Sheri & Robert

I am at last free in Christ. True joy as I have never known has been bestowed upon my family and myself by the grace of God. My husband Robert and I were born into the sect of Jehovahs Witnesses. We both believed and preached Watchtower dogma for a combination of seventy years. We never knew of any other teachings outside of the Watchtower because one of their main instructions is to never read any critical literature against JWs or to watch any programs by ex-members as this would be faith debilitating.

Only a person who has been part of a cult can understand the extent of mind control employed on its members. JWs are kept so impossibly busy with five meetings per week, preparing ahead to participate in those meetings, engaging in door-to-door preaching work, (holding a secular job, raising a family, and caring for a household) puts one on a never ceasing works treadmill. The Watchtower teaches that we must work out our own salvation mainly through the door-to-door preaching work. JWs describe living in the flesh forever on paradise earth and recruit new members through Bible study.

When I was a small child, I asked my Witness mother if I could pray to Jesus. I knew he had died for us, and I wanted to thank him. I was told that we are not supposed to talk to Jesus. I wondered why, if we close our prayer in Jesus name, cant he hear our prayers anyway? Well then why cant we just go ahead and speak to him directly? The answer, We just dont do it that way.

For most of my life I have had questions about many Watchtower explanations and mandates regarding every aspect of our lives. One thing every JW knows in his heart, even if they dont openly admit it, is that there is never any real discussion of our beliefs. We can discuss various Watchtower points or comment happily on the newest flashes of light from the Watchtower Societys publications only with total agreement. Any examination must culminate in hearty acknowledgment that our mother organization is the only path between God and man. If there is something we dont understand or agree with, we are told to be modest and not run ahead of the organization and to exercise faith in Gods faithful and discreet slave who is dispensing spiritual food at the proper time. This tactic very effectively leads one to swallow without question all instructions and decisions handed down from the Watchtower.

For a Witness to allow questions or doubts to form in their minds goes directly against the constant admonition to guard against independent thinking. Any Witness who dares to entertain any concept outside of Watchtower teachings (even though they may change in the future) is plunged into pervasive agony. Fear and guilt has been inculcated into every Witness, convincing him that he is not good or faithful enough to be a servant of Jehovahs Organization. A Witness does one of two things:

(1) He obliterates forbidden thoughts through denial of facts and self, while maintaining a robotic loyalty to the Watchtower organization, equating obedience to it with obedience to God. Any residual apprehension regarding misinformation and failed prophecies are overlooked and accepted as the result of mere mistakes made by imperfect but well-meaning men who are still Gods channel.

(2) He becomes spiritually conscious which is the result of the Holy Spirits working in his heart.

This is where I found myself late in 1998. The doctrinal questions that I could never quite rectify (no matter how detailed an explanation of modern-day application came from the Watchtower) became increasingly disturbing to me.

Many of Jehovahs Witnesses are the sincerest people you will find. They are sheep without a shepherd, easily controlled by the one who transforms himself into an angel of light. The Watchtower Society maintains all authority over the individual JWs. This even includes life or death through their ruling of no blood transfusions. In Kingdom Halls full power is given to men serving as elders, who unwaveringly follow the teachings of the WT and submit to their complete control.

I did not understand that my spirit was stirring and being made alive by means of the Holy Spirit. I only knew that I was more agitated with each passing month. I felt desperate in my lack of peace. I was increasingly disturbed by the myriad of rules, sub-rules, and unspoken rules that have always been wielded over the congregation. This is very cleverly designed by the organization to ensure obedience to any audacious proclamation regarding the WT role of mediator between God and men.

I had always feared that I was not good enough and that I hadnt done enough to be approved by God. I always felt depression lurking just under the surface of my every waking moment. Guilt over past sins and fear of an unsure future plagued me. All of my life Ive heard it said that anyone who leaves the organization is an apostate. Witnesses equate this with turning ones back on God. When I was very little, I whispered a prayer to Jehovah and told him that I loved him and would never leave him no matter what. Being in a works-based cult all of my life set me up for automatic failure, which I denigrated myself for. I have sinned large and small in my lifetime and will continue to do so, as such is the inclination of the flesh. Because the flesh is in opposition to God, we cannot please Him. Therefore, it is only by the Grace of God that our spirits are made alive and then we are counted as worthy. No one immersed in the lies of a cult can know this.

Anyone who leaves the teachings of the WT is completely cut off from all current members including immediate family. This shunning ensures what the WT calls the safety of the congregation, but in actuality it keeps the WT lies safely encapsulated while the truth is kept inaccessible to the enslaved followers who put their trust in earthly man. I had repeatedly attempted to discuss these concerns with my husband Robert over the years with no success. Each attempt met with unreasonable opposition. Robert would never talk about anything that was unflattering to the organization. I would tell him that I know what the WT says about a certain point but I wanted to examine it further and I didnt have anyone else to speak to about it for fear of being called apostate. We couldnt talk about it privately, as husband and wife like two intelligent adults.

Robert would tell me to do more personal study and research in the WT publications, as this would build my faith. I explained that I didnt agree with certain issues and decisions from the WT and felt that there had to be some way to cross reference materials outside of the WTs own writings to get a broader spectrum from which to make an informed decision. I reminded him that we would never tell anyone from a different religion to access their own writings in order to find inconsistency or proof of error. I have since learned that the earlier Watchtower publications indeed reveal false prophecies. These publications are never referred to, and any inconsistencies are explained away as having been replaced by flashes of new light. He then tried to dismiss me by saying that he might be able to take me and my concerns more seriously if I were a more spiritual person; meaning of course, if I went out in the door-to-door preaching work more frequently.

I finally told him one day that I was at a critical point in my spirituality. I felt I was a very spiritual person and that I prayed each day for help in figuring out what I needed to know. I told Robert that no matter what it took, I was going to somehow find out whether the WT was really the truth or a lie because both could not be right. I felt like I was losing my mind over this as well as the closeness that I had with Robert. Robert said that he already considered me an apostate for talking the way I was, but he wouldnt turn me in. He said that whatever I had to do, just do it and hurry up because he was sick of this baloney.

So my research began in earnest. I waited until I was alone in the house and accessed the Internet under ex-JWs. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer and my hands were ice cold. I kept praying out loud for Jehovahs help in finding the truth and to forgive me if I was offending him in any way. The very first document I accessed was regarding the Societys agreement with Bulgaria over the blood transfusion issue. My heart froze. I knew at that moment that all my suspicions were well founded. I was experiencing a type of fear that I had never known before. I was accessing forbidden information (although the truth has nothing to hide). I was terrified of displeasing Jehovah by my act of reading these things, and yet I simultaneously knew that what my eyes were seeing was true. It was an almost unbearable feeling to register this shock of recognition that all I had ever known, believed, and trusted my entire life was a staggering deception!!

I know that there are certain ones who upon discovering this, actually slam the door of reality shut and retreat into the dark and warm cocoon of the WTs comfort zone, rather than stepping into the light of truth and Christian freedom by the grace of God. Oh, what death!

Much later I showed that first information about the blood issue to Robert, letting him know that I would not refuse a transfusion if ever one was called for. He promptly informed me that he would divorce me if I ever agreed to a transfusion for our daughter, Victoria. The battle was on. Each day I printed out irrefutable documentation against the WT and each night Robert would rail against the obvious truths.

Watchtower programming runs deep to the core, and one can only by Christs power through the Holy Spirit lift this veil. It was a very bad time for our marriage, and I called continually to God for help. I bought a King James Version and the book Answering JWs Subject by Subject, by David Reed. In the back of the book I found a phone number where JWs could call to talk with complete anonymity the only way I would dare call. This was exactly what I needed. I spoke with Paul whose voice was the lifeline I needed to hear. He very gently showed me from the Scriptures who our Lord and Savior is. I realized for the first time in my life that I had never known who the true God is. Paul let me talk as long as I needed to. I told him about my husband and was given such loving encouragement. Paul said that he would keep my husband and me in his prayers. At some point, Paul revealed his true identity to me (Dave) and now I call him, my first Christian brother. I knew then that I was not alone and that I had never been alone. Praise God.

Dave knew that I needed to fellowship with other Christians. He gave me the phone numbers of Joan Cetnar and Dan Hall. Dan lives very near to us. When I first spoke to Dan, he told me right off that he was so relieved that I was not suicidal, because many JWs who call him have reached that very point. Just as Dave had done, Dan also gave me much fine encouragement from the Scriptures, assuring me that Jesus had called me and that no matter what, He will never forsake me. I thank God each day for his love and for the wonderful ministry that my dear Christian brothers devote themselves to for the praise of our Lord. Dan also prayed for my husbands salvation, as did I daily.

Praise be to God. Robert at last had the veil of darkness lifted from his eyes. He embraced Jesus as his Lord and Savior just two months afterI hadspoken with Dave on the phone who encouraged me to trust Gods Word alone and afterwards I invited Christ into my heart as my personal Savior. I thank our Lord every day for thelove and tender guidance that was shown to me by my new Christian brothers at exactly the moment that I so desperately needed it. Dave, Dan, Joan, and many other dear Christians that I have met since that first shaky anonymous phone call to Paulhave been such tireless Christian Soldiers busy in the work of the Lord. Thank you Jesus. Let praise be to God forever and ever. Amen!

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