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9 Δεκ 2017

Ex - Jehovah's Witnesses, who are now members of the Catholic Church, share their personal stories

Translated from original by Alexia Kriniti

For the readers to better understand the following testimonies of former Jehovah's Witnesses, first it is necessary to realise that the members of this sect live an essentially different life from the rest of us and not in a positive way, as Jehovah's Witnesses like to believe. The lives of Jehovah's Witnesses, religious and spiritual, professional, personal and social, are completely identified with their heretical religion...

They work only with their fellow believers and they rent houses also only from their fellow believers. They support each other in their professional activity; for example, if a "brother" has a bakery, other Jehovah's Witnesses are buying their bread from him. Above all, they spend too many hours together: they are obliged to attend weekly meetings, which add up to a total of nearly 7 hours! In pairs or more, depending on the case, they do the weekly public preaching or the door-to-door ministry.
They also attend the "Family Worship Night", which more than often it is not limited to the nuclear family, but relatives and newcomers to the Organisation are invited to participate. Often, they gather at homes to read the Watchtower articles, which they will study the next day in their congregation. Furthermore, Jehovah's Witnesses are forced by the Organisation to invite their fellow believers at their homes for social gatherings, as evidence of the Christian love they are supposed to have among them; they invite occasionally "elders", "traveling overseers," "circuit overseers." The fact that Jehovah's Witnesses are just a minority (there are local "churches" consisting of 5-10 people) and the Watchtower strictly prohibits them to have any contact with non-Jehovah's Witnesses, makes this lifestyle even more authoritarian. We can easily understand that if someone wants to leave this sect, he will lose his whole life because of the anti-constitutional disfellowshipping!
Second important information readers should keep in mind is how the Watchtower presents Jesus Christ to its followers; I personally think it is one of the most blasphemous teachings developed by a heresy: The Lord of Peace is presented in the Watchtower editions as anexecutioner of all mankind. It Is the time when Christ will return to kill everyone who does not follow the Watchtower, that is the vast majority of humanity. Especially the children of Jehovah's Witnesses suffer from this blasphemy, since they feel horror for Christ. And when their parents, with the help of God, return to the Holy Church, children need special support, beyond the limits of theology, to not feel fear for our Lord and to stop seeing Him as their future murderer! We have to realise that when someone leaves a sect, he does not automatically forget what he has learned within it, especially the children!
The following testimonials are from former Jehovah's Witnesses who have returned to the Holy Catholic Church. Although our brothers are French, their anonymity is necessary (the names are nicknames), as many of them either have not officially left the Watchtower yet or they have family members who remain Jehovah's Witnesses. I hope also to have shown with the introduction that walking away from the Watchtower is a particularly sensitive issue with multiple effects. However, they were very pleased for the opportunity given to them to talk about these difficulties to their Christian brothers and thus to warn potential victims to stay away from the sect and encourage those who are on the difficult path of disassociation. If a reader leaves a message for those people in the comments, be sure that I will transfer it to them. The original stories were in French and they have been translated into Greek and now into English. Also, I have added some footnotes to better understand what is said.
Georges, 53 years old
"It was in 1982, when, because of my work, I had to leave Paris and settle down for almost a year in southern France. They were building a hotel, it did not survive though, and I had managed to get a job in the construction site, with the help of a "brother" (he says some what ironically). My wife was not in the truth, I joined the Watchtower after our wedding and other Jehovah's Witnesses did everything they could to demonstrate to her their love for me. Anyway, let’s spare people the details, the fact is that I desperately needed a job, even if it meant that I would be away from my wife and my daughter, who was then a few months old. To cut down on living expenses, I lived in a nearby village. There was not a Kingdom Hall in the nearby area and I remember I was calling them to listen to the weekly meetings. Needless to say, the "elders" bombed me with warnings for the Satan's world and how I should keep my eyes wide open, especially now that I will be "without loving brothers" and that I should "walk with the Organisation until the end." The scandal of the 1975 "prophecy" [1] was still not forgotten, although I was from 1979 onwards Jehovah’s Witness and the Watchtower did everything to gain and retain its members. But the “elders” were right to be worried for me because in this unknown little village I felt my first doubt for the Watchtower. If you are not a Jehovah's Witness, you cannot imagine the disgust and hatred the Organisation gives you for the clergy of the Church. It calls the priests “antichrists” (he crosses himself), it teaches us that they have never read the Bible, they are afraid to talk to Jehovah's Witnesses, because their ignorance will become apparent, that they care only for money and many more. The old priest of the village was none of these. He loved his church, he cared for his congregation, he helped the villagers in every way he could, even in their fields, if they needed him. He even greeted me and asked me if I needed help since I was on my own, even though I told him I was a Witness. It was a vivid contrast to what the Watchtower made me believe the priests were. When my “elder” called me to ask me how I was doing, actually if I had left the Watchtower, I told him "the priest here is not like the other priests," not that I had known anyone else, simply I accepted what the Organisation told me. I still remember how he shouted at me, that I doubt about Jehovah, that I do not appreciate the blessings since Jehovah found this job for me,(he was threatening me with my job, even though he knew how much I needed it ), I should be careful because I started to get carried away by the world of Satan and more. I was left speechless. When I recovered from the shock, it was like a light bulb lit up in my head. I thought "why brother Mateo was so angry? What does it matter to say that a priest of Babylon the Great [2] (he crosses himself again) is a good person? ". And then the Blessed Virgin Mary, because only a miracle can explain my idea, put into my mind the thought to ask the priest if he wanted to "discuss on the basis of Holy Bible," so I could see his ignorance and thus the Organisation would be justified! The priest happily accepted my proposal and, my dear friend, you understand that this was the beginning for me to escape from the sect and to join God's Church. Of course, I remained a Witness for another year and a half, it is not easy to be convinced that for 3-4 years, you lived in a lie and what makes it worse is that you lead others to it. However, I did not face the enormous problems like our brothers when they decide to leave the Watchtower. You see, the Lord helped me, because none of my family were Jehovah's Witnesses. I had support from my wife, and I was reunited with my brothers and my parents, since the Watchtower forbade me to speak to them in holidays, joys, and even sorrows. I lost friends I had among Witnesses, because I met some remarkable people, who sincerely loved God. I wish they let me talk to them and explain to them, but until today, after so many years, it is still not possible. "
Clotilde, 69 years old
"Oh! How many WCs I cleaned in my life! Hotels, offices, I ended up polishing the floors of the Galleries Lafayette [3] until I retired. My parents were Jehovah's Witnesses and followed the instructions not to offer their children a chance for higher education, because education is under the influence of Satan. You are an educated young man, and I do not know if you can imagine how it feels like the only books to have read in your life is those of the Watchtower. My grandson tells me that they are not only heretical but also of very poor quality. But for me these books were the only ones allowed to read. I did not read newspapers, magazines, other books, I was learning even how to get dressed from the Watchtower magazines! Of course, I should not be watching TV, going to the cinema, listening to music other than the Kingdom Songs. When I was a student, I was so sad I could not talk to my classmates about simple topics of everyday life! I remember that I did not even know who was the President of our country! And all this was happening, so "we would not do the Satan’s will." Today, at this age, I feel that my mind is limited, I feel silly (smiles shyly). I do not know, maybe I am not very smart, but we will never know it, because the opportunity was not given to me. Of course, I read as much as I can, but again it is difficult at my age. I learn now about these great events that happen in our world, progress, discoveries, and wars, immigration and I cannot understand their consequences. I do not know if you understand me, it's hard to explain it, because you have not experienced something similar. I just want to send parents a message not to do that to their children, not to restrict the minds of their children in reading Jehovah's Witnesses’ books so they become cleaners like me. Do you know that I did not get into any of our Cathedrals? We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, people come from afar to admire Notre Dame and Sacred Heart and Jehovah's Witnesses, who live in Paris, do not enjoy their city, they do not enter our Cathedrals, or God will burn them as He burned the sons of Aaron; I do not even remember their names now and I used to be afraid of that story (she laughs) [4]. It just occurred to meand I want to ask you: Athens has a longer history than Paris, Jehovah's Witnesses in Athens are also afraid to visit the beautiful monuments and churches of the city [5]?
Marie, 27 years old
As a child of ex - Jehovah’s Witnesses, what I remember from my childhood is the fear and the nightmares! Jean-Jacques, you realize that children of Jehovah's Witnesses have other concerns and not to fill in their field service report. Surely you know that officially we are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, I mean the children of Jehovah's Witnesses, but this is a huge lie of Watchtower. It forces our parents so children participate in all the activities of the Organisation, even in this damn field service. Since you are not a member of the Watchtower, why you are obliged to do these? Why does not the Organisation simply let the parents teach their children? What is even worse are the horror stories, the Watchtower repeats without any shame in front of children and the images in the Jehovah’s Witnesses magazines. I still remember the stories about how Jehovah would send birds to eat the corpses of those Christ would kill at the Armageddon, Christ on a white horse getting ready to kill us with a bow or a sword, I do not remember His weapon, the fire falling from the sky, fearful people and burned cities! I may sound funny or maybe your readers think I am funny, but as a child I remember that I was at school and I was terrified. I was thinking that today may happen all this terror I was reading about and I would find myself all alone in a destroyed school, surrounded by corpses; I was the only Jehovah's Witness and I thought that all my classmates would be killed by Christ! I was very anxious about how my parents would be able to come and get me, since the whole city would be leveled and dead people all around! Many times, I was dreaming about it too! To this terror, please add the loneliness, as I could not participate in any school event, go to birthday parties and so the other kids regarded me as something strange. When my parents decided to leave the Organisation, I was 13 years old. In this very sensitive age, I found myself lonely twice. I did not have any friends at school, and now that we left the Organisation, I lost the friends I had at the Kingdom Hall. Of course, officially I have never been a Jehovah's Witness, since I had not been baptized, so they had no reason not to talk to me. But like I said, this is huge lie and since my parents submitted the disassociation letter, they did not speak to me as well. I remember that I was with my mom and we met one of our old fellow believers with her daughter, with whom I was friend as Jehovah’s Witnesses, we studied the Watchtower together, we went to door-to-door ministry with our moms, etc. They did not talk to us and I heard my old friend saying to her mother “Marie will be lost, she chose the world." I cried a lot that day. It took me 1-2 years to get over my fears to a certain extent. You know, it had become my obsession that the massacre by Jesus Christ would happen, but me and my parents would be victims as well. My parents discussed a lot with me, but again I could not escape from this situation. I made new friends, but very few, because I remained socially awkward and isolated. I filled my solitude by reading a lot and so I managed to get a scholarship to the University. There I met a boy, we fell in love and he was a member of the University Catholic Youth. I am sure you know Michel and that we are getting married, right? So, I overcame my loneliness and I returned to the Lord's Church. It was as if Christ sent him as a gift to me, so I would stop think of Him like a war general who would kill me, because I was not in the "Organisation of Jehovah." Really, do you know what is one of the greatest fears of Jehovah’s Witnesses? I will tell you: that one day they will meet a non-JW, who is much more decent than his fellow believers and he loves God. This puts the Jehovah’s Witnesses to a severe test, as they are taught that only bad wolves are out there.
Sebastian, 17 years old (because he is a minor, he cannot yet be baptized in the Catholic Church without his parents’ consent)
I would like to talk to you about the Jehovah’s Witnesses teenagers. Have you seen the beautiful photos in the Watchtower magazines with happy teenagers playing football or board games? Smiling, happy and always well-dressed? That’s nonsense! (He used another word but it is better not to use it). They are big hypocrites, even bigger than their parents. I do not know why but almost always the girls are more than the boys(in Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations). Do you know how the girls are trying to draw our attention? When all normal girls put on their make-up and wear a little shorter skirts, our girls read The Watchtower, the Awake!, books and other nonsense issued by the Organisation (again, he did not say nonsense, but something much less polite). And they are trying to convince us so for their spirituality by taking notes in our meeting, quoting from the Holy Bible, participating supposedly happy at door-to-door ministry. Of course, they do make up their faces; actually, heavier than the “worldly” girls. There is not telling about their showing-off and the competition among them. And the boys, all they have to do is to choose whoever they like. I have not met a more sexist and misogynistic situation than this. Moreover, Jehovah’s Witnesses students very often become targets of bullies and their classmates' joke; the Watchtower teaches them to tolerate violence because supposedly they imitate the first Christians, who were persecuted for their faith. Besides, the Organisation pushes the women to tolerate domestic violence. I am telling you, they are misogynist, I'm sure of it. And that is the reason they refuse to honour Our Lady. Then it is us, we pretend to be "loyal to the truth" but we are tired of all these. I cannot wait to finish school and to walk away. I cannot take it anymore; I come the church and I look over my shoulder to make sure there is not someone who knows me around, because it is very busy around here. I've already told you that I will have huge problems if I leave now, because I do not have any relatives who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses that I could turn to for help. So, I am patient, I participate in the ministry, needless to say I have not been baptised yet under various pretexts, i.e. I'm still not ready, and I live this double life [6], as many Jehovah’s Witnesses teenagers do, so I can have some food and a roof over my head. You know that after school I work part-time, as much as I can because I do not have time with all this nonsense that the Watchtower asks us to do, so I can put some money aside. I want to drive my own car one day without having to listen to those annoying Kingdom Songs [7]. Recently, the most absurd thing happened and frankly I do not know whether I can wait until I become 18 to 19 and find a full-time job. You know that I love coffee, right? I drink plenty throughout the day. My parents wanted me to discuss it with the "thoughtful elders" (he makes an ironic grimace), because coffee is addictive and it is not appropriate to the true worshippers of Jehovah! Coffee, my friend [8]! Imagine how much they have fallen! I read an interview of Luke Evans [9]; I wish I had his courage, but I do not. I pray and I hope to turn my back very soon and forever to this terrible religion and I will nothave to come to the Church secretly.
Alexandre 32 years’ old
I was 20 years old and my sister and I participated to the ministry. We met a polite gentleman who took our brochure and invited us to his home, to discuss about the 1914 [10]. We were very pleased and we went to the meeting. I will spare our readers the details, so they will not get bored. What is important is the question he asked us and I still remember it: "Why do Jehovah's Witnesses quote the historians, when they say that the return of the Jews to Jerusalem was in 537 BC, but they reject the very same historians when they place the devastation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 587 BC? Why these two different standards? ". My sister could not or did not want to see the contradiction. However,  I understood it and I started looking into this matter further. At first, in the Watchtower literature, I felt certain that I would find a satisfactory answer. Not only this did not happen, but I felt even more bewildered. Then, I started reading the “apostate”websites [11]. At that time, I was reading posts and articles related strictly to the desolation of Jerusalem. I wouldn’t visit those sites, not even for that, but the question of that man was as if it had put a worm in my mind, not to leave me in peace. After a period of persistent research, I was convinced of two things: 1. The destruction of Jerusalem took place in 587 BC (or 586 BC according to some historians) and 2. Something even more important: the Organisation consciously chooses to lie to us, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, about this subject. Needless to tell you that I overcame my fears and doubts about the “apostate” websites and then a huge wave of Watchtower’s lies and heretic teachings crushed me. Internet is a great tool! The older generations were at a disadvantage without it and that is why the Organisation prohibits its followers to use it nowadays. Now, back to my story, if you do not experience this, you cannot understand me, believe me. My whole family are Jehovah's Witnesses for two generations! And I realized that we lived and were serving lies and idolatry. I had an enormous need to talk to someone about all that I had learned. I turned to my sister and she was terrified that I was seduced by "renegades"; she advised me not to tell anyone anything, to pray and to wait to find answers to my questions. She refused to admit that I was beyond the stage of queries, I had realised what truly was the "God's appointed channel" and I had nothing to wait for. But that day I also realised something else which was very sad: my family was no exception, they were brainwashed by Watchtower about “renegades”, the "world" which is ruled by Satan; so, I would not have any support, If I left the Organisation, I would lose them too.However, itwas impossible for me to continue living under the guidance of a sect. So, I organized secretly my disassociation, because I can assure you that if you do not plan carefully your life after your leaving the Watchtower, you may even find yourself a homeless. You have heard what happened to others. The first and most important step was to become professionally independent, to find a job that was not associated with Jehovah's Witnesses (i.e. the owner or the director would not be a Jehovah’s Witness). With the high rate of unemployment in France, it was very difficult for me, but finally I managed to get a job in the French public services. Then, I saved some money for the rainy days, because if anything happened to me, I could not turn to anyone for help. Finally, I wrote the letter of disassociation, explaining in detail all dogmatic reasons that led me away from the Watchtower. All these took me about three years. Finding a job outside my religious circle was the most difficult. During all this time, I was reading secretly several religious books; I loved God and it hurt me that all these years I was not there, where Christ is [12]. Of course, before letting   "our loving shepherds" know that I found out about their lies, I wanted to tell my family. I remember that I planned to do it after Villepinte [13]. Gossip is thriving in such occasions and Jehovah's Witnesses have named it 'interest in their brothers' (he laughs). So, I did not want to expose my family to all these curious people. Besides, it was not so terrible waiting for two more months after all these years! I forgot to tell you that all these years that I was preparing my disassociation, I did not give the right to anyone to understand anything, something psychologically exhausting; it takes huge reserves of patience. And to this pressure, please add the spiritual pressure, because as I told you I had started searching about religion as well. And when you discover that since the first day of your life, you live in a lie, you have a huge distrust on where to go after leaving the Watchtower. Anyway, the day came when I announced to my parents my decision. I will never forget this moment ever in my lifetime! At first, I started to tell them what I had found out about the lies of the Watchtower. My sister had lowered her head and did not speak; my father was angry and interrupted me saying "you came here to brainwash us with apostates’ lies?". My mother asked me "what is my purpose and I repeat these apostasies." When I told them I was leaving the Organisation, she broke into tears and she was repeating "my son cannot be lost without hope of resurrection." [14] My sister spontaneously said "why did you not give up when I told you?" My father accused her, when she explained what had happened, because she did not inform him. At the same time, he accused my mother, because she did not listen the Watchtower’s advice to leave me undereducated. Within minutes, a loving family had been destroyed. I do not want to talk more about these moments (he has tears in his eyes). I sent the same letter of disassociation to my fellow believers and my friends. You see, if I let them learn at the Kingdom Hall that I left, they would never learn the real reason and they would hear many lies about me [15]. That day was the last time my family talked to me. I have made great efforts to communicate with them, but they do not answer to my phone calls, texts and emails. I have not talked to them for seven years! All I ever received was a message from my sister, after the attacks of 13th November [16], "we are all fine." I had gone mad from anxiety and I begged her to tell me just that. I miss them very much and I pray someday our family will be reunited; it is my dream to participate together in the Holy Eucharist, as once we were attending together the Memorial. I've already talked too much. I'll stop by saying it has been two years since I made the most important decision to be baptised in our Church, I am glad that Jehovah's Witnesses are reduced in our country and I pray for them to find the courage to come to the Church, where their real brothers in Christ wait for them .

1. 1975: one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Watchtower. A false prophecy according to which the world would be destroyed in 1975 and the Jehovah’s Witnesses would inherit the earth. Because of this false prophecy, many lives were destroyed (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses donated their homes to the Organisation and they became homeless), and many followers walked away. Younger generations of Witnesses all they know about 1975 is that it was a misunderstanding of some Jehovah’s Witnesses and not an official Watchtower prophecy!

2. Babylon the Great: the whore in the Book of Revelations, 18:2. According to the Watchtower, Babylon the Great is the Church!
3. Historic department sore, a landmark of Paris.

4. It refers to Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, who were punished by God because they offered "strange fire" at the altar of the Lord in Sinai (Numbers 3,4 and 26.61). Their story is often used by the Watchtower, to terrorize Jehovah’s Witnesses about the punishment that awaits them if they attend a wedding or funeral of other religion!
5. I could not answer to her question because I do not know Greek Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, I suppose that they are not allowed to visit religious monuments, like Kapnikarea Byzantine Church.
6. “A double life”: The Watchtower and the Jehovah’s Witnesses use this phrase to describe the lifestyle of many Jehovah’s Witnesses teenagers who live a life according to the Organisation’s teachings and their parents’ expectations at home and at Kingdom’s Halls and they live a totally “worldly”way of life at school (they smoke, they drink alcohol, they date non-Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.). The phrase also refers to teenagers who have already decided to walk away from the Watchtower, but who do not experience their life in an extreme way (just like Sebastian). Double life seems to be a serious problem for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, because the Watchtower often refers to it in is editions; for example: A Double Life—Who Has to Know? “Young People Ask”, Volume 2, p. 136-137.
7. The Kingdom Songs, the religious songs Jehovah’s Witnesses use in their worship, is nearly the only music they listen to. For example, Sebastian’s parents listen to them even when they drive, something very usual for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
8. It was the first time I heard that story and temptation made me question it. It is so unbelievable, but it is true and I own Sebastian an apology for my doubts. The Watchtower (Study Edition,) 15/4/2007, p. 30: “Questions From Readers: Should a Christian avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine?Let us first consider why some people avoid beverages and foods that contain caffeine.One major reason is that caffeine might be considered to be a mood-altering drug, having a stimulating effect on the mind. It can also be addictive…”
9. Sebastian is referring to the British actor Mr. Luke Evans, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ son, who left the small Welsh village, where he lived, at the age of 16. He went to London to pursue a career as an actor and to walk away from the Watchtower. He has never been baptized and he does not speak negatively of his parents’ religion in his interviews. For example, he has said that his parents were very poor but there was love and happiness in his home, thanks to his parents’ religion. Former Jehovah’s Witnesses in their forums interpret this actor's attitude as a kind of compromise, so the Watchtower will not prohibit his family from having relations with him.
10. 1914: The most important doctrine of the Watchtower, the cornerstone of the Organisation’s teachings and beliefs. The invisible Second Coming of Christ supposedly took place in 1914 and Jehovah appointed the Watchtower as His channel on earth. The Watchtower must protect the 1914 doctrine at any cost, therefore it teaches that Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 607 B.C. and not in 587 B.C. as History and Archaeology and even the Bible have proved. Before the Internet, the Organisation did not give any further explanations about 1914 and if a JW asked about it, the reply was “these are apostates lies”. However, the Internet has caused many problems to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ leadership, so there are articles in the Watchtower literature trying to explain to theJehovah’s Witnesses why the 607 B.C. is the correct date for the destruction of ancient Jerusalem, e.g.“When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?” 1/11/2011, p. 26
11. This is how the Watchtower describes any site, magazine, book, etc. exposes its lies, false doctrines and false prophecies. It intimidates its followers not to read such sources or they are taking Satan’s side.
12. In the French language, Alexandre paraphrased Jesus Christ’s words: “…so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3).
13. “Paris Nord Villepinte”: large convention center located in Villepinte, near Paris Charles de Gales Airport, where Jehovah’s Witnesses attend their annual regional conventions. Alexandre was waiting for the Annual Regional Convention, an important event for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, before announcing to his family his decision.
14. Another way of control and fear: Watchtower teaches its followers that if they walk away from the Organisation, God will not resurrect them.
15. It is the official policy of the Watchtower to slanderthose who are leaving the Organisation by spreading lies and gossip about them.
16. He is referring to the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015.

Writer Jean-Jacques Santamouris

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