I Left Jehovah's Witnesses
After 28 Years My Story
I first met Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) in March
1971, I would be 20 the following month. I had always had an interest in the
Bible, not that my parents had been religious in any sense. But I wanted to know
why this particular book had such an influence on people. But really had no idea
what to do about it and where to learn. My friends and I at the time used to
have long discussions about religion, meaning of life etc. Sometimes when we
where in a local bar, we would have everyone in the room involved. One of these
friends worked with a man who was a JW (actually he was just having a study with
the JW's at the time and was baptized later) and he used to come back and tell
me about it. It sounded interesting and I asked to meet him. The JW arranged for
me to meet another one who was more experienced. The way in which this JW
answered my questions impressed me. The answers were clear, concise and logical.
He used the Bible to answer questions. A regular study was arranged using the
book "The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life" which is no longer used. I also
started to attend the meetings at the local Kingdom Hall. I knew a few of those
who were there as I worked in a local shop and they were customers.
In time I became convinced that this was the "truth" and was baptized on January
6th.1972. I was a fairly shy person and found the door-to-door preaching work
hard going. But as what you were going to say was usually set out for you it
wasn't to bad. Eventually I joined the Theocratic Ministry School in the
congregation where you where taught to speak, give talks etc. If there is
anything that I am grateful for to the JW's is that they did teach me how to get
up in front of an audience and speak. By the time I left I was able to give
talks, handle items on the platform ranging from 5 minutes to 45 minutes, in
front of 100+ people.
One thing I must say at this point is that though this was the early 1970's and
the well-known year of 1975 was coming up. I can honestly say that in the
congregation I was in it was never put over as a big thing, in fact it was
rarely mentioned. Yet from what I have read recently other congregations took to
it in a big way. In fact through the years I noticed how congregations did vary
in some ways from each other.
In 1974 I got married to a JW sister. In the due course of time between 1975 to
1989 we had seven children. Of course our life centered on being JW's, attending
meeting, field ministry, going to conventions etc. I became a Ministerial
Servant in 1988. All in all we had a fairly good life, I didn't have a well paid
job but we managed.
Through the years as a JW I never really questioned any teachings, except for
the way in which Jesus Christ was sort of given a secondary role, when the
Scriptures clearly stated that He was the only means if being saved. Everything
was "Jehovah" centered, we must use the name of Jehovah, Jehovah did this or
that, be part of Jehovah's organization to be saved. Yet when reading the Greek
scriptures, the whole emphasis is on Jesus being the only means of salvation.
Every writer, Paul, James, John, Peter, Jude all spoke about Jesus with no
mention of Jehovah. When asking any Elder about this I would get a vague answer,
"Jehovah's the only one" or "Those scriptures are only for the 144,000". I now
know that according to the Watchtower organization the ordinary JW, (those not
of the 144,000 or one of the 8,000 plus of that group left on Earth.) have no
relationship with Christ, because according to the Watchtower, Christ is only
mediator between Jehovah and the "anointed" 144,000. The only way an ordinary JW
can approach God is through the fact that the Watchtower is the only channel.
But I digress, lets get back to where I am now. In 1989 we moved to a bigger
house. This meant extra expense, 5-bedroom house, 7 children you can imagine.
Also I wanted my children to have what I could give them, I wanted a family life
that a JW should have. Bills kept coming in and I started to use credit cards to
pay them, you can imagine what was going to happen, I took out a loan to try and
pay everything off. I kept all this hidden from my wife, because I knew she
wouldn't approve and also that as a JW you weren't supposed to get yourself into
debt. I suppose also being from a upbringing where the man was considered the
breadwinner, I felt I was letting everyone down. I am not proud of how I got
into that state. If I had turned round and said "we can't afford it" it might
have been different. Its with great sorrow that I feel I betrayed the trust of
my wife and family. As a husband and father I wanted the best for my family and
that sometimes clouds your judgment and I must carry that side of it with me. By
the beginning of 1996 the pressure of all this became too much and by April I
had a breakdown. I won't go in to details over what I did, but basically I
walked out of the house one morning never intending to return, planning to
commit suicide. I ended up in the Lake District.
One night I decided the time had come, so I took about 30 or so paracetmol
tablets, some aspirin and drank a bottle of brandy. This was while sitting on a
hill overlooking a valley, it was beautiful. But I felt I had lost everything,
wife, family and my God. I gradually fell unconscious, only to wake up the next
morning, still on the hill, feeling awful. I went back to the guesthouse, spent
the day in bed, taking even more tablets. I was still here the next day, for
some reason, and so decided to head back home. Eventually I got to a hospital
and told them what I had done. They put me on a drip, next day they said
considering what I had taken there was hardly any trace of anything in my blood.
My wife had been contacted, we had a tearful reunion. Subsequently, I was due to
spend about 4 weeks in a psychiatric hospital. I was diagnosed as having acute
clinical depression and that I had probably had it for about three years or more
and that this was the culmination of it. I was given ECT treatment. One aside
was that whenever any of the medical staff found out I was a JW. They would sort
of say "Well, that explains it", one of the psychiatrists said that depression
was very common amongst JW and I was the fourth one that year.
Now during all this I thought that "Jehovah's loving organization" would help me
recover. Boy! Was I wrong. While in the hospital my wife would visit, as it was
some distance she usually got a lift, most times from an Elder of the
congregation. You would think they would try and give me some encouragement, but
they usually came and said hello then waited outside. I saw other patients
visited by their ministers who spent time talking to them.
When I was allowed home I had visits from those concerned with my "case". They
did not seem to be able to deal with it. The main concern was how soon can we
have a "judicial committee" , they seem to spend more time talking to my wife
than me. Also I got the feeling my wife was more concerned with the shame that
it brought on her and what her standing in the congregation was, from the time I
came home we never slept together again.
At this point I want to say thanks to one JW who helped me. Remember I still had
the debts. He put me in touch with a person who deals with such things to see if
they could come up with a solution, but eventually I had to be declared
bankrupt. That brother paid for that person to help. Even though I had not seen
him for a long time, of them all, he was the only one to give any practical help
and I will always be grateful to him.
I was eventually brought before a "judicial committee" and was "privately
reproved". Their whole answer to my problem was "go on the preaching work,
attend meetings". To anyone who has depression the last thing you want to do is
knock on doors and talk to strangers. This is when I started getting the feeling
that it was not the "loving organization" I thought it was. Over the following
weeks I got the impression that I was "persona non grata".
Then one day my wife told me she wanted me to leave the home, she even found me
a bedsit and paid the deposit. Later on I was told that she had been told to do
this by the Elders as I was considered a "spiritual danger" to the family. I
moved to another town as my wife didn't want me to attend the same congregation.
My new congregation was not interested in me either. In the three years I had
been there I had one visit from an Elder and that was to ask why I wasn't going
on the ministry. One sister there said that in the twenty years she had been
there she has never had an Elder visit her. While attending a circuit assembly
an Elder from another congregation I knew came up to me and said how sorry he
was to hear about what happened, he seemed to know it all, I asked how he knew,
he said "There are some brothers who can't keep their mouth shut" when he was
going he said "They'll get rid of you, they don't know how to deal with you,
you're an embarrassment to them". Up till now I still believed the Watchtower to
be God's organization, but doubts where beginning to appear. Then one day, just
over a year ago in the local library, I came across the book "Awake to the
Watchtower" by Doug Harris and Bill Browning by the Reachout Trust. I picked it
up and thought "another of those books against JW's" and sat down to see what
lies were being said. I sat and practically read the whole book. I saw Scripture
in a new light (to use a JW saying).
I felt something lift from me especially when I read about Christ being the only
way to salvation, it brought back what I had thought years ago. It also brought
attention to the Watchtower not being God's organization and much more.
But I had to have more evidence, the library had recently had a computer section
installed where for a fee you could use them. I decided to look on the Internet
to see if there was anything. Boy! what stuff did I find! Being of a cautious
nature I checked and double checked what I was finding. It was all clear
evidence that for the past 28 years it had all been a lie. The Watchtower
Society started to condemn the Internet, virtually saying it was Satan's tool
and only apostates used it and put lies on it. I got the feeling they were
scared of what it contained because they couldn't control it. I started to amass
a huge amount of information, from how the WT had changed doctrine to false
prophecy. I spoke to various ones over the phone, ex-JW's who had been in it for
20, 30, 40 or more years and then found out the truth. Because of learning all
this I was at a meeting at the Kingdom Hall in August 1999, listening to the
speaker I realized it was the same old thing "do more hours, place more books
this is the only way to get spiritual and be close to God". That was my last
meeting. I have never had a visit from the Elders, not even to see if I was
coming to the Memorial, which is what I had decided was my cut off point, if
they didn't contact me then for such an important event then they didn't care
about me, so I finished with them.
I now realized that I needed to talk to someone about it. So I got in touch with
the Reachout Trust and they put me in contact with one of their representatives
Vince McCann, whom I am grateful to for putting up with me over the last few
months and giving me some spiritual support. A couple of weeks ago he took me to
a Christian meeting, where we watched a film about Christ. It was a simple
meeting nothing special, the person in charge, not a minister or Elder, just an
ordinary man who is a Christian, gave a short talk and asked a prayer. He asked
if anyone wanted to give themselves to Christ to raise their hand. I did!
The above meeting place was a bit far from were I lived so I needed to find
somewhere closer to home. I knew of the Wirral Christian Centre, (Elim
Pentecostal) was not to far away. So started attending there, in March 2000. The
Pastor is Paul Epton, a good straightforward man, with a strong love for God and
Christ. In no way did he or others make any effort to “indoctrinate” me. In fact
the only advice I was given was, go and read the Bible. Gradually in time I came
to realize what the real Bible teachings were, something which I had felt for a
long while as a JW, but had continually pushed to one aside, as being wrong.
I had been going to the WCC for about 8 months when my son Jonathan (25), also a
ex-JW, one Sunday evening said he would come and see what it was like. That
night he committed himself to Christ, and has also been attending regularly
Towards the end of 2000 they announced they would be having a baptism service on
January 7th, 2001 and anyone who wanted to get baptized (by full immersion)
could do so. No going through a hundred plus questions to do so, either. I went
for it because it would be exactly 29 years since I was baptized as a JW on
January 6th, 1972.
Since then I have been attending regularly and trying to get involved as much as
possible in the church.
I have given my testimony as a JW a few times , to various groups and other
churches. Also with it being on various websites, I get the occasional letter
from people who are ex-JW’s, those wanting to know more about the JW’s or know
someone who is a JW and want to help them leave. Occasionally I get abusive
letters from JW’s telling me I’m possessed by demons, under Satan’s control, an
apostate and going to die at Armageddon. Some using words I didn’t think a JW
I am not saying everything is perfect since becoming a Christian, I still have
family and financial problems. But now I see them in a different light. Before I
was trying to live up to what men wanted and what men would think of me. I was
trying to please people who I had been taught were essential for my salvation.
But now I realize that pleasing any man or what you do for any organization does
not count with God. You salvation depends solely on your relationship with
Christ and no one else.