Is So Good
|I was a young boy when my parents and family began studying
with Jehovah's Witnesses. It all started when my cousin's music teacher (who
was a Witness) began studying with him. My cousin was about 13 years old when
he began "studying." Needless to say, it upset my family very much.
But within a matter of months after starting to study with his music teacher,
my cousin had given up birthdays as well as regular association with other
boys of his age.
Eventually, my cousin did learn to play the guitar and he began indoctrinating all of the family with JW doctrine. I had been raised from childhood as a Catholic, so when we started studying JW teachings, I would pray that the Lord would show me if the JW doctrines were wrong, or if they were against the Catholic religion. Because I had no real knowledge of the Bible, the JW religion appeared very good. The dedication of Witnesses was also appealing. It seemed like they were always attending meetings, knocking on doors, and telling people about their beliefs. In fact, during my teen years, the religion actually seemed pretty exciting.
I continued studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses. By the time I was 18, I met a young girl. We fell in love, and were married in the Catholic Church. I remember asking my uncle, who was a Catholic priest at the time, what he thought of Jehovah's Witnesses. He simply said I shouldn't go running after them. That was the only advice I was given about Jehovah's Witnesses, and it really just made the religion seem that much more appealing.
In 1959, my wife and I had our first child, a girl. At that time, we were told by JWs that our little girl would never see kindergarten because of Armageddon, which was supposedly just a few years away. I remember sitting with the music teacher who had taught my cousin, and he assured us that the generation we were living in would not pass before Armageddon occurred. In fact, he insisted that according to calculations made by the Watchtower Society, Armageddon would come no later than 1984. (Here we are 15 years later!)
We continued to have more kids, and by 1961 we had three small children. This was an extremely difficult time for my wife and I because our children were in school. It was difficult because I worked with children at the time, and I was really uncomfortable with the message we-as good JW parents- were supposed to give our own children regarding school. We were supposed to tell our kids that they would be going to school with other kids who saluted a pagan image, that they would be surrounded by pagan people, and that the school they attended was a pagan place. I used to think to myself, "What a way to start life; what a way for a young child to be brought into a society; what a way to take a childhood away from a child." I had a hard time understanding how anyone could make a child become an adult so soon. It really bothered me.
During this time, I began to feel depressed. I was starting to have feelings of gloom and condemnation without any hope. Yet, the Society was teaching us that we should be happy because we had the "truth." However, I was really having a difficult time. I was trying to support my family, make five meetings a week, go out in service, and follow up with back calls. I felt myself slowly slipping into this maze of depression, and I was getting weaker and weaker emotionally.
By the time I was 24 years old, I was eaten up with guilt. I just couldn't keep up with all of the responsibilities being heaped on me by the Society. But there was no way I could take a break on a weekend. I felt I had to go out in field service. Eventually, I found myself unable to even get out of bed. I became fanatical about many of the Society's teachings, and I began to view everything with a cynical attitude, especially the government. Nothing seemed to satisfy me.
I eventually began to see a psychiatrist. I remember something he once said to me. He said, "Every time holidays come around, you seem to feel so horrible, almost to the point of being clinically depressed. Can't you see what's happening to you." I quickly responded, "Don't you talk about Jehovah's Witnesses, it has nothing to do with them. I don't know what it is, but I know it has nothing to do with them!"
I began praying that Jehovah would show me the truth, that he would reveal what was wrong. I couldn't understand why I wasn't happy like the rest of the Jehovah's Witnesses I knew. (I would later realize that the Witnesses around me were not happy.) As I continued to pray that Jehovah would show me the truth, things began to happen. One of the first things I noticed was how the elders appeared to be so self-righteous. Then I looked around. I saw Witnesses brag about the hours they spent in field service, then watched those same Witnesses put others down who weren't able to spend time in service. I also began to notice how Witnesses frequently referred to other Witnesses as "worldly." As I saw this happening, I was devastated. But I remember saying to myself, "Where can I go if this isn't Jehovah's organization?" Still, I couldn't understand how someone could be called worldly just because they smoked cigarettes or dressed differently. I was seeing so many things, and I know now that it was Jesus exposing Jehovah's Witnesses and their teachings.
My wife was slipping into a state of depression. We eventually sold our home and moved into a smaller one. After we had moved, however, I stepped back and asked myself "Why did I do this?" It was at this point that my wife and I began talking about what was happening to us. Was it the Organization, or were we just weird people. My wife finally concluded she couldn't handle it anymore, and that was when I began to read my Bible. The Lord had miraculously put a burning desire in me to read his Word. I stopped attending all meetings and sat down every night (sometimes until 3 or 4 a.m.) to read the Bible. I remember saying to my friends and the elders at the Kingdom Hall, "I will not go to another meeting until I read the New Testament."
I started reading Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. By the time I got to John, however, I was crying my eyes out. I remember reading Jesus' words, "Unless a man is born again he will not see the kingdom." At first, I didn't understand what he meant by this statement, but as I read it, he opened up my eyes. I began to understand what it meant. It meant Jesus is Lord; Jesus is God, and I had to come to him. I remember getting on my knees and praying, "Forgive me Lord, I didn't know who you were." Then I asked Jesus into my heart.
The next morning, it was as if someone had taken a weight off of me. I knew I was never going back to the Kingdom Hall again. Everything around me seemed new-the birds, the color of the trees, everything around me. This was totally new for me since I previously had such a negative, cynical outlook on life. But there I was, looking at everything with a deep gratitude for all that had happened in my life.
Today, 20 years later, I am so grateful for the freedom I have been given from the religious bondage that held me for 20 years. I am so grateful that the Lord gave us the ultimate gift of eternal life. I praise his Name for what He as done. My family and children have now come to know Christ, as well. In fact, we even have a ministry called "Jesus is the Truth" ministries. We have been fortunate to see so many Jehovah's Witnesses come to know Jesus Christ.
Jesus died because he loves us so much, and all we have to do is receive that gift. It breaks my heart to see people who won't accept His free gift of salvation. It's free. If they would just stop trusting in themselves and trust in Him instead.