witness home, Hazel found the truth on the Internet
In the midst of an abusive home life, the Jehovah’s Witness message of a promised paradise earth gave Hazel hope that maybe Jehovah really did care about her, but as her activities in the Watchtower increased, so did the abuse at home. Believing she was being persecuted for “righteousness sake,” Hazel turned to Internet chat rooms for support. The Christian friends she met on the Internet challenged her faith and as she began to question what she had been taught, Hazel found her Jehovah’s Witness friends unable to answer her questions from the Bible. This is when God got a hold of her heart and she learned what salvation in the grace of Jesus Christ is all about.
Things all started for me when I when I was about 9 or 10 years old when I went to stay with my aunt. My first conversation with my aunt who is a Jehovah’s Witness got me thinking about God. She had asked, “Hazel, do you believe in God?” I remember specifically saying, “I’m not sure. I guess there could be one.” and that was that.
About 2 or 3 years later when I was 12, I was having a pretty rough time at home because I had grown up, along with one of my brothers in an abusive household. One particular weekend when I visited my aunt, I was feeling pretty down and my aunt started telling me of all the promises that Jehovah has made for the “New World Order” (Watchtower term for the future paradise earth). I heard this and being so young and naïve, I thought “Gee! This sounds good! Maybe God can help my situation.” This is what got me interested in joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I began studying with my aunt, but it wasn’t the ideal situation because she lived in a different part of England than I did, which resulted in me being in a different congregation from her. So, I wrote a letter to the London Bethel (headquarters), requesting to start a “Bible study” with someone in my local area. Within a few weeks, I received a phone call from Jennifer, a “Pioneer” Jehovah’s Witness sister. She verified that I did write the letter and ask for a study. Things went great. I received the magazines and started a study with her and even gave talks in the Theocratic Ministry School (Jehovah’s Witness training program). Later, I became an un-baptised publisher (person who goes door-to-door).
While I was studying, things took a turn for the worse in my home situation. There would be times where I would be locked in my room just so I could not make it to the Kingdom Hall. I was even physically abused just because I was studying the Bible. I kept wondering why my mother was treating me like this. Didn’t she want a good daughter who good morals? One thing that I didn’t see then was that my mother could see right through the faulty teachings of the Watchtower organisation. She calls herself pagan and I thought, “Don’t worry Hazel, Jesus said, ‘If they hated me, they will likewise persecute you.’ ” I thought I was being persecuted for righteousness sake.
Around this time, I got on the Internet and did what most teenagers do in joining a chat room. It was a Christian chat room, and I met lots of great people there and learned of how they loved Jesus and the ways that they expressed their love for Him. I shared with them about my position within the Jehovah’s Witness organization. They would tell me things and try to get me to see the light, but of course, I would always defend the organisation. Little did I know that all these people planted the first seeds to helping me get to know Jesus Christ as I know Him now. At that time, I knew in my heart that something was missing, and now I know it was Him!
After a while of being on this Christian website, I met a good honest Christian guy (Zebra) who was genuinely concerned for me and my salvation. I fought with him over Scripture and things such as the Trinity etc. I used to laugh at him. Looking back, I think of what a fool I had made of myself for defending the organisation.
But I wanted Jesus though!!! Ah, what was I to do? I knew Jehovah’s Witnesses would disapprove of me listening to Zebra and that I would be reproved if they found out, but there was something in him that I just couldn’t say goodbye too. I now know that it was our Heavenly Father drawing me (John 6:44).
While talking to Zebra, he sent me audio testimonies that he had found on the Internet of people who had come out of the Watchtower and what their experiences were. They explained what the false the teachings of the Watchtower Society really were. I was heartbroken, and I felt guilty at the same time. I was heartbroken because I was so confused about who God was, but I felt guilty because the Watchtower taught me that I was meddling with “Babylon the Great” by listening to these so-called “apostate” people. I didn’t know what to do!
I knew at this point that I really needed to search and dig for the truth as the Bible commands us. I did this as I prayed. I also searched for truth by asking the Jehovah’s Witnesses various questions. Little did I know that at this time, the Witnesses would shy away from answering these kinds of questions. They made me feel guilty in my search for Jesus and they condemned me for questioning the things they had taught me. They said to me, “You have truth in the Organisation.” When I argued and said, “I don’t want ‘truth’ in the organisation of Jehovah. I want the truth Jesus has to offer,” they considered me spiritually “weak.”
But I kept on with my questions. The more I did this, the more uncomfortable they grew with me because I would always ask them to show me the answer from their Bible and not the Watchtower publications. They did not like this one bit. All the elders in the congregation were watching me and giving me a hard time about my questions. When one would be giving a talk in the congregation, it felt like they would specifically direct it at me by the way the brother would look at me and say it. Some would even say to me, “Hazel, you have been studying for four years now. Why are you questioning now?” I just disregarded this question as not being of God because God doesn’t say when you can or cannot test what is true (1 Thess 5:21).
As time went by, my enthusiasm for the Organisation and my desire to be a Jehovah’s Witness grew less and less. I virtually stopped going to all the meetings. I would use any excuse I could find not to go and when there weren’t any excuses I could come up with, I went. The Watchtower began to feel like it did to me in the beginning. The “brothers” and “sisters” in the congregation were cold and did not show the unconditional love that Jesus wants true Christians to show, just as He did. But yet, they used the Bible, so I reasoned that the Organization must be right. Then, my mind would bring me back to the foundation of the Watchtower Society.
Surprisingly, during my time of questioning, I carried on with my study with Jennifer the pioneer. She knew something was up with me. I often asked her challenging questions to which her reply would be something along the lines of, “Oh, you can go and look it up on your Watchtower Cd-Rom at home.” I would respond, “No, Jennifer. I want you to show me yourself from the Bible, not the Watchtower.” When she wouldn’t do this, then I knew something must have been seriously wrong and that there must be something they didn’t want me to know or search about.
By this time, I just about had enough of everything going on around me. To be honest, the only thing that kept me going was the audio testimonies on the Internet. I wasn’t praying because I was so mixed up about who to pray to: Jesus or Jehovah? I didn’t know. About the only thing I was doing was reading the Bible online because the only Bible I had ever picked up and knew was the Watchtower Bible, The New World Translation. This is when God opened my eyes to the truth of God and not the so-called “truth” of the Watchtower. John 6:44, 45 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. ‘It is written in the prophets, “And they shall be taught by God.” Therefore everyone who heard and learned from the father comes to me!’ ” How clear could that be?!
The months went by, I continued to go to the Kingdom Hall. In June of 2005, I met a Christian friend in the Internet chat room. Her sister was a Jehovah’s Witness. I was invited to this Christian sister’s home. I even went to church with her–despite what I was told about how “bad” and “evil” the churches are. At church, my heart was racing. I didn’t know what was going to happen, if anything. Time went by. The pastor was speaking and WOW! I felt a sense of peace fall in my heart. Everyone was free in the Lord. It was amazing to see!
When the time came for me to leave Scotland for my home in England, I was sad. I knew I was going back to the situation at home with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. BUT I wasn’t as sad as I could have been because I had learned from the pastor at church to trust in God to make situations right and well. I can say the Lord was faithful to that promise.
When I went home, I didn’t go to any of the Watchtower meetings at first, but then I was taken out of my home by Social Services because of the abuse I was experiencing. At that time, I went back to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t know why, except it must have been out of selfish reasons, I guess. Things did not improve when I did this. In fact, they grew worse and I could see clearly what the Organisation was all about. In the Fall of 2006 when my Grandpa died, I fully stopped having anything to do with the Watchtower Organisation.
I prayed to God, and He was faithful. He never did leave me as I had thought previously. It was me who had left Him. I thank God with all my heart that He kept His wonderful promise to never leave nor forsake me, even when I left Him (Hebrew 13:5). I can safely say that I am truly saved by the Grace of Jesus Christ and not by striving to remain loyal to a man-made Organisation as I had originally thought. My Glory is in the Lord and for His will to be done on earth. We don’t need to wait until we get to heaven to see this as we can see it here! He is preparing a mighty army for His will to be done. He is preparing us through his Word, and our equipment is in His Word and we are to put our Trust in Him alone!