And The Word Was God
By, Angie Gallagher
I was born into a 'dysfunctional'
family, to say the least. My natural mother was and still is a drug addict,
alcoholic and prostitute- my father is unknown. I was raised until the age
of 15 by my grandmother and an uncle who also had drug and depression
issues. I was not raised in any particular religion--They said we were
Methodist but our family never once stepped into a church. I was loved, but
life was hard. I was depressed, lonely, and afraid of life.
I found every opportunity while growing up to escape the atmosphere of my
home--if even only for a weekend. I babysat for my aunt to whom I was very
close. She is only 13 years older than me and was always more like my big
sister than just distant family. She had 4 children whom I adore[d]. Every
minute I was not in school, I was with them. A side issue also was that I
made a lot of money babysitting for them and my grandmother and uncle would
steal it for drugs. I was angry and we fought a lot. Not exactly normal
teenage rebellion, I just wanted to be normal. I love my grandma very much
but I could not handle being the grownup in the relationship. She eventually
told me I could go live with my aunt if I wanted and it was music to my
This aunt was called upon in about 1993 by the Jehovah's Witnesses. She was,
at the time, with and abusive man- father to her youngest 2 children. She
needed friends, she needed love and help and she had an emptiness that they
fulfilled partially. She desired to be religious thinking it would solve her
problems so she latched onto the first thing that came along and never cared
to check it out. She had her fun on weekends but was very 'devout' to the
Watchtower. She invited me over and over to the Kingdom Hall but I didn't
have much interest in something I had never heard of.
I have always believed God existed but I didn't have a clue who he was or
anything about the Bible. Jesus Christ was nothing more than a swear word to
me. I longed to know God better & wanted to be loved and to be "good".
Eventually, I figured her 'church' was as good as any to start this and I
went along with it. They were so friendly and welcoming. I liked someone
taking an interest in me and teaching me. Someone to answer my questions. It
made sense and showed a way to do good for God. I thought it was just what I
was looking for. Something didn't feel quite right but I ignored it because
"this was how I was going to be happy". I threw myself into studying and
teaching others and preaching to everyone I knew. This lasted about a year
total until God interrupted me.
I had to switch High schools when I moved in with my aunt and so of course,
I had to make all new friends. By God's provision most of them turned out
to be strong Christians. Goody, I thought
I can preach to them since they already care about the Bible. My new friends
asked me to explain my beliefs to them and I did -- but every time we opened
the Bible they were very plainly right. Also at the time there were several
stances I began to wonder about within the WT including works vs. grace,
charity work, & social rules etc...
I also took notice of my new
friends and what they were like-- not just the information we discussed.
They didn't judge me like I had been taught Christendom would and they were
very loving to me. They were not stupid, they knew the Bible very well and
knew why they believed what they did. I observed them pray at lunchtime in
the middle of a busy high school cafeteria and saw how God was really
in their lives. I realized I wanted that kind of relationship with God- not
a religion. The Kingdom Hall prayers, songs and rules flashed through my
mind and it was all so stiff and sounded like they weren't really expecting
anything from God. Not answers to prayers, not love, not answers, not
provisions. I realized the JWs that I had dedicated myself to didn't sound
at all as I imagined the Biblical people to feel about God and here these
Christian kids were praying like they KNEW God. I realized what I had done
was follow a group because I wanted answers and love but didn't follow the
God who loved me.
All this made me feel as if I was
failing Jehovah. That I was somehow not good enough and should be ashamed.
But I also have a very stubborn streak and was very stuck on not being
wrong-lol. So at my friends gentle suggestion, I read the Bible for myself,
setting out to prove my friends wrong and me RIGHT by
default, purely selfish reasoning at first! So I lay aside all commentary,
WT or Christian and just read. To study I compared the Bible with....are you
ready for this....THE BIBLE! Novel concept for me. I was used to running to
a book for explanations. I even eventually prayed for help too. God revealed
his word to me like I had never seen it before. Things I had read before
suddenly made sense and there was Jesus~ waiting to save me. I accepted
Jesus and was "born again" in Dec. of 1995. This is the fancy way of saying
that I saw the truth and put my faith in Jesus right then, and committed to
follow him wherever that led.
The first thing I did was write
up ALL my research so far, some 20 pages handwritten [not bad for a 15 year
old!], of scriptures and brought them to my "Study teacher". I thought
EVERYONE would be as shocked and concerned as I was over everything I had
discovered. I was young and naÔve. At first I was applauded for being so
enthusiastic and wanting to make my faith "my own". That lasted until the
second meeting. My "teacher" took all my research and researched it.
At the following study She brought forth lots of information and photocopies
[which I now know is all from WT materials] and presented "The Answers".
Yeah. They were not impressive. Much to me seemed to be a form letter
approach to an opinion on a topic rather than answering the direct scripture
references. When I pointed out that she hadn't really addressed what I had
asked.......did I miss it? She got very angry with me and declared they
always knew I wasn't interested in the truth. And then accused "WHO have you
been talking to?" As if no rational person could possibly come up with the
information I had. Discussion was over apparently.
I also tried to talk with my aunt
and gave her the information as well. She took it suspiciously and did not
research it at all. After reading some of it she declared I was questioning
too much and if I had to know the answers I could ask my teacher. I
told her that I was, but also wanted her to talk with me too.
She tried....barely. We'd get about 1 thought into the discussion and she
would declare she didn't know but was sure someone in the Organization did,
and that was good enough for her. They were smarted than her and she trusted
them. She told me to stop asking.
The elders in the congregation didn't know what to do with me, not only was
I questioning them and they had no answers but I had actually become a true
Christian. They advised my aunt since I was technically not her child that
I be given an ultimatum. I was either to lie (their word- not mine!) and
pretend I was a JW until I was 18 and then I could make up my own mind or I
had to leave her home so as not to influence her children. They thought they
had leverage on me because they knew how much I wanted away from my home
life at my grandmas and they knew I would not go back there. They thought
threatening me would make me do what they said. Incidentally this is illegal
counsel to give because in our state it is a crime to kick out a child under
the age of 16-- I was 15.
I told them I would follow house rules and not be "wild" or "disrespectful"
but I would not lie about who God is or who I am, a Christian, not a Jw. If
forced, I would go to meetings but I would feel obligated to answer with the
Bible only and not the WT. Well- that took care of that! My aunt told me to
leave. Now. She would tell me where to pick up my things later but get out.
The Elders told everyone I chose to leave- I ran away. The story was
circulated I shacked up with my worldly boyfriend. But no, neither was
true, I was put out on the streets by them in -10 below winter weather in a
bad neighborhood of an inner city with nowhere to go because I believed the
Bible when it said, "The Word was God" [John 1:1]. No one was allowed to
talk to me including my family but the rest of the members figured I was
little threat being a kid and most soon forgot about me.
Walking to a friends house that January night I was strangely happy and at
peace. I knew I had chosen God and he loved me. If I had known all that
would happen, I don't know if I could have been strong enough at that age to
chose the right thing, but the Lord was my guide and he worked a miracle. I
had nowhere to go but He took care of me from then on in- provided
Government money so I could rent a room through out High school and finished
on time with honors in and internationally based program. He gave me a
wonderful Christian man to marry- who was incidentally one of those first
Christians to share Christ with me. He has blessed us with 2 wonderful sons.
After a lot of research into both God's existence, world religions, cults
and the Bible we also have a ministry now to cults up here in MN in which we
have spoken with hundreds of people and we correspond with hundreds more
people over the internet. We also work on resources to teach others-
especially Christian churches- about cults: Why they are incorrect and how
to help them.
I lost a big part of my family that night but gained peace and love and a
whole new family in Jesus. I miss them terribly every day and pray Jesus
will reach them where I cannot go. A huge praise note is that My aunts
children-- whom she was trying to "protect" from me by following the elders
counsel to kick me out-- are becoming of age now and are leaving the WT
themselves because of what they saw done to me and what had been done to
them. I continue to pray with all my heart that this is the first step to
getting their freedom and true happiness in Jesus. There is hope and life
outside the WT and God is waiting with open arms to heal and love us.
<>< Angie Gallagher
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