Jay's Story

"I told you he was the inquisitive one", my uncle Jerry said to his wife as we sat down to a study of Jehovah's Witnesses literature. I was 13, and my younger brother was beside me…

This is the beginning of my involvement with Jehovah's Witnesses that would last for 12 years after this, nearly destroying my life as I followed the teachings of the Watchtower to not get higher education, or pursue a career, but to be content with minimum wage jobs as long as we spent most of our time going door to door "spreading" the "good news" (that is the magazines or books). I was a baptized JW "publisher" from ages 15-25. The hypocrisy opened the door to finally leave after the Nov. 1995 Watchtower.

After a Nov. 1995 article where a long time prophetic prophesy was rescinded, thus showing clearly to me that the WT indeed was false prophets and did not have the exclusive channel of communication from God to man (as they claimed), I left and never went back. I am considered "inactive". But what followed was an even more horrific search for truth as I struggled to undo the years of brainwashing and tried to get a career off the ground before it was too late. All this without family support as freedom of thought and conscious is not allowed within the WT Organization - so my family would be of no help, and without money as I was obedient to the WT teaching that poverty was the way of the Christian. By Christ's Grace, I am now a Born Again Christian, who has been brought to Christ and salvation, and I am now a baptized member of the Presbyterian Church of America. I hold to the Reformed faith.

… We were with our Jehovah Witness relatives as a "vacation" (I guess mainly a vacation for our parents). My uncle decided to study with us because I, at 13, had long hair and was beginning to fall in with the wrong crowd. We learned that "Jehovah" was God's name. (Looking back at this, I would say I was under a heavy generational curse. My Mother's Mother was raised a JW and left when she became an adult. My Father's Father was raised a JW and left when he became an adult.)

I went back home thinking about God's name. At first, it was life as usual. I was born to Humanist parents that said they believed in God, but didn't practice religion. I went to normal atheist humanist public education, and watched atheist liberal media like most everyone else. This is why I think so many fall easily into it. So JW's provided instruction in the Bible (with their "unique" interpretation and their own translation) and that was something. JW's give a sense of purpose (going door to door to spread the "good news") and a sense of fellowship (as long as you are in "good standing"). On the other hand, there are serious downsides.

About six months after that "study" with my uncle, something changed in me. I suddenly had a spiritual awareness that I hadn't before. I suppose this would be considered a calling by God. I started reading the only Bible I had (My Dad's King James Bible). I also started searching things out and praying to God a lot. What I read in the Bible was amazing. It is hard to explain. I was reading the Gospels, and Jesus seemed like a real person. I did not doubt for a second that there was a God and that the Bible was his Word. Theologians would call this an "external calling", or something from common Grace.

Unfortunately, my uncle had left some Watchtower literature in the house. I called a Christian friend of mine, Chris, who had invited me to Church and I asked if I could go next Sunday. But before I went, I started reading the Watchtower literature. Church was fine, but I kept wondering when they would say the name "Jehovah". I was too indoctrinated already. I had read most of the You Can Live Forever in a Paradise Earth book, and the Church didn't "measure" up to the expectations I had from reading the Watchtower literature. I started going to the Kingdom Hall, and they were all too happy to study with me of course.

Chris spent a long time trying to get me to see that JW's were a cult. He spent a heroic effort on the Trinity and showing me all the scriptures, but I didn't see it. I had not been renewed; my mind was still dark. Even then, God was trying to help me avoid a disastrous decision to join the JW's. Sadly, I influenced my mother and brother and they followed me in. My mother and I were baptized the same day a year later. My brother became inactive after only a year in - he quickly saw all the hypocrisy.

From the beginning I was very zealous being an example to the congregation. They even discussed me from the podium at a Circuit Assembly because of my zeal. I would spend 60-90 hours a month going door to door in "Field Service", and all of the rest of what it means to be a JW.

In the mid-80's all of the elder kids that I can think of in my congregation were leading double lives. This made it hard for me. All of the elder kids were involved with things such as alcohol, sex, and minor theft. The things that were explicitly taught as wrong, but they did not get Disfellowshipped for this. They just got counseled because they were "repentant". In time, the bad fruit became evident. Alcohol, drugs, sex, pregnancy out of wedlock, and so on. Some of even the elder children were disfellowshipped.

I was really brainwashed during all of this and was in heavy denial. If I were asked if there was a problem in the congregation, I would have denied it. I would never had allowed the JW's to look bad to outsiders by admitting that there was something wrong that lead to bad fruit in the congregation.

At 18, I became closely associated with a JW family. One of the sons was "rebellious" and liked to drink alcohol and get drunk often. I was talented at writing and playing music and hanging out with "worldly" kids to play in a band (only talented enough to keep me occupied enough from the Organization enough to hear God when he would call me a decade later). In time, I had a few drinks too (and would be tipsy on a few occasions, maybe even drunk a couple of times) - but no drugs as the elders later kept asking me about. Around this time, I was no longer the darling of the JW's. I didn't heed their "advice" about music and being with "worldly kids". Fact is, the JW children were not much different form "worldly" people. I repented of drinking alcohol (I was under 21) and started going to meetings and wanted to get "right" with God.

I was taught that we were supposed to go to the elders when we had spiritual problems. So I did. Keep in mind that I had not had a drink of alcohol for months prior to this. There was a meeting with 3 elders. 2 of them didn't like me. They asked a lot of questions and kept asking if I had sex... ("You were in a band right?" "Yes", I said. "Then I find it hard to believe you did not have sex, especially since you were drinking", said one elder.)

I kept waiting for the spiritual advice to get "right" with God. But to my complete shock, at the end, they said that they decided that I was disfellowshipped!

This was devastating of course. If one is not in "good standing" with your congregation - you can't live forever in paradise earth. So disfellowshipment is a judgment by men that you will not have eternal life. This was the beginning of the rift...I didn't believe it was up to men at all. This was really the beginning of the serious rift. It was very hypocritical. Those 3 men voted me disfellowshipped. I went to them for spiritual help confessing my sins. I was repentant, obviously. But, because I hadn't gone to meetings the months before I approached them, they cited that as grounds that I was not really repentant.

It was between God and me; it wasn't up to them to decide if I was really repentant. To make a long story short, I married a "worldly" woman after this and 2 years later "repented" by going to meetings every week for another 6 months. I should point out that even while I was disfellowshipped I very much believed in the Watchtower teachings still, and lived my life in accord with it. I would often be suicidal and depressed during this period. I consider it a miracle I am still alive.

I was on the fast track again - pioneering, lots of responsibilities, Ministerial Servant candidate (I had been in again and very active for a few years).

But this was a turning point: my wife was diagnosed with diabetes. I had no health insurance (JW's were taught that God will provide and not to worry about material needs too much). I spent all my cash on the medicine. We were out of food until Friday when I got paid. I asked my Presiding Overseer if I could borrow $20 until payday to buy food for my wife. He said no! He said that the Watchtower Society (in his words, "the Society") had an article that I was to go to my family or approach other means first, and if that didn't work, then he would see what he could do. Now this was outrageous! My wife was sick, hungry, and he couldn't even let my borrow $20 bucks until my payday (he was the most "well to do" in the congregation). When that PO stood there and told me this, I immediately thought of this verse: "But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" (1 Jo 3:17). I should have quoted the verse to him. But I was too much in shock.

Right then and there, I knew that they DID NOT have love for one another. I have never asked anything from them up until then, I couldn't believe how shallow they were. The other elders were no help either. So cold. This was NOT the love Christ was talking about. I decided that I would no longer ever be poor again. No one was going to help me but myself.

I started going to college and moved to go to a University after I was done with community college. (I should mention that I was looked down on for going to College even though the Society came out with an article saying it was OK) When I went to the Nov. 1995 Watchtower study where the WT rescinded a long time prophecy and promise - I knew that they were not led by God. I never went back again.

Below is some information on the Generation that would not pass away according to the Watchtower Society; another failed prediction:

  1. All the literature before 1995 spoke of the generation that was 10-15 years old or born during 1914 would not pass away before Armageddon.
  2. Wt, 11/1/1995, pg 14,... Jesus was not departing from his established use of the term  “this generation” which he consistently applied to the contemporary masses.....
  3. Wt, 11/1/1995, pg 17 Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers to a contemporary people of a certain historical period.....
  4. Wt, 11/1/1995, pg 19,Therefore, in the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy today, “this generation” apparently refers to the peoples of the earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways.
  1. For more information click here

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:5-8) The current, or ex, JW reading this will observe that the WT teaches only the "144,000" will be born again. But that is not what John 3:5-8 says. Being born again is the only way to enter the Kingdom of God.

About a year after that Watchtower article, I eventually got divorced. In the Spring of 1997, I came into contact with another Christian again named Angelina. Angelina was a Christian trained at a Christian school for 4 years and was trained for missionary work. Angelina helped get my head straight. At this time I got my first computer and learned a lot from ex-JW sites. There would be another two years of spiritual growth and development. It was all very clear when I read the Bible again (I used the New American Standard Bible, and still do).

I had to break out of the prison for my mind made by the false teachings of the Watchtower. I used as my pivot point to break from the chains (holding my mind) the following from the JW publication Proclaimers (19993, p.38).

From the Spring of 1997 until 1999, my life was about getting my head straight on Spiritual issues. It was also about trying to get a career off the ground before it was too late. In 1999 I was 29. I was aware that I would be in grave danger if I didn't have a real career by 30.

I believed in God, and I believed in the Bible. I just prayed that God would reveal to me His truth. That the Holy Spirit would teach me what He wanted me to know. I didn't go to any religious organization during this time. I went to a few Church services in a few different denominations. I knew God was there, and God was with these people (that I had formally been brainwashed against for 10 years), but I suffered (and still do) from what is hard to describe. For a lack of a better term I will call it ex-cult religious post traumatic stress syndrome (EXRPTSS). By this I mean the feeling that I have read expressed by other ex-JW's. I have a very hard time going to any organized religious service because it reminds me too much of being a JW. For this reason I felt a little better when the services were completely different from JW's. Meaning, if it had a big golden cross and the "look" of a Church (stained glass and such), I felt more comfortable. If the pastor wore a suit, it was unbearable.

A friend of the family let me take over payments on a new car; my credit was a mess, and I was poor, so this was a Godsend. However, after I began to claim Christ, my Mother teamed up with this woman and demanded that I give the car back. Just amazing! I came home from work to have on the answering machine something about I better give the car back or I would be reported to the police for stealing it! I will skip the details of this period other than to say that during and after my conversion experience was intense persecution. It was a battle where my own Mother tries to take away my only form of transportation because I claim Christ. My own Mother threatened to tell the police that I was a car thief. I won't ever forget the night I called my Mother. I was witnessing about Christ, my risen Savior, and she asked me very seriously "Are you on drugs"?

Months later I moved with my car some 3000 miles away. While employment was almost impossible, I found a job in a week that paid three times as much as what I had in my old hometown. Later, I landed my career and I am provided for presently, and for the future. I enjoy my career and believe that I am building for Christ's Kingdom, in part, through my vocation.

I should also point out that I came in contact with a Christian that was trained for 4 years to be a missionary, and was quite educated on the best minds of the twentieth century. It has been my honor for God to use the resulting library of Christian works (not the kind you find in Christian bookstores, I mean the real stuff) to answer the outstanding questions, of "What is the purpose of life"? and, the problem of pain ("Why do bad things happen…").

In the Spring of 1999 I was baptized in a local Presbyterian Church of America. This is a Church that teaches and follows Reformed theology. This is the faith championed by men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin. When I first started going, the pastor wore a suit (horrors). Providentially, in a month, he started wearing a traditional black robe. This helps me disassociate it from the KH. I believe Christians exist in all denominations, and I don't exclude anyone as being my brother because of denomination. Freedom of faith and conscience is something that a JW will find bewildering. I am free to have views that are different from everyone else. Meaning, that there is a great deal that is not forced on our consciences.

I think back on the first few months of conversion, and remember how hard it was. Where will I work? Where will I live? What will I eat? These were questions I faced on a day to day basis. It was really very hard. There were a few times when I was sleeping in my car. But always I walked with Christ, and I can honestly say, that He has provided for me. He answered and provided the answers. With Christ, my life as purpose, and meaning. In Christ, I have received substantial healing for the emotional and mental wounds inflicted by the WT.

I grieve for my family still in. Thankfully, my younger sisters that are growing into young adults are going to college to gain a profession. One sister is already certified. I am glad of that, she doesn't seem to be hooked into the religion, and I have been able to influence them on the need for being able to provide for themselves. I think they will be OK. Although I grieve that they never have celebrated holidays or otherwise have a normal childhood, they seem to be doing well, I set an example as best as possible.