fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

About Linda

linda

I grew up in a Catholic home. My mother and I attended church regularly but my three brothers and father didn’t care for any sort of piety. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a passion for God. By the time I was 7 years old, I decided to go to English services, rather than Spanish with my mother so that I can understand the sermons better. In the years that followed, I remember visiting the library and taking out books about God and Jesus. My mother would get furious with me because she didn’t trust the source of the books and was afraid I was opening myself up to false religions. Nevertheless, I hid the books where she couldn’t find them and even starting attending other neighborhood churches so that I can examine other faiths. One day she found out I visited a Baptist church (yes, my little brother squeeled) and I was disciplined by her. But even the welts on my rear end didn’t stop me from sneaking back. I loved what I was learning – I never did feel spiritually fed when I attended Mass. Sunday Catholic school was a joke and we basically played for the hour. I had a hunger that most young people my age didn’t have. Finally, in high school, I had the opportunity of taking Hebrew as a second language so that I can learn how to read the OT in its original language – I dreamed of going to Jerusalem one day.

 BECOMING A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS

 In December 1987, I met my now Ex-husband, who was a student of the bible. I didn’t know, though, that he was studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I never heard of Jehovah’s Witness, but when I tried to find information about them or read literature they published, I found nothing (Gee! I wish I had the internet back then!!) When I spoke to the church priest, I received a warning to stay away from them because they were a cult. Needless to say, I didn’t listen. I was intrigued by the effort they were making to study scripture with me. In time, I agreed to study the bible with them and after several months of study and attending their “Christian” meetings, I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) in October 1989.

 Many people have asked me what was it that made me so interested in becoming a JW. Although I had a passion for God’s word, I didn’t have an understanding of what I was reading. For years I searched for a place I can grow in knowledge and the Watchtower organization (WT) preys on individual that do not have accurate bible knowledge. While I was a JW, I felt spiritually nourished – I was being fed what I thought was bible truths several times a week! We attended (what were known as) meetings three times per week to receive bible instruction, to learn how to formally witness at the door and to receive information about what was going on in the organization worldwide. As my faith in the WT grew deeper, my family relationships suffered more and more. As a JW, we were admonished not to associate with unbelievers, including family and friends. In time, my only family and friends consisted of JW’s. In addition to the weekly meetings, we were encouraged (strongly) to spend time with personal study and family study – but were only allowed to use the WT publications. All JW’s are prolications not written by the WT society. Any fellow members that were known to read such material would be reproved by the congregation and sometimes be “disfellowshipped” or expelled for apostacy. After years of associating with only JW’s, one becomes isolated from the rest of society – although they may not realize it. This is one of the tactics the WT organization uses to keep followers from leaving – isolation.

 I remember feeling proud to belong to such an organization. After all, there are JW congregations all over the world and number to over 6 million followers. I had such low self esteem and being in the WT made me feel special; I had gone through a painful divorce in 1994 in which the congregation uplifted me. JW’s are taught that only one religion is chosen by Jehovah God. If you are not one of JW’s you will be annihilated when this system come to an end. What a terrifying thought. And the worst part about it is that they had no scriptural backing. The JW teachings are appealing to those who are hungry for bible truth and not getting it in their churches, emotionally unstable (depressed, low self-esteem, lonely) and those who are self-righteous who feel a sense of worthiness through leadership or condemning others.

 COMING OUT OF DARKNESS

In 2000, I started questioning some of their doctrine and beliefs. I never voiced my concerns because I was afraid of being labeled an apostate and didn’t want to lose my friends and spiritual family. I remained silent, but doubtful. Although I examined everything I was learning with the bible, I still felt their teachings were not right. I knew bible accounts very well. JW’s also use a bible that was translated by the WT society. The names of the translators are not offered and so we never really know who they were and whether they were bible scholars. In this translation, where were too many inconsistencies.

 In October 2003, I was expelled from the congregation. Although the discipline of being expelled was hard to take, I committed myself to working hard to return to the organization. I began to study harder, attend all meetings and kept isolated from everyone so that the overseers can see my repentance. I was working hard so they would allow me back, but I didn’t give much thought to the fact that I was already forgiven by God. I was consumed with wanting to be accepted by the members in the congregation and “the elders” rather than God. In August 2004 and after several attempts to request “reinstatement”, I finally gave up trying and decided not to go back. Looking back I know the Lord’s hand was in all of this.

 After my decision not return to the WT organization, I remained in God’s word (and isolated) for three years. Although I was still using the New World Translation, I began to read it without the aid of JW literature and started to develop a new confidence in the bible. Truly the Holy Spirit was working during those times of being alone. I had no friends, only work associates. In 2007 I was led to seek the guidance of a former employer who knew me when I was an active JW.  She is very knowledgeable in scripture and I always felt drawn to her while I was her employee. It had been over two years that she hadn’t heard from me and I showed up at the door step of her residence needing clarity about what to believe. I felt like a fish out of water and not knowing where to go. Somehow she knew I would one day come of the darkness from being a JW and was thrilled to hear that I decided not to return to the  WT organization. She lovingly spent hours with me talking to about God’s grace. Coming from a work-righteous religion, I didn’t grasp the idea that we cannot earn our salvation. However, in the year that followed, the Holy Spirit was revealing things to me in such a way that I was no longer blinded by the false doctrine I once believed in.

I have two children (ages 19 and 21) from my first marriage. They both have been affected by the indoctrination of the Watchtower and still struggle to this day for self-acceptance and clarity. Today, I am married to a wonderful man, who also was a former JW. His entire family are JWs and its very sad that they do not associate with him. He also has been affected by the WT organization, but has found new life in Christ. My prayer today – and every day – is for my family to continue to accept God’s wonderful gift of Grace; that we continue to grow strong in faith and in the knowledge of God and His Son, Jesus. In the meantime, I live each day with deep gratitude to the God who delivered me and my family from darkness and into the light.

 In Christ alone,

Linda

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