I was four years old when my parents began to
study with the Jehovah's Witnesses. My mother answered the door to one of
them while in their door-to-door work. If I remember correctly, she accepted
a little blue book titled, "Life -By Evolution or Creation?". Mother had
believed in evolution up to that point. At first my father did not want
anything to do with them, but eventually sat in on the study, and, by 1971,
he and mother were baptized at a Circuit Assembly at Straffordville,
Ontario. My older sister and father's parents were baptized in 1972. It was
then we learned of something very interesting.
My grandmother's family (Secord) had been associated with the International Bible Students as far back as the 1880's. This was the sect that Charles Taze Russell founded which became known as Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1930's. My fathers' grandparents, William and Ada Secord, and their son, Arthur, professed inclusion in the class of the 144,000 anointed ones- the only group the Jehovah's Witnesses teach are going to heaven. My grandmother actually played the piano at the young age of ten at the early meetings of the Bible Students. This was in 1913, right before the failed 1914 prophecy fiasco. My great-uncle, Arthur, spent his adult life serving, first at the Watchtower radio station, WBBR, on Staten Island, and then, after WBBR closed, at the world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. His uncles, Walter and Aaron Secord, were also Bible Students.
I was baptized by Jehovah's Witnesses in 1980. I was at the height of my involvement and I saw the Watchtower as the cream of religious society. My view was, as I had been taught, that we were right and the rest of the world was wrong. This euphoria, however, was short lived. Within two years of my baptism, I was feeling discontented with the organization and some of the doctrines they taught as truth. Earlier on, I had received some older publications from one of fathers' aunts that had belonged to her father-in-law, my great-grandfather, William Secord. I can't recall them, all but a couple were from the Millennial Dawn series, by Russell, and also one or two of Judge Rutherford's books. There was also one of the original hymnals with references to the cross, plus other citations that no longer fit with Watchtower teachings of the 1980's. I was surprised when my parents advised me against reading them. This peaked my interest more. What was so secretive about them? This led me to delve into my family’s collection of The Watchtower and Awake! bound volumes.
By the age of twenty, I had been convicted in my spirit that I was destined for heavenly life - part of that 144,000 number, if you will. This was totally against Jehovah's Witnesses’ teaching, as they proclaim that number was sealed decades before I was even born. They did admit though, that some of this number would fall away and need to be 'replaced'. To replace one of this number, God was to simply select another spiritual person. In my understanding, I was one of the replacements. Mother believed me, father was not sure, and only ONE elder felt there was any legitimacy to my claim. The other elders judged me as being way off the track spiritually. My father took me to see another 'anointed' brother in nearby Simcoe, to make sure. Make sure of what? What could this man reveal to me that the Holy Spirit had not? He told me it was unlikely I was anointed as I was very young in age, about twenty, and that Jesus had been thirty when he began his ministry. So, where in scripture does it say that one has to be thirty to become a child of God? (Romans 8:16) Yes, Jesus was about thirty, and Watchtower points to the nation of Israel where some requirements were that men be thirty years of age for priestly duties, and so forth.
Onward I went with my conviction of heavenly destination. I prayed to God about being with Him some day. I was very troubled by all the flack I received about this from the congregation and some family members. The more I read the bible, the more I became discontented with Watchtower teaching. All I wanted was the truth. I would go to the library and compare the Watchtower's New World Translation against other translations. This is something the Watchtower society does not want you to do. Why? The result is you will eventually find the error in their proclamations and find the real TRUTH. It came down to the point where I could no longer serve in the door-to-door work and preach things I no longer believed were true. I was then ostracized, belittled, singled out, and chastised at the hand of both family and congregation. Eventually I suffered an emotional breakdown, in 1981, and was institutionalized for evaluation. I had suffered an anxiety attack on the way home from the Kingdom Hall one Sunday and ended up driving my car into a ditch. I was diagnosed by a doctor as having tried to commit suicide and was sent for the evaluation. An elder visited me and asked if I had tried to kill myself. No. His point was that if I had tried, this was the same as attempted murder and I could be disfellowshipped. He never once asked me what was troubling me inside. He seemed more concerned for the image of the congregation than my health and welfare.
I eventually fell into alcoholism and was reproved. No problem there. This was used against me and my claim of heavenly destination. My sister asked me once, "How can you drink so heavily and be anointed?!". I asked her to answer me one question: "Do you sin?" Bang, right out of the saddle! My last drunk was in October, 1996, the same year I left Jehovah's Witnesses for good. Earlier on, in about 1994, I had been out of work and my wife and I were really stretching every welfare assistance dollar. We were both attending the Kingdom Hall as regularly as we could. I had to swallow pride and ask the congregation for a bit of grocery help. The answer was no. I asked my family, they said no. So where did we have to go? Here we were, a Jehovah's Witness couple, both baptized, having to go to the United Church for a food voucher! That was the beginning of the end for my wife, as far as Watchtower.
In 1996 we moved back to St. Thomas, and left the Watchtower. It was here, that in 1993, I had been disfellowshipped for living common-law with her. At the time, I didn't care. I was re-instated in 1994, after we were married. It was all smiles, handshakes and hugs, until again, I could not blindly accept what I was being taught. I left in 1996 with no letter of dissassociation, I just left. I floundered around for the next five years. I joined service clubs and fostered teenagers. I was like many former Jehovah's Witnesses who do not know what to do or where to turn. Though, I could not turn my back on God, whoever he was. I just felt something pushing me into seeking God again . In 1999, I discussed this with my wife and she wanted no part of it. I assured her that I was not returning to Watchtower. She was fed up with church. There began a course of friction between us. I expressed the need for God in our lives. No way. I then just asked for her support, she did not have to join me. Our relationship weakened and she eventually moved out. I was angry at myself as I could not make sense of this. She left in October of 2000. I share some of the blame as my personality, at that time, was confused and angry. Scriptural cause for divorce was established. I was lonely, and felt abandoned. But I decided not to let it take me down. In November of 2000, I prayed for the first time in years. I prayed and wept. I prayed some more; I wept some more. Enter Raymond and Georgina.
This evangelical couple, who have now become like my own parents, invited me to just read one verse of scripture with them each day. Sure, what did I have to loose? Soon we were eventually studying God's Word! I loved it! I delved into scripture and really began studying the New Testament Gospel of Jesus Christ. The true identity and life of Jesus leapt from the pages of the bible and into my heart. However, it was not a time without testing. God's adversary, Satan, was not pleased that I was pursuing God. He threw in my face my past struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, my pending divorce, and depression. I began to feel worthless again. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. Many a time I was at Ray and Georginas' (Mom and Dad) at two and three o’clock in the morning, with my face full of tears, distraught, and needing someone to talk to. Mom would pray with me and Dad would make coffee. Eventually, I mustered up enough courage to accompany Mom to her church. I really felt out of place, but enjoyed the service. I was getting a taste of the real TRUTH.
A month later, on March 15th, 2001, at a Wednesday evening bible study, I began to weep during the closing prayer. By the ‘Amen’, I was sobbing. Mom and Pastor Barry led me upstairs to the altar, where, on my knees, with pastor Barry leading in prayer, I gave my life to Jesus. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I was Born Again! I left my old life at the foot of the Cross and moved on. I saw clearly now that it was Jesus who had delivered me from Watchtower those five years ago. I have not looked back, not even once. Even though I am comparatively young as a Christian, God has used me in many capacities including assistant pastor, elder, Praise & Worship leader, adult bible study leader and pastoral team worker. I also serve as Lay Minister with an evangelical ministry here in St. Thomas. Recently, God has blessed me with Restoring Walk Ministry. With Restoring Walk Ministry. I support and encourage former Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as those wanting to leave Watchtower and those in the process of doing so. I assure them that there IS life after Watchtower. I serve God directly now, and not through the Watchtower's man made haze of rules. I like the words of the Reverend Dr. King, who, when speaking of another situation, declared, as I do now, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!"
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