.:RENEE – Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness was not easy for her
Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness was not easy for Renee, as she was hated by her small-town peers and had no friends. Marrying a Jehovah’s Witness man and engaging in full-time door-to-door activity, Renee worked hard for Jehovah God’s approval only to find her dreams dashed to pieces when her Jehovah’s Witness husband left her for a man and the Watchtower responded by disfellowshipping her, along with her ex-husband, on “hearsay” accusations alone! “How could You do this to me?” Renee cried out to God. His answer came in the most unexpected way. She now glorifies God for the marvelous way He freed her in Christ!
My name is Renee, and I grew up in a small town in Idaho, population 600 (maybe). My mom, sister and our neighbor were the only Jehovah’s Witnesses in this town of Horseshoe Bend. My dad was not a Jehovah’s Witness and although we were abused by him, my mother stayed with him because the elders looked down upon divorce as “such uncleanness.”
My mother became a Jehovah’s Witness after she married my dad and, being 45 minutes away from the closest Kingdom Hall, we were always given the territory of Horseshoe Bend for door-to-door ministry. Everybody knew us and always tp’d our house — especially around Halloween. My mother would tell us that the true disciples and “Witnesses of Jehovah” would be persecuted because of their faith. With that idea, I grew up, knowing nothing else.
Going to school was a challenge. Just as I was taught that I would receive “persecution” for my faith, I was hated by my peers and had no friends. My sister would always have her nose in a book, so I was left to fend for myself. Jehovah’s Witnesses discouraged me from playing sports and I again got flak from my classmates. Although I felt alone, I knew that I was doing the right thing.
After I graduated, I married a Jehovah’s Witness, and we lived in the neighboring town of Emmett. We “Regular Pioneered” (full-time door-to-door ministry) together and supported ourselves by doing janitorial work at night. We worked for an elder in the Watchtower organization. After two and a half years of marriage, my Jehovah’s Witness husband left me for another man, and I was devastated! Even though I was a “Regular Pioneer,” I felt empty. My “friends” were still nice to me, but I did feel a change.
I soon became depressed and after my ex-husband got disfellowshipped from the Watchtower. I too was disfellowshipped on hearsay accusations only. I was given no way to plead my case. I felt abandoned by not only my “friends” but now by Jehovah Himself! I kept praying to Him saying, “I did all that you asked. Wasn’t I faithful and true? How could you do this to me?” The more I tried to get back into the organization, something would always pull me back. I assumed that it was Satan himself keeping me from “the Truth.” I then became a promiscuous person so that I could prove to myself that I wasn’t the cause of my husband leaving me the way he did.
Then, my mom decided to disassociate herself from me and my sister followed suit. My dad by then was out of the house (although not scripturally divorced), and in order to get my mom back, he decided to do the same in shunning me. He still is not a Jehovah’s Witness to this day.
In 1996, I met Joe who would become my future husband. (The year 2007 marks 10 married years together!) It wasn’t all that great to start off with. We were just drinking buddies and with many endless nights of arguing. We could not seem to agree on anything. One day we sat down, and he told me that if we weren’t going to agree on something, our marriage would be over. From my learning, I knew that Jehovah hates a divorce, and I wasn’t about to live the way my parents did. So, I agreed to attend church with him.
When I arrived at “church,” I felt like I was in the “house of the devil,” just as the Watchtower had claimed. With beads of perspiration going down my face, I knew that I had no chance of gaining Jehovah God’s favor again. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that every other religion is false and that NO ONE else uses the name of God, I had lost hope of going back to the Watchtower organization. I thought I would die in this church just as the Watchtower had warned because I was in “Babylon the Great” herself!
Fear gripped me hard — until the preacher started talking about all the names of God and what they meant. Not only did my mouth drop down to the floor with a big thump, but my eyes suddenly filled up with tears. Jehovah’s Witnesses had taught me that no one else uses the name of God, but here was this preacher talking about the names of God!
I silently cried in the pews, hoping that I could still be the first to jet out with the speed of light after it was over. After the ending prayer, I in a sense was getting my running shoes ready when the lady in front of me asked if I wanted to go talk. Everything inside me was saying NO!! NO!! RUN!! RUN!!!!, but the words out of my mouth were “Yes!” She led me to a spiral stairway behind the church podium. There she talked to me about Jesus — the REAL Jesus! The One who died for me and not the Watchtower one that was just a man who needed to balance the scales of sin. She talked about the REAL Jesus, who, when He went to the cross, thought of me and said, “Renee, I will die for you so that you may live.”
“Wow!” was all I could say after I got saved that day – January 11, 1998!
As I stood next to Joe and announced that Jesus had saved me and that all I had to do was wait for Him and accept His gift, we cried together. I realized that now it wasn’t me that was waiting for Him. It was Jesus that was waiting for me to take His hand, and that’s ALL I had to do.
I’ve been disfellowshipped from the Watchtower since 1995, and I thank the Lord for what I thought at the time was a tragedy. I now see it as a blessing! I have forgiven my mom, sister and even my dad for making the decision not to talk to me, but I have a new-found faith that if God Himself can change me — the most stubborn of them all — then He can certainly change them, even if it takes a lifetime. I will wait!!
Although my dad’s brothers and my mom’s brother are in regular contact with me, (they are not Jehovah’s Witnesses), the Lord has given me many more spiritual moms, sisters and dads to make up for all that I lost with my family! My husband and I and our two beautiful children now live in Virginia. We are serving the Lord with open minds and loving hearts. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
With much love and prayers your way… Renee