Rhonda's Story

I was a third generation Jehovah's Witness. I loved the organization, believing it was the "one true religion" and  truly loved Jehovah.  However, as time went on it became painfully clear that they were just  men ruling over the people much like the Pharisees of Jesus' day. This "religion" embittered me to what I perceived God to be.

In 1974 my older brother was caught having a relationship with a married older  sister in the congregation (she was 22, he was just  16). The fear of going before the elders in a committee hearing was terrifying to him, and said that he was either going to run away or kill himself. My parents were desperate and called for the elders to come and talk with him. The only thing that they said to him was "We will DEAL with you tomorrow." This was more than Billy could take. It would be more than a mature adult could take!

My parents kept him home from school the next day to watch him. In the morning Billy went out to my father's landscaping supplies and drank one swallow of weed killer. Billy later said that "He didn't really intend to kill himself, he just wanted to get everyone of his back."  That swallow of weed killer didn't kill him immediately, it took three agonizing weeks in intensive care for him to die.

The weed killer gradually ate away his internal organs. The doctors told us that he would need surgery to possibly save him. The surgery might require a blood transfusion. My parents told Billy that it was his decision, that they would stand behind him. He said that he would not take blood, and custody was taken away from my parents.

Upon his death, the elders made an announcement at the next meeting. I was there and heard it firsthand. "Due to the nature of Billy Hike's death, we as a congregation will not be attending his memorial service." Those words will NEVER leave my mind! He was shunned in death, even though he was not disfellowshipped; and in fact had repented of his sin and his attempted suicide.

After this happened, the elders really encouraged me to get baptized (after all Armageddon was going to happen next year, 1975).

Well, of course Armageddon didn't happen. I then began to rebel when I was about 17. I never got over the treatment of my brother and my family by this "loving" organization.

From  that point on, I got into drugs and alcohol, anything that I could use to try to fill up this empty void in my life. I looked into re-incarnation, and almost got into scientology.  The guilt and hopelessness was so overwhelming, I just couldn't  bear it another day! At the age of 23, I had already had enough that this life had to offer and I, like my brother, wanted to end my life.

I had tried to get "back in the Organization" but knew I could never "tow the line". I had asked an elder to  study with me, to help me, but he refused. Only when I was re-instated would they help me. That is like telling a drowning person "Swim to shore and I will rescue you!"

In  January 1984, I heard the message about Jesus and how He came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. ( John 10:10)  He took the penalty for our sin when He died for us.  God is Holy and God is Just, and for us to have a relationship with Him we could not have sinned (past, present or future). But God in His infinite Grace and Mercy, sent  His Son to pay the price that we could never pay. All that we have to do in order to have a relationship with God and our sins forgiven, is to accept  by faith what Jesus did for us, and His righteousness will be given to us. It is a free gift and can not be earned, otherwise it would be wages not a gift. God looks at us now through Jesus, and we now are reconciled to God, justified...just-as-if we never sinned.  (Romans 3:20-28, Ephesians 2:4-8)

I responded to Jesus' invitation "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30, New King James)

God wants our heart, and then everything else follows. That morning I gave my heart Jesus, for the scriptures say to come to Jesus, and He will reveal the Father.  (Matthew 11:27)

From that MOMENT on I was A DIFFERENT PERSON. I thought new thoughts. I had new desires. The interesting thing is... that it wasn't necessarily thoughts and desires that I WANTED to have! Who WANTS to realize that they need to say they are sorry to someone? Who wants to think "I can't lie" ? The things that I did before, I soon was not able to do. And the things that I wasn't able to do (stop drinking for one) I now was able to do.  The DESIRE and NEED that I had  for drugs and alcohol had disappeared.

You see, something truly miraculous happens when someone really asks Jesus into their life. They become a new creation. They now have a new nature along with the old. This new nature is what being "born-again" is all about. Jesus said in John  3:5-8 "You  must be born again...born of the Spirit." Your  spirit which was dead to God (the death that Adam brought into the human race) is now alive to God. God through the Holy Spirit indwells you. You are connected  (plugged in) to God. The scriptures describe this "Your spirit bears witness with His spirit that You are a child of God." (Romans 8:16).

God wants a personal relationship; which can not be found in ANY RELIGION but only through a personal relationship with the LORD JESUS CHRIST!

Jesus said "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If ANYONE hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20 NKJ, emphasis mine)