.:LB’S STORY – Sacrificing a college education to serve the Jehovah’s Witness religion, he struggled in life.
The quality of his life was destroyed by the Jehovah’s Witness religion he was born and raised under. As a young man, Jehovah’s Witnesses told him that he would not grow old enough to need higher education to pursue “worldly” careers because Armageddon would come and bring in the new Paradise earth by the year 1975. He regrets that he sacrificed 30 years of his life for the false prophecies of the Watchtower Society. Thankfully, he found the real truth in leaving the false “god” of the Watchtower for the true God.
Because I was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for more than thirty years, I tell you that the quality of my life was destroyed by this sect that claims to be inspired of God. As a child, born and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness in the 1950s, I remember my parents taking me to meetings three to four times a week. During these meetings, we were supposedly instructed about the Bible. However, what we really were taught was what the Jehovah’s Witnesses wanted us to believe—that we were the only “true” religion and anyone not associated with us was of the “world.” We were instructed not to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, or any other holiday. We were taught that the world was going to end “any day” by a battle of God called, “Armageddon”. We were taught that all the other churches of the world were under Satan’s influence and that their followers would soon be destroyed at Armageddon.
Many times as a young child, I had nightmares about this terrible destruction. We were taught that only Jehovah’s Witnesses would survive this battle and that only the absolute best of these Witnesses (those who get the most hours of “service time” preaching to others) will live. We were shown illustrated pictures of people dying horrific deaths in earthquakes and fire that rained down from heaven, killing people just because they were not Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that they are the only ones who will survive Armageddon into a paradise earth and that only a few elite members will be going to heaven (limited to 144,000 people). They emphasize that only those calling themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” will be saved, yet the Bible states just the opposite at Acts 4:12. Speaking of Jesus Christ, it says:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 1.
At no time has any Christian recorded in the Bible ever called himself a “Jehovah’s Witness.” Instead, all were to be “witnesses” of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). This is just one small example of the many doctrines we were taught at the Kingdom Hall meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses that were designed to subtly mislead us into following their distorted doctrines and mind control, instead of the pure, simple teachings of the Bible.
As an example of how this sect ruined the quality of my life, I need to point out that from infancy, we were taught that we would never need to pursue a career or ANY form of higher education 2. because the end of the world was coming. We were told that we would never grow old and die because we hoped we would survive into the new Paradise earth where we would live forever. When I was 11 years of age, I remember my dad telling me that I would never even get old enough to drive a car because Armageddon would come before I turned sixteen. And many times as a young child, I remember feeling embarrassed when I received Christmas and birthday gifts that I was never allowed to reciprocate.
To be faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses, it was emphasized that we should only attend Jehovah’s Witness meetings and go out preaching in the field service (knocking on doors trying to convert people). Any member who pursued any other interest was looked down upon and scorned for “not putting the Kingdom first.” I followed the Watchtower Society’s advice blindly as an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who believed they was inspired by God. During my teen years, we were told that Armageddon was just around the corner and would culminate near the year 1975. (Click HERE for complete photocopied documentation from official Watchtower publications regarding the 1975 false prophecy.)
All Witnesses believe everything the “Watchtower Society” tells them. They are not to ever question anything the “Society” says because they are told that the Society’s information comes directly from God Himself. Therefore, questioning the “Society” is viewed as questioning God, if not worse! Those who criticize the “Society” are called “apostates,” disfellowshipped and shunned by all Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is really bad because often, many if not all, family members are Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you are shunned because you were disfellowshipped or disassociated by formally leaving on your own, not even your own family members can be in close association with you any longer or they too would get the ax so to speak.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are instructed to devote all their time to the preaching activity if they want to survive the destruction of Armageddon. Unfortunately, I too believed this with all my heart and gave up even thinking about having a career in this system of things. As a Jehovah’s Witness, I was required to attend five meetings a week at the local Kingdom Hall in addition to going out in the field service. I even gave up the part-time job I had after school so that I could preach in the evenings. This preaching would not have been such a bad sacrifice for me except for the fact that I later discovered that what I was preaching was not really from God.
When I finished high school, I devoted my time to meetings and field service instead of learning a trade or career that would have helped me make a decent living. I was informed by my High School art teacher that I had enough talent to get an art scholarship. However, I did not even consider this because I was told the end was coming before the year 1975. I too was telling others that the world was soon to end and that only those who became Jehovah’s Witnesses would survive. Oh, how I would later regret this move! Yet, I followed this cult-like sect, believing I was accurately teaching the Word of God by following its doctrines.
Many times the elders proclaimed the time of the end was to in 1975. Some of these elders even predicted certain months that the end would occur. Of course, they ALL deny ever having said this now! Yet, many of the Jehovah’s Witnesses prior to 1975 were so convinced by the Society that the end was coming that they sold their homes, their possessions, and even deeded land and other items to the Society. The Society even began publishing millions of pamphlets that we used as scare tactics by distributing them door-to-door and telling people that they would die a horrible death soon at God’s battle of Armageddon if they didn’t become Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Diligently the Society has since tried very hard to sweep all of this under the carpet as if they had never even mentioned the date 1975. However, since I was an active member of this sect back then, I can testify to the fact that they not only verbally affirmed this date, but much of their literature proclaimed this date for the end. One such book was a book entitled, The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life. We simply called it the “Truth book”. I find it ironic that this book was called the “truth book” when the main theme is nothing more than a fabricated lie. This book stated that Jesus came in 1914 and that the generation of humans living in 1914 would see the end of the world. 3. Well, unfortunately we have seen at least two generations since this time and the Society’s prophecies still have not come true.
Also, now I know that the Bible actually says that when Jesus does come, every eye will see Him (Revelation 1:7)! No one saw him in 1914! Of course a select few of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who were alive in 1914 claimed they saw Him when he came in 1914, but his presence was invisible, of course. How convenient for them! How Jehovah’s Witnesses today are still able to convince new converts of this is beyond belief!
Now at the time of this writing, I am much older and approaching my 60’s, and I find that there is scarcely a day that goes by that I don’t regret not utilizing my God-given talents toward being able to provide better for those I love. I firmly believe that my life and many other Jehovah’s witnesses were affected adversely due to continued articles published in the JW literature condemning higher education and careers. Instead of utilizing my talents and choosing a career that I could live with and be happy with I worked dead end jobs watching others surpass me simply because they had degrees, something I was admonished not to strive for.
My early dreams of life were many, such as being a member of the coast guard, a well-known artist, an oceanographer, or even an airline pilot. Unfortunately, all of these dreams required further education and training for “worldly” careers that I as a Jehovah’s Witness was strongly discouraged from pursuing. This is why I can make the statement that the quality of my life was ruined by this religion. Not only for me but it was ruined for thousands of others who, like me, gave up their dreams, and aspirations in life to follow the advice of a few foolish old men who called themselves the “Governing Body” or “Watchtower Society.” Twisting the Bible’s Scriptures to cleverly conform to their own doctrines.
What has helped me to find the real truth? I would have to say that by research and prayer, I have come to realize that truth is not to be found by man’s doctrines or churches. What I believe is that there is a Creator of all things. I believe the earth is still in the hands of the Evil one as Jesus made plain when he said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). I have read many publications since leaving the Jehovah’s Witness Society. Some of my favorites are self-help books by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Although he is a man of extreme intelligence, he still expresses a strong belief in God as the source of all life. His books are beautifully written and inspiring. I believe that Dr. Dyer has found inner peace that can come only from knowing and believing in God as the source and provider of all things.
Although I have not received a degree in the fine arts, I still paint on occasion and have one that I am particularly fond of entitled, “Not by Chance.” The painting is also listed on a website called (www.fineartamerica.com/spradling). The painting illustrates my belief in a Creator of all things. As with many former Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have my questions concerning why God does not make things clearer, etc. However, I still believe in God. It’s just not the false god of the Watchtower!
As for attending church, I have attended several different churches after leaving the sect of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I have found that they are not all evil and Satanic as the Jehovah’s Witnesses are told. I have recently moved to Florida and have found a great church near home. The pastor teaches and uses the Bible as his true guide and I enjoy the sermons. True many churches have had bad histories, such as the crusades of the past and forcing acceptance of their so-called Christian ethics. However, I know that even if half the world and the churches claim to be Christian, what really makes one a real Christian is not what church they go to but how they live their life, and to love God, and that you love your neighbor as yourself and accept Jesus as your real Savior, as Jesus said this is fulfilling the whole of the commandments (Mark 12:28-31; Romans 10:9).
1. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version.
2. While the Watchtower Society still discourages Jehovah’s Witnesses from pursuing a 4-year college degree, they now allow Jehovah’s Witnesses to supplement their education with home study programs or short 2-year, part-time college courses.
3. See The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, 1968, pp. 94-95