My name is David Brown and this is my Testimony.
To clarify, I am now safely ‘in Christ’, having spent 18 years under the control of the Watchtower organisation, otherwise known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In spending some time in contemplation I feel that God turned His attention to me when I was about 8 years old. Indeed, we were in an R E lesson and the subject of Christ’s return was mentioned and I can clearly recall an overwhelming feeling that Jesus would return in my lifetime, and a calmness about me that I can still remember.
Throughout my life I would always take great comfort in the fact that I was a Christian, and spent many hours pondering God, what He looked like, and such things. I always attended Sunday School, where the Bible stories fascinated me. As with many people in the Church of England my only contact with Religion came with the set piece arrangements, these being harvest festivals, carol services, weddings, Christenings, and funerals. I had a Bible that was presented to me when I passed my 11+ and joined Filton High Grammar School in Bristol.
Things went along like this until I joined a firm that sold insurance and I was based at their Swansea offices. This turned out to be a strange experience, to say the least, as we had 17 Agents, 8 were Baptists, 8 were JWs, and 1 was a psychology graduate who stood back analysing everybody else, including me!
In any event, it became clear very quickly that there were tremendous tensions in the Office mainly between the Witnesses themselves, but some of the dogma’s they held, particularly the blood issue, were causes for great friction between them and others in the sales team.
Things came to a head when it became clear that one of the Witnesses was being ignored by the others to such an extent that the Branch Manager and myself felt it necessary to call a meeting to sort this matter out.
This we did but could have no effect on the Witnesses behaviour, which was extremely frustrating to say the least. After this meeting I found myself alone with one of the main protagonists and in an effort to try and find some common ground I asked him, “What is it that you people actually believe?”, to which he tersely replied, “This system is going to end!”, got up and walked out. I was shocked by the statement, the way it was said, and his attitude as he left the room, I never got the chance to find out anything further while I was in that job.
Some years later, I was at home when at about 11 am there was a knock at my front door and through the obscure glass I could see the silhouette of a woman and young child. The rain that morning was absolutely horrendous and I opened the door and offered them a towel and invited them in to get dry. It was clear that they were JWs, and I took the chance to again ask what this witness thing was all about. The answer completely took the wind out of my sails when she said that they were Christians, and the thing that made them different was the fact that they followed the Bible to the letter. She gave me a publication called ‘The Bible God’s word or Man’s?’, and arranged for her husband to call back to get my opinion of it. This book was astonishing; it covered numerous aspects of the Bible, particularly the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and the credibility of modern translations.
A week or so later this lady’s husband called and introduced himself, and gave me a much larger volume called, “You can live forever in paradise on Earth”
Well I couldn’t put this book down, it covered all aspects of the way things were with the world, it dealt with all the problems, and gave a realistic if not frightening solution. Most impressive though were the number and lucid applications of Scripture included in this. I read it in a single day!
When he called the following week to get my thoughts on it, and to arrange to study it, I told him, “That one was done. What else did he have?” So he gave me a similar sized volume called, “Revelation, God’s grand climax at hand”, and left. Well that one took me two days, so I was a bit disappointed with my taking so long with it, but I was absolutely drinking up all this information and found it very satisfying indeed. In fact, I said to my wife that I would be becoming one of these Jehovah’s if I wasn’t careful! Little did I know then what was going to happen.
He started calling weekly. He brought me my own copy of the New World Translation, and sold me the idea that this was a more accurate version than any other, was in modern English, and had restored God’s name in passages where Jewish superstition had caused it to be removed.
I have to say that many things discussed I found difficult to swallow. Alarm bells clanged constantly, to such an extent that I set out to prove this organisation wrong and spent seven years putting what I considered killer questions to the person that was calling, and in general he always answered, if not always convincingly.
Two events then occurred almost simultaneously. Firstly, my father died extremely suddenly. He was only 53 years old and had been a PTI in the Army, played in the same Army football team as Dave Mackay, and Ralph Brand, both Scottish internationals, and went on to play professional football for Bristol Rovers, and semi professional for numerous clubs including Cinderford, Worcester City and others
On the day he died I was driving past his house at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and I actually saw him through the front window and intended to go in and have a cup of tea with him. However, I was running behind and in the time it took me to drive from his house to where I was living at that time, the police had arrived at my home just before me and informed me that he had dropped dead with a heart attack. I couldn’t believe it, I had not long before seen him through his front window. Anyway, I had to go and identify his body and, sure enough, it was true.
Many things occurred during the following days, the most irritating of which was the local vicar’s behaviour, whereby anyone would have thought they were best mates, but they had never met. Another issue was the behaviour of my brother’s spiritualist wife who was bringing my mother messages of condemnation, supposedly from my father, which quite frankly were extremely distressing. Another issue for me was the knowledge that my father was never faithful to my mother. In fact, there had been numerous rows between them over the many women he was involved with, but my fear surrounded the fact that the Bible described Hell for those that fell foul of God’s laws in this area.
I therefore challenged the person calling on me to give me a clear understanding of the position my father was in, and if he couldn’t we would call it a day with the studies we were having. He took the Bible, turned to a Scripture in Ecclesiastes and applied it to show that my father was in no trouble, was simply asleep in the ground awaiting a resurrection to a second chance during a thousand year reign of Jesus that was coming shortly, following the imminent Armageddon. To say I was relieved was an understatement and I was pleased to also stop the spiritualist rants that my sister-in-law was aiming at my mother.
At the same time we were studying a book that was commentating on Daniel, and Belshazzar’s feast, and the result of that struck me as being similar to the upcoming millennium shindig that was just on the horizon, along with the feared Y2K bug that was threatening to crash all computers and cause all the aircraft to fall out of the sky, among other things. I really thought that New Year’s Eve 2000 would see the threatened Armageddon.
I panicked, I set about getting myself baptised into Jehovah’s Witnesses as soon as possible, and also encouraged my wife and son to do the same. I didn’t want to, and many questions remained unanswered, but it struck me that better safe than sorry, and I was baptised in 1998 at the annual convention and my wife and son followed soon after. I was safe on the ‘ New Ark ‘ and sat back and waited confidently for Armageddon, which again was being quite confidently predicted before the turn of the century in the Watchtower and Awake, if not as vocally as previous failed predictions.
The years as a Witness started very well, I had crushed my doubts, and the general excitement that goes with being brought into an organisation flowered my experience. Indeed I was being encouraged to reach out for appointment to the body of Elders within 6 months, and I was doing loads of hours on the ministry.
I had joined the theocratic ministry school and was doing regular items including reading the week’s Bible passage, and number four talks where the material was pretty much supplied; it was a case of fine tuning the delivery.
I was appointed, after some messing around after three years as a Ministerial Servant, and then the fun started. Where, in the past, I had a measure of freedom, now I was a ‘brother’ and I had to fit the mould, and fall in line totally with Watchtower behaviour. They started picking holes in everything; my tie, my hair, the way I mixed with ‘worldly people’, even going to watch a game of football was being questioned as idolatry, and watching Star Trek was looked upon as being ‘ the thin end of the wedge ‘. I tried, of course, to comply with everything, after all this was God’s organisation and the last thing I wanted was to be destroyed having come this far.
Things continued to progress and I was now being encouraged to reach out to become a full Elder. As a Witness you actually do the job you are asking for before being appointed, so I found myself becoming involved in more judicial shepherding calls, where wrong doing was suspected but not able to be proved, which I found to be rather kangaroo court in its method. I even found myself sneaking around people at the Kingdom Hall trying to pick up snippets of conversations that may be portrayed in a bad light later; they do this a lot.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came when I found myself being asked to corroborate something I had not seen on the grounds that the organisation had to be kept clean at any cost, and to my regret I did exactly as I was told. The Scripture about bearing false witness was churning me for days after, and having seen the wreckage caused and the spite vented on the person being accused, all to settle an old score that had been fermenting for about 25 years, was sickening to my core.
I approached the Elder involved in the ‘set up’ and he didn’t want to know, just laughed and walked away. Two other Elders that I was close to were not judgemental in any way of me, however, one of them said and I quote, ‘You’ve just met the smiling knife’; absolutely sickening. I went home and wrote my resignation letter that night and handed it to the Presiding Overseer at the next meeting.
Many attempts were made to get me to reconsider, not because they wanted me to stay on but rather, and again I quote,” What are we going to say to the Circuit Overseer?’ ”Tell him what you like boys,” was the answer. In any event, I couldn’t look at any of that crew any longer and we upped sticks and moved to another Congregation.
There was some respite for a while but it didn’t take long for the suspicious nature of the Body of Elders to surface, and I found myself relegated to the ‘ dark side’ as it is termed where you get isolated and allowed only the most menial of privileges.
Things went from bad to worse as it seemed to me that I had been part of the inner quorum and given confidential information and now outside of their control they saw me as some sort of threat. Added to that, of course, was the fact that I hadn’t been born in to the organisation so was an outsider anyway. An indication of this divide was clear from an early point in my involvement when, whilst out on the Ministry, I tripped over a Kerb to which one of the others commented, ‘Back in the gutter where you came from!’ Many clear instances of this us and them culture occurred over the years, but that was one of the more spiteful.
Spiteful, jealous, miserable, all good descriptions, I would say, of many that are involved with this Cult.
It was now that the alarm bells started ringing again, what on Earth had I gotten myself and family involved with? I started then to do more research and took more notice of comments Christians were making to me while on the Ministry, one of which I found really disturbing involving the background to the New World Translation, so I found my old King James and started to compare the two.
The main scripture that bugged me was at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said ALL AUTHORITY, not part, this bit or that bit, ALL AUTHORITY, was His in Heaven and on Earth. I had nothing to do with Him, not one jot, in fact the Bible as the express possession of the Anointed had nothing to do with me either. I wasn’t saved, and apart from works still had little more than ‘ a hope’ of surviving Armageddon. What a nightmare!
This was followed by other Brothers highlighting errors like the U N involvement in which they barefaced lied about it. Nothing though could have prepared me for the near disaster that almost cost my 19 year old son his life.
On the Tuesday evening he had what we thought was a simple nose bleed, it took some time to stop but seemed ok. This then happened again twice on the Wednesday, and started getting worse on the Thursday to such an extent we got him into casualty, where he was admitted straight away on to an ENT surgical ward.
There was still no panic until he started to seemingly be drowning in his own blood. Of course, the fact that he was a Witness was explained to the Doctors and although concerned this in no way altered the efforts they were making to stop this now quite serious bleeding. We called out the health liaison brother, which was the third attempt, as the first ‘ was going to Rome on holiday ring someone else’, and the other couldn’t see any reason for panic at that stage.
We wished we hadn’t bothered as it became clear that rather than helping the Medics he was getting in the way, checking all the drugs against his list, making comments from a non medical background, and being an all round pain in the rear.
I could tell that they were on the point of giving up as they were being prevented from doing everything they could, and as fortune would have it one of the doctors went into a side ward where I was able to talk to him and make it clear that regardless of Witness theology the bottom line was that my boy was not going to die. They pointed out that the implications for them legally could be severe if he didn’t agree, however, they said that bridge would be crossed if it came up.
I went back in and kicked out the H L C Brothers, and the medics went into overdrive. They called two specialists in, opened a theatre that had been closed down for the weekend, and over a 6 hour operation they managed to locate and seal an aneurism that had burst in the back of my son’s soft palate.<
The blood loss had been horrific and although he hadn’t died today, he was a long way from being out of the woods with this and the packing that had been pushed into his nose and up from the back of his throat would need to come out on Monday, and if he bleeds there is little that can be done as his count was at 2.1.
My wife and I arrived home exhausted and shocked and frankly cried for hours over the nightmare we had just been put through.
We attended the Sunday meeting where we were treated like lepers, everybody avoided us, apart from one Elder’s wife, who expressed the view that it would be wonderful if he dies, just imagine the headlines, 19 year old dies for his faith! Pathetic!
Later that day another Elder phoned me and said that if he hadn’t taken blood all he had to do was say that he had panicked and the judicial committee would have only reproved him rather than throw him out.
Monday came, the packing came out, no bleeding, numerous people brought him steaks and said to eat them as raw as possible. Odd really, considering the scripture they use to prohibit blood transfusions, and he made a quite startling recovery.
didn’t realise it then but that was really the beginning of the end of my involvement with this outfit. The fear of destruction at Armageddon kept me in line to a certain extent but when a brother was disfellowshipped for independent thinking, his crime being doing his own Bible research outside of the set reading for the week (something I had been doing myself for ages) I really could see no point in continuing.
It took four years of downhill spiritual health and physical health, with constant battles with myself, and questions never being answered that I got to a point where the years of conditioning my mind, and forcing myself to keep in line brought me to the point where I thought the only answer was to kill myself. I faced destruction at Armageddon anyway so what’s the difference? Then I came across a Satellite Channel called Genesis, or RevGen as I now call them, and surfing the net I found this chap called Doug Harris interviewing a former JW called Peter Price.
I think that having been conditioned by continual repetition, study, meeting attendance, and fear of reprisal I had lost my ability to reason for myself or at least was loaded down with so much spiritual inertia that I was really unable to react to what I was seeing.
The worst thing any Christian can be accused of is that of being an enemy of God, a blasphemer, indeed even Jesus pleaded for that cup to be taken away if possible, sweating drops of blood and great outcries of pain. The Witnesses have got their own special nasty description that is drilled in week after week. It is that all that Satan wants is for you to leave God’s organisation and become an apostate, even writing the word apostate sends my stomach into somersaults.
The continual negative reinforcement of this term, causes untold mental stress, rather die than be an apostate. The terms of reference for apostasy are wide and all-encompassing in that any activity outside of the organised weekly regime was considered to be apostasy; you were siding with Satan, and resisting God.
The things I was doing which any normal person does without second thought, surfing the net, watching programmes on the religious section of TV, reading the Bible on my own terms, and the version of my choice, were so condemned by the organisation I felt that I was involving myself in spiritual pornography, and that is not too strong a description, because of the self loathing I felt after doing these things. I felt that I needed to go to the Elders and confess my wrongdoing on a number of occasions and the fact that I didn’t made me feel spiritually dirtier and dirtier. I was a turncoat, an enemy of the One who died to ransom me back.
On the other side of the coin, the lies and confrontations and outright misery of being a Witness (although some people do want that kind of life and indeed revel in being the hard done by poor soul was causing me to question the whole shooting match from top to bottom.
So, I turn to You Tube, look up Jehovah’s Witnesses and find the item mentioned earlier, and with a degree of self loathing run the video.
Well, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, Peter was telling Doug the exact same things I was experiencing. I had been involved for 18 years, Peter for 30. The same issues were cropping up, the same fears and doubts, the same problems with trying to find a solution to the situation. I ran the item over and over to make sure I wasn’t imagining the whole thing, but what do you do with it? My wife wasn’t interested; she’d had enough with the performance surrounding my son and hadn’t been to a meeting for years. I was on my last legs spiritually, I thought that spiritual death was the only option. My son, with whom I run a business, (yes window cleaning!) was a problem because he is engaged to a Witness Sister and he couldn’t leave without losing his relationship with her. That brought the shunning issue into play, as they wouldn’t want him living at home nor working with me, if we were no longer Witnesses. I had been part of and enforced the spite mill, so I knew all too well how nasty that would be. Nevertheless, I emailed Doug at Reachout Trust and asked for his help.
Now I was in trouble. I was an apostate and when Doug emailed me back with relevant Scriptures to read, and also with the offer of discussing these things further, I have to admit it didn’t feel at all right, and although I read through those Scriptures I didn’t feel that I would need to leave the Witnesses, until the first one that is, John 1:1, the Word was God, not a god. The whole Witness theology goes to great lengths to deny the Deity of Jesus. There is no Hell, and He wasn’t killed on a cross. The whole central Theme and bedrock of Christianity had nothing to do with the so-called true religion. How can they call themselves Christian when they deny the very essence of the faith?
Following the Scriptures that Doug sent I found that all the years of ‘Works’, that is never miss a meeting, always participating by answering up in the Watchtower and book studies, fully involved in the theocratic ministry school, and of course ensuring that at least 2 hours a week was spent on the Ministry, was not only a total waste of time, it was an insult to God. He had paid IN FULL, who am I to think I can add anything? Added to this was the discovery of Grace and what that actually means, not a hope but a guarantee!
The voyage of discovery, that still continues, was fantastic and somewhat disturbing. I thought my good works stood for something, wrong! I thought I could impress God, wrong! I thought that I could personally effect my final judgement, wrong again! The fact that I discovered that, without Jesus standing in and up for me, I would remain condemned, was very frightening initially. Then I discovered how to find Him, and what to do to have Him as my Saviour. I would say that this process continues as I know He is in my life now. I wouldn’t be finding all the spiritual truths that I am if that were not the case. However, my rebellion still affects my repentance in that I still try to do it on my terms to an extent. This situation is improving steadily, though, as the Holy Spirit works in me to show me these areas and the route to putting things right.
The greatest gift, however, is the peace that Jesus has brought into my life, all the striving, fighting, struggling and regret and failure is over, I know that He wants me to leave it to Him, He wants me to be still and listen to Him, He wants to grow in me quietly and gently, and frankly I am so glad that I am safe within His strong arms, Brilliant!!!!! I am learning to trust Him totally, and there have been one or two situations that I would normally have tried to control that indeed I struggled to leave to Him, but frankly the outcomes have been staggering in the method and volume, and prove to me His total love.
Ephesians 2:8 explains what He wants, and in His good time as I grow in peace and in Him I will be able to reflect Him in my life, and His light in me will provide all He wants from me to help others find the same joy. God bless those people who helped me from the nightmare to this understanding, particularly Doug, who was always available to Jesus to help me.
Total turmoil ensued. I bought version after version of the Bible to see if any of these agreed with the Witness version. None did, but why should they if the Witnesses had the insider knowledge they claim? Then I found some scriptures in the NWT that actually say the same as the NIV, Thomas called Jesus his Lord and his God, and Jesus didn’t rebuke him, stunning! Many more like this followed and it soon occurred to me that the only ones changed were the ones that needed to be to support the lies and dogma the Witnesses proclaim.
Turmoil turned to anger, I approached Elder after Elder, e-mailed them all sorts of relevant questions and got nothing in return, apart from derogatory comments about my service to God.
My conversations and e-mails to Doug covered more and more spiritual truth and insight. The Holy Spirit is not an electric current at all but a person, and what’s more, God as well, another Witness lie exposed and corrected.
The narrow Witness view gave way to wider and wider understanding, I could have a relationship with Jesus, I could talk to Him, and don’t worry about hoping for surviving Armageddon, I could be saved for everlasting life with and in the presence of God forever! My life changed, my spirit lit up, the feelings of loathing for finding these things disappeared and my spiritual thirst returned with a vengeance.
Throughout last November and December I enjoyed the most fantastic journey of spiritual discovery ever, and that continues, I found my God, discovered His love, and committed myself to Him for all eternity.
I and my wife caused uproar with the Witnesses when we resigned; they have to kick you out, so they didn’t like that. We found a spiritual home at our local Baptist Church, and we were baptised into Christ together on Pentecost Sunday 2009.
My anger toward the Witnesses has now gone. There are those that revel in the false authority they think they have as the chosen few, but by far the vast majority are trapped by the tentacles of an overwhelming all ensnaring organisation. I hope that in time the Lord will also bring out my brothers and sisters as He has with us, also those that have lost God due to the Watchtower experience (and there are thousands) I pray we can find and help as well. I am sure that the Holy Spirit at the right time will set about bringing these lost sheep home to Jesus.
For my part I praise the Lord for all that He has done, and continues to do, in the lives of my wife and me. I pray for my Son and his fiancée, that they will find the Lord.
This is just the beginning of this story, I pray that any member of any Cult that reads this my Testimony will be encouraged to look for the true God. If you do you cannot fail to find Him, He is waiting and eager to bring you home.
This journey continues forever,