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What would you do if you woke up one morning and realized that everything you've been taught, everything you've known, everything you've thought was truth was not.  As a matter of fact, everything was a lie.  And this lie was taught to you by the people you love most in the world, your parents.  This has been what has been revealed to me over the last few years of my life.

You see, I grew up in a religion that claimed to be God's sole channel of communication to mankind on Earth.  And everything pointed to us being right.  In our religion we were taught not to smoke, not to drink too much, not to do anything contrary to the Ten Commandments.  We were a religious people, and after all weren't we the ones that went out and preached the good news from door to door like Jesus taught.

Growing up in this religion was not easy as a child.  I would look around at the people and I didn't see people filled with the love of God.  As a matter of fact, when church was over, us kids couldn't wait to get together and gossip over someone who we saw smoking; and like the little Pharisees that we were, we would sit there on our little holier-than thou thrones, looking down on the rest of the world.  But we were allowed to because as our parents taught us "we have the truth".  For myself, I must admit I did like attending church.  Not because of what I was learning, because I questioned a lot of what I was being taught, but because I could get together with my friends and socialize.  For me, going to church was no different than belonging to a social club, and it was as much of a blessing as attending an outing to the zoo or MacDonald's, only I would probably have agreed with more of what I was taught at the zoo.

We were taught that we were God's happy people.  We were the chosen ones and every other church was "of the Devil", Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion.  We were really special.  This was evident by how we didn't salute the flag, sing Oh Canada, or celebrate pagan holidays.  We were taught the cross was evil and that's why all the churches had them in them and on them.  This would make us cringe as young people.  From the time we were little we were taught to hate the cross, and to fear them and anything to do with false religion.

As a little girl I was taught to sing a song in kindergarten.  It was "JESUS loves me".  I loved it and came home singing it one day.  It didn't go over too well.  Mom said I should not sing with the worldly kids at school.  They believed in a different GOD, a false god, a freakish looking three-headed GOD.  We had the one true GOD of the BIBLE.  His name was Jehovah, and HE was only to be worshipped.  I was a pretty good little girl growing up as a Jehovah Witness, but I wasn't very happy.

I thought, if we are so right, and we are GOD's happy people, where was this joy?  Where was this peace?  In my own home my parents were never happy.  They fought continuously, and I remember I would scream at the top of my lungs "Stop, Mommy and Daddy", and I would run into my bedroom and cry.  I would beg Jehovah to make them stop.  I remember praying that He would make them split up to stop the fighting.  I was desperate.  I just couldn't see how this was the truth when my Mom and Dad had no victory over this.  And when the church leaders would counsel them, they would just say, "You need to get out to more meetings, and you need to get out in the field service more".  So they would, but nothing changed.  I grew more and more bitter as the years went by. I hated church, I hated school, and I wasn't crazy about this Jehovah GOD or my parents.  Don't get me wrong, I did love my parents, but I hated this life they had brought me into.    I would say to my Mom, "Is this the truth we are in?  Why does GOD hate us so much, why won't he help us?"

 I was getting more and more depressed with this life that was so messed up.  I would take a bottle of my parents' booze and go and sit on the edge of the cliffs and look out at the lake with its beautiful colors and think, "oh GOD, why me'? Why does everyone else have nice lives but me, why is my life so unstable, so crazy?" So I would talk to the GOD who I wasn't sure was out there, and if he was, he sure didn't like Laurie.

I found that drinking helped me to cope with my pain, temporarily.  It numbed my brain.  I could escape for a while.  Then I started doing drugs, like pot and LSD.  Then I really escaped to far away lands and tried to escape from reality.  One night I took acid with my boyfriend at the time who wanted to be Nazi.  He hung around with some people that were, from the looks of them, pretty hard core hate mongers.  There was this little sixteen-year-old girl doing LSD with people that loved Hitler.  One man looked like a two hundred pound Hitler.  He had the Hitler mustache and a swastika tattoo on his arm.  That night I came under demonic attack so strong that I cried out to GOD all night, begging Him to spare my life and my sanity.  It was a night of living hell on earth.

That sent me back to church when GOD spared my life and I was going to do it right this time.  No more drugs, no more partying, no more skin-head boyfriends.  I would straighten out my life and be a good Jehovah Witness.  However, I heard things at the meetings that I could never believe, so I tried and tried, but it was no use, I couldn't believe this.  Therefore, I kind of made up my own religion.  There was a GOD, there was no hell.  The Bible was maybe partly true, but church was boring and only hypocrites go there.  Then I met a guy that really caught my eye.  He was not bad looking, he partied, and drove a really nice white Trans Am.  All the prerequisites of good husband material, or so I thought.  He asked me to live with him at his Dad's house, so I moved in quite swiftly.  This way I could have the freedom from the Jehovah Witnesses I so longed for.  However, I ended up spending 2 years looking after this man and his father.  Not too much freedom there.  I still had this hunger in my heart for GOD though.  I remember laying hung over and listening to the church bells Sunday morning, and longing to go to church, just out of curiosity.  I said to my fiancé whoever bought me the ring he promised, "We should go to church some morning".  He looked at me like I was nuts and said "Have you lost it?" I would try and talk about GOD with him.  He would only say that he believed in hell, and it was the Bermuda Triangle.  That was what he believed, and he was sticking to it.  I gave up even trying to talk about GOD.

I don't know why, but I cared very deeply for this person and stayed with him, even though he was extremely physically abusive.  After 2 years of trying to make it work, I beat him up and left.  There I was, I had just paid back the one who I loved by beating him up, and I was proud.  I was quite a huckster and I had proven it by beating on the one who I was wanting to spend the rest of my life with.  I bragged about it to all my friends, how held got what he had coming, and I really showed him.  But inside, I was dying.  My heart ached, my mind was fried and I hated men.  They were all rotten jerks and should be treated like the scoundrels that they are.  There I was at home again, hating men, going back to the Kingdom Hall (only for appearances) and bitter with life, and very bitter towards GOD.

I started into the next year of my life in a downward spiral that was so dark and so depraved that I find it hard to go there.  I was miserable.  I was the woman at the well.  I was hurting so much I was like a song I used to listen to,"Just two lost souls living in a fish bowl", only I was the only fish in my bowl.  And I just wanted to float to the top and disappear.

In a state of desperation I cried out "GOD, if you are really there, please send me someone who really knows who you are, man or woman, I don't care, just a friend who can show me who you are".

TWO WEEKS LATER... In walked into the room Mike Antonio.  "You are Italian!" I could tell he was.  No one who's not Italian is that handsome.  But it was more than looks that caught my eye with this man.  It was this kindness in his eyes I was not familiar with.  It was Jesus I was seeing in his eyes, but I didn't know it at the time.  Such love.  He asked me out to a church in London.  This church was different than anything I had ever seen.  The people really looked as though they wore actually getting through to GOD.  'I was amazed at how they would lift their hands in the air to GOD, some were crying, some were kneeling before the altar.

I thought, "This is completely wacky.  What is with these people?" Secretly I longed for what they had.  I was singing songs to JESUS and to the Holy Spirit.  I had this amazing love for JESUS in my heart.  I thought, "This is wrong", but my heart felt so good lifting up His name.  I basically didn't know the Bible well enough to know that what I was doing was more than just OK, it was necessary, because the Bible says some day "Every knee will bow to Jesus, every tongue will confess that HE IS LORD".  But I didn't know that.

And one day I did the unthinkable, according to the religion that I had been raised with, I asked JESUS into my heart, and to be my Lord and Savior.  I wasn't sure what all that meant, but my heart was somehow touched by the love of JESUS.  I would say "I could feel HIS love for me in my heart".  But my Dad said, "It's all emotionalism.  It's not real.  There's more to it than that!" I started to question what had happened.  However, JESUS had a plan for my life.  He had brought me this far, He" wouldn't let me go now... I started listening to Mike as he discussed the Bible with my parents.

One day as we were discussing who JESUS was, Mike quoted a Scripture.  It said "When GOD brings His firstborn into the world He says 'let all GOD's angels worship him"'.  That Scripture penetrated-my heart so powerfully, I thought, "Wait a minute, JESUS is to be worshipped.  What!  How can this be?" As Mike showed me Scriptures about JESUS, I found out He was worshipped all the time by people in the Bible.  He never rebuked them.  He never said "Get up", or "Don't worship me.  I am a fellow servant," like any of the angels or people in the Bible who anyone tried to worship.  JESUS always gladly accepted worship.  This could only mean one thing.  He was GOD.  I had to confront the fact that I had been ripped off of the truth about JESUS.  And the more I researched into my former religion, I found lie after lie after lie.  Everything I had known to be true, everything I had been taught to be true, was in fact a lie.  I was at a crossroads.  And I had a lot on the line.

If I stand for JESUS I may be labeled an apostate.  I may lose my family.  I may lose my friends I've grown up with who are like family.  I had a choice, deny JESUS, or risk losing my family.

Sure you may say, "that's easy, of course you pick Jesus." It wasn't that easy at all.  I still had an attachment to my parents.  I was still struggling with alcohol and my heart was being torn in two.  But JESUS was there.  He walked me through.  I found out that He is a suffering GOD and He suffers right along side of me.  He has sent me His Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and has promised to never leave me or forsake me.  He has given me strength to overcome alcohol addiction.  It wasn't easy.  I had to put my hand to the plow.  But it was His strength.  And the Scripture that says "Surely He carried our sorrows", that is what He does.  He carries us through the valleys.
I was faced with losing everything, and also forced to deal with the fact that I was deceived into believing a lie, and also my whole life had been a lie.  I had to learn that everything was the complete opposite of what I had been taught.  I had to face that we, as Jehovah's happy people, had been serving the enemy by calling the church that He loved and died for "Babylon the Great, World Empire of False Religion".  In fact, we were part of this False Religion that Paul warned would rise up in the last days and deceive many.  But, hallelujah, JESUS is so full of mercy and forgiveness, He still called me His own and loved me.

And there is nothing like a personal relationship with JESUS.  I am getting to know Him more and more every day.  And I'm living proof of His great mercy.  If HE can forgive me, the chief of sinners, His arms are open wide to you too.  He loves you.  He desires you to know Him, to be intimate with Him, to seek HIS face, to bask in HIS presence, to grow in the knowledge of HIS love and grace, - and to behold HIM as the great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Almighty GOD, Everlasting Father I, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (GOD with us), Our Rock, Our Great GOD and Savior JESUS CHRIST.

Oh, how great Thou art.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

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