ESTIMONY OF “ANNE” former Jehovah’s Witness
I became involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1981, and spent the next 18 months having weekly Bible studies and attending their Sunday meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I had actually been brought up a Catholic in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. In those days we were taught the catechism which is basic Catholic doctrine. I had always known about Adam & Eve and Jesus and the Ten Commandments, but I never stopped to think that these, or the epistles or the gospel which was read at mass were from the Bible, so my knowledge was extremely limited. When I was old enough to spread my wings I drifted away from church and only went to mass and confessions at Christmas and Easter. It was when I was married and my oldest child was turning five that I thought it was time I took the responsibility to give him and his sister a grounding in the faith so they could at least make some choices later on. I started going back to mass and I was made to feel so welcome by the padre and the local parishioners in the army camp where we were living at the time. I became involved in Christian doctrine classes for school-age kids, and I got roped in as a helper. I was in for quite a shock. Things had changed so much, the old grey catechism book had been replaced by the Bible. I remember meeting with another mother one afternoon to help prepare a lesson, and being asked to look up one of the Psalms. I was mortified – I didn’t even know where to start. It was quite a relief when we were notified of a posting back to Upper Hutt, not much later.
Once again I was roped into doing CCD, much against my will I might add. So I decided it was time I became familiar with this Bible business. I started reading Bible stories to my kids each bedtime, and of course we started right back in Genesis, and that was fine. However the further I went the more disturbed I became with some of the stories. The very last straw was when I read to the kids about Deborah and Barak, how she had killed Sicera as he slept by impaling him to his pillow with a stake, I couldn’t believe it. A matter of days later two Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived at my door, and wanted to show me something from the Bible. My immediate reaction was I don’t want to know – the stories are disgusting. Of course that led to a discussion, and because I was really interested in Christian things it led to more and more questions. They seemed to be able to provide me with plausible answers.
Around this time the Springbok tour was on. I didn’t think I would ever see riots like that in New Zealand. Our neighbour was a policeman, and a Maori. He and his family were receiving threatening phone calls. I was appalled at what was happening. It was happening all over the globe and here it was at my own back door. Again the Witnesses were able to tell me it was because we were in the end times. They were showing me verses of scripture to back up what they were saying. As I said originally it led to eighteen months of study and going to meetings. I had cut ties with the Catholic church, and that was no easy decision. I was actually at the point when I was seriously considering baptism as a Jehovah’s Witness.
The reason I came out was by this stage my husband was very unhappy with my involvement. I had lots of head knowledge, but I was really screwed up inside, and very unhappy. The more anti (my husband) became, the more stubborn I was. I had been warned I would be persecuted for the sake of the Kingdom, and even though I was terribly miserable I couldn’t let it go because I knew there was more to this Christianity thing than I had experienced before.
To cut a long story short I virtually backed him into a corner. He felt he could do nothing else but leave. Prior to this we had had a good marriage so I was feeling absolutely desperate. I tried to make contact with the priest who had been in Waiouru – no luck. At that time I discovered 1 Corinthians 10:13 in my New World Translation. And I kept going back to it because it said “No temptation or trial comes upon us that is not common to man. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can endure, and He will give you a way out.” I just held onto that verse, and cried out to Jehovah for help.
The help came in the form of a phone call from an old friend who had become a born-again Christian. She wanted to visit. I was immediately on the defensive as I assumed someone had been gossiping. Jo and another friend Carol used to really bug me. They were both very vocal Christians, and what’s more they were so much more enthusiastic and excited about their faith than I was. I used to deliberately keep out of their way. Anyway Jo arrived, and was no sooner in the door and the phone went. It was one of my husband’s army mates. He was ringing to see if he could do anything to help. My husband at that stage had approached his boss about moving back into the barracks. Jo is a very direct, forthright person. I had no sooner hung up and she asked straight out if our marriage was on the rocks. Well, floodgates opened and she copped the whole lot. She spent that whole day (and it was a whole day) bombarding me with scripture counteracting anything I threw at her, which was really amazing as she was only a very new Christian herself. By the time she had left I had committed my life to Jesus, and decided to return all my books to my J .W. friends and to break off further studies.
That was extremely difficult, as they had been wonderful friends. They had been particularly supportive during a four month period when my husband had been overseas, and also when our son had been very ill. I knew my decision was going to upset them, and I knew I was going to lose their friendship as well. It was however a time of reconciliation for my husband and I, and we’ve not long celebrated our 21st Anniversary.
That wasn’t the end of it though. It took months and months and months to overcome the indoctrination I had had. I committed my life four times to the Lord before I was truly convinced I was a Christian. I had lost credibility with myself, let alone anybody else. Even though I had accepted Jesus into my life, I kept it pretty much to myself for a very long time. That was difficult as I knew I should be witnessing to my faith, if I really meant business. I look back now and I am so grateful to God for His love, His tenderness, His patience and His guidance.
I encourage you to pray for the Witnesses who come to your door. Many of them like me have come out of a mainstream church. They usually have an incredible zeal for God. They know the importance of evangelism, especially friendship evangelism. If you can send them away with a doubt, with something to think about, just as Jo and Carol did by their attitude, is much more value than getting into a full-blown debate. The agro (antagonism) they often receive at the door only serves to reinforce in their minds that they are being persecuted for the sake of the Kingdom. The difference is they are trying to earn their way to God’s Kingdom. But we have the liberty, we have the freedom, we have to assurance of our place in God’s Kingdom. We have discovered that when we put Jesus in his rightful place, that is God’s free gift to us. Please pray for them!”