“Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? Just as it is written: ‘For your sake we are being put to death all day long, we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.’ To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us.’”
– Romans 8:35-37
As we awaken to our true relationship with the Father, we see more than ever the need to cling to the Christ and leave behind oppressive and abusive religious organizations. We have decided that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ 'not tribulation, distress, persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword,' and certainly not the error and arrogance of men. And we are coming off victorious through our sonship with God and our faith in Christ Jesus.
Sadly, so many of our brothers have not had this experience. Rather than being victors, many have left, and are leaving, the Watchtower organization as victims ‘skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.’ (Matthew 9:36) But it is possible to regain the victory, as Paul wrote:
“Therefore, strengthen the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, and keep making straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but, rather, may be healed.”
– Hebrews 12:12-13
This is possible only by developing faith in Jesus message that we are sons of God and brothers to one another. (Matthew 23:8-9; Galatians 3:26) And then picking up that torture stake (Matthew 10:36), and following Christ, not men. This is our story of how we gained the strength to move on victoriously and worship God and carry out our ministry without hindrance. (Acts 28:31)
Our Journey to Victory
We were associated with the Watchtower organization for over 40 years. For much of that time, we enjoyed fulfilling relationships and a rewarding ministry. But as time passed, the organization we once loved turned into a spiritual prison that is destroying the faith of so many. The hearty ‘spiritual food’ that was once served has changed into a lot of confusing babel. One only needs to look at the recent Watchtower Study articles to confirm that.
At times what we witnessed in the organization dismayed and confused us. My wife was troubled by the hypocrisy brothers displayed, judging one another on ‘dead works’ that were claimed to be done ‘for the kingdom.’ (James 2:26) I was an elder for many years, and observed mishandling of judicial cases, uncalled for discipline, unreal expectations, slander, and favoritism. Many times I wondered about Jehovah God's reason for allowing this. Looking back, I realize I may have victimized others myself, being in the position of elder. So I feel the distress from both sides – as an observer and as a likely participant. But we loved our Father and his Son, and it was that strong inbuilt urge to worship, despite these errors of men that allowed us to continue on. We held the view that by sticking to this organization, we were doing God's will.
Like so many others, the real eye-opener came when we fell on hard times, even life threatening times. The brotherly love that was preached so regularly from the platform, and that we had been taught to rely on, virtually disappeared. Instead of Christian support, we were subjected to unfair gossip, backbiting, slander, and the like, so much so that our children’s faith in God was shaken. We simply were not prepared for this sudden turn of events.
We felt betrayed and deserted by our friends, our brothers who had served shoulder to shoulder with us for so many years, whom we had opened our homes and hearts to, who had seen our children grow to young adults becoming part of the congregation. With the exception of a few faithful sisters, our congregation had let us down.
In hindsight, we suppose we should have expected as much. We were constantly being told we were a happy people. Of course, there was a veneer of love in the congregation. But it was more like a social environment than a true brotherhood. Wholesome spiritual food was off the menu. Conversations were not spiritual, they were all about fleshly matters. So it should not have been such a surprise that they were not equipped to be sources of refreshment. They had become an empty vessel with nothing to give.
The events of that time were beyond our control and caused so much distress in our family that my wife and I only survived with our faith in tact through the help of our Father. We knew Jehovah God would not leave us entirely (1 Corinthians 10:13), so desperately did we pray for his guidance and wisdom. But as our children witnessed this facade, both of them decided to disconnect themselves from the organization, leaving the hypocrisy behind. Sadly, all these events shattered their faith and belief in a God of love who was using a so-called God directed organization.
We have discovered that many victims of the Watchtower organization often lose their faith in God, rejecting him completely because of the slights and errors of men. They thought they were rendering worship to God, but when they realized they were rendering worship to unworthy and misplaced leaders, it was just too much to bear.
We did not decide to leave the organization at that time because we knew that our Father has nothing to do with what occurred in that congregation, just as He had nothing to do with what men did to his Son. It is the errors, ignorance and stupidity of men that causes so much sorrow. In time we learned that as mankind acknowledges Jesus’ authentic teachings, the love of the Christ will overtake the thoughtless, callous acts of religious organizations and soothe the soul of the God-trusting individual. Victims of religious and spiritual abuse will realize their anguish was at the hands of men who were in no way backed by God. And victims, such as my family, can become victors by means of the true good news as taught by our Lord.
Our Path to Victory
“Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened.”
– Luke 11:9, 10
We never gave up on those words of Jesus. They were the key to our achieving victory over the abuses of man. We knew we needed to start afresh in our spiritual outlook so that the trauma could fade away. We searched the scriptures daily for answers and help. I continually read the New Testament (Greek Scriptures), cross referencing verses.
Knowing Jesus was the Son of God, we knew his words were going to be the best to listen to. I understood he and the apostles were not speaking of a select few who had the promise of heavenly life, just the 144,000 (Revelation 7:4), but all mankind had the opportunity to attain to heavenly life, to see our Father, once they had completed their earthly life. All those years we had been taught otherwise, so it was quite a shock for my wife who had trouble even seeing herself in the ‘Paradise earth,’ not feeling good enough to survive Armageddon, let alone the end of the 1,000 year reign that would bring a further test. But when she was finally freed from this way of thinking, she had a new lease on life and continued with me in the search for truth on our journey to heaven.
Our whole outlook changed with this revelation of sonship with God and a true brotherhood of all mankind, and as we read the scriptures this thought opened up other treasures about our Father and drew us ever closer to Him and the exceeding love displayed by his glorious Son. We were suddenly on a road of truly gaining a proper relationship with Jehovah God as our own Heavenly Father. This was always discussed in the organization, but not always accomplished; as the Governing Body produces guilt and frustrations amongst its flock pushing our true destiny down to earth, agitating our inbuilt spirit, causing irritation within us and with our brothers in the congregation. This we had witnessed firsthand among our brothers – guilt, anger, strife and injustice.
Also, this understanding allowed me to really feel for people of other religions as brothers now, not as ‘worldly’ people who will die at Armageddon; and I attained a fatherly love for them just as Jesus did. (John 13:34) I was pushing aside the teachings of doom and gloom and other archaic beliefs in my mind and focusing on the treasures of Jesus' uplifting words.
Since attaining this accurate knowledge, we feel at peace in ourselves and with others and we urge others to continue to seek also. I am drawing closer to my Father, in my prayers and my thoughts, and continue to grow, as this knowledge ever expands. How could there be a ‘relationship’ with Jehovah God when we were being spiritually abused, and told we were to remain on a paradise earth as pampered pets.
When I declared my desire for heavenly life, the elders did not even inquire of my heartfelt decision. Instead they questioned my decision, evn condemning it. This behaviour could no longer be part of our lives as a family. The organization was like a heavy burden, definitely not like Jesus once said:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”
– Matthew 11:29, 30
We had to rid ourselves of the weighty doctrines of men and their misleading teachings. We could no longer listen to untruths and the baggage that is associated with serving in the organization. So we left. Of course, there was a certain amount of fear associated with leaving what you have so long known, but it was worth the turmoil of mind. The relief was incredible; the freedom astounding. Jesus yoke was indeed light!
In time, my wife came across www.AnointedJW.org. But with our background of spiritual abuse, we were wary of other internet sites. As we read the articles, we felt Jesus directed us there because our thirst for spiritual food was so great and the uplifting articles had plummeted us forward in knowledge and freedom. The writership of our dear brothers testifies to it being spirit driven in their answering what we had been deprived of all these years.
This discovery set my family on a life that we know is pleasing to our Father and we have never looked back. Constantly our minds are filled with uplifting thoughts. We have often wondered why we did not see these things before. But now we know that we have to be spiritually thirsty and mentally open in order for Christ to act and for the Spirit of Truth to lead us.
“For everything there is an appointed time.”
– Ecclesiastes 3:1
We speak freely at any time as there are no ‘hours’ in the ministry to count. There is no need to defend our beliefs; there is no one to convert. We now allow the Spirit of Truth to activate the person's heart. It is the love Jesus of Nazareth spoke which compels us fully now, without hindrance from an earthly religious organization. Everyday our love deepens for Jehovah God and His glorious Son. Our outlook is broadened to the heavenly realms, as we seek to come to know Our Father more and more. And there are indicators that our children will also find their way to this refreshing knowledge as they are loving and kind human beings who seek answers. We believe this because the message of sonship is strong within them as it is indwelt in all men, though for years they have struggled with the after effects of such a mind controlling “master-over-your-faith” organization.
Now we look at the trials of Christ with greater compassion and empathy. We are drawn closer to him as a result of his endurance, his uncomplaining attitude and absolute faith of His Father's will, and his willingness to undergo the most severest of trials that we can imagine. We think of his heavenly family who surely cringed at the sight of their beloved sovereign undergoing the death of a mortal man in such an undignified manner. And as the true message of sonship with God and the brotherhood of mankind came to the fore in our lives, the hurt, the scars and the injustice faded to the background.
My wife and I now understand why the brothers acted the way they did. They do not understand Jesus’ true message so they do not know how to imitate his faith. There was no point in tirelessly seeking justice that would never come within an organization that mocks the message of Our Lord.
Our victory is already known in the heavens; as we refuse to let men who reject the true teachings of Jesus of Nazareth turn us into victims. No longer are we slaves to men, but liberated, being victorious in our faith, continuing our journey of sonship, and we hope, whether today, tomorrow or sometime in the future, our struggle will encourage others to be victorious rather than remain a victim, as it is not the will of the Father.
The Spirit of Truth gave us a clear mind as we take in more and more of the truths of Jesus Christ and live our lives as he lived, not learning about him and his religion, but living his religion, helping people to witness the benefits of never giving up, never surrendering the truth of Our Heavenly Father and His Glorious Son. How right were Jesus' words;
“If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
– John 8:31, 32
It is our hope that others will also wake up and discern the need to abandon falsehoods and side with truth, as victors and not as victims. We truly look forward to being the generation that ushers in a new type of religion, one based on Godly devotion, mutual respect, love and tolerance.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God's love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
– Romans 8:38-39
This is the true way to live!
Associate Writers of www.AnointedJW.org