My journey to Jesus from being a Jehovah’s Witness:
I was brought up in a family where my dad was a Jehovah’s Witness and my mum was a Roman Catholic. My dad brought me up as a Jehovah’s Witness. All the family on my dad’s side were and still are Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was 8 my parents divorced but I continued being initiated into the religion.
Religious Activity –
As Jehovah’s Witnesses we had 3 meetings a week in a Kingdom Hall or at other practitioners’ houses. Since the time I was very young I was taking part in public ministry which involved door to door and street outreach. We were taught about the religion’s take on the Bible and of the surrounding world (many of these views were completely contrary to those of people around us in the society). Young believers also had a personal Bible study led by an adult from the congregation and we were expected to read every new Watchtower and Awake magazine that was released. Every Jehovah’s Witness was also required to spend time praying and reading the Bible, although this is not emphasised as much as the other duties – at least when I was growing up.
We were brought up to believe we were different from other people and that only we had a true understanding of the world and of the Bible. We grew up believing we were “holier” than other people, but at the same time feeling constantly condemned by the religion’s rules and regulations that were supposed to be derived from the Bible. I always felt a little sad about not being able to do the things other children did – organising birthday parties, participating in Christmas celebrations, drawing christmas trees and so on. The real issues began towards the period of adolescence, when the desire to “fit in” and just be with the other youngsters (as Jehovah’s Witnesses were not allowed to have friends from outside of the organisation) proved to be stronger than the conscience trained by the religion. By that time I had not come to know God personally, but I believed I knew him as I was somebody who belonged to the organisation.
The organisation is known among the practitioners as “the truth” and the young believers are expected to “make the truth their own” – this is not so much about a personal relationship with God as about developing a personal conviction of the importance of belonging to this religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that belonging to their organisation is the first criteria by which a person can be saved in the coming judgement. They believe that only Jehovah’s Witnesses (only those who adhere to the religion’s rules to a satisfactory level) are going to escape God’s wrath. The level of satisfaction is to be judged by God, but the criteria as presented by the organisation are not easy ones to be met. A believer never feels he or she is good enough to be saved. Many people within the organisation suffer from feeling condemned and develop depression and other mental issues. There is a great deal of information about this on the internet in the sources standing up against the religion in recent years. A great website with very detailed information on Jehovah’s Witnesses doctrine is jwfacts.com (for Polish readers – piotrandryszczak.pl).
By the age of fifteen I had already made a good number of friends and was involved in many activities outside of the religion. I wanted to try a “normal” life that I saw my friends lead – this meant a life without any religion – which I went to pursue. This led to partying, abusing alcohol and trying drugs. Soon I started having panic attacks and was afraid of being alone. I was out of the organisation for several years, but I was not able to enjoy life outside. Although for the most part I stopped thinking about God, I was never free from feelings of fear, guilt and shame. I never felt I could fit in, even though I had many friends. Although outside I could be seen to be an outgoing and mostly cheerful person, the loneliness I felt inside was overwhelming.
New faith in Jesus – becoming a born again Christian
Since the time I started living without God I could feel that something was terribly amiss. On many occasions I wondered whether it was coming back to Jehovah’s Witnesses that could be the final answer, but I wanted to enjoy life “a little bit yet” before coming back to the rigidity of the religion. By this time I felt like I had tried everything to be happy and normal – yet nothing was working out.
One night, eight years after coming out of the organization, before going on the Underground (a train system) I was standing outside of the station and a man approached me, handed me a Christian leaflet and said: “The loneliness you feel in your heart is an empty space for God”. I did not want to talk to him or knew the significance of his words at that stage. Just a couple of days later I got involved in a conversation with my dad in which he mentioned the possibility of me coming back to the Jehovah’s Witness religion. He also told me how much Jehovah loves me and was waiting for me to come back. This was the first time in my life I realised how much I longed to be loved by God and how much I missed Him. It was a very emotional moment. After this I decided that I had to go back to the organisation.
I jumped straight into trying to be the best Jehovah’s Witness I could be. I started going out on ministry many hours per month (Jehovah’s Witnesses are supposed to report their time), attended all the meetings, broke contact with my friends etc. Soon I also started feeling a fire in my heart – of that of love for God and happiness about my salvation. I did not know that it was the Holy Spirit at this time. However, after just a few months in the religion I started realizing that something was wrong. I realized I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when I was praying at home, but at the meetings of the congregation there was a clearly different atmosphere – I felt unsettled and ostracized. Also, at this stage, I started wondering whether God is calling me to heaven as at times I felt the fire in my heart was a heavenly call. But I believed that would not be possible for me as I was a person who had previously left the religion (Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that only 144,000 chosen ones are going to heaven and the rest are going to live on a paradise earth). Soon when reading the Bible I started seeing that it seemed to be portraying a different picture than the one drawn by Jehovah’s Witnesses – especially in relation to the heavenly hope for Christians. I came to know that nowhere in the Bible was there a mention of two hopes, and that the ‘two flocks’ mentioned by Jesus (most prominent argument Jehovah’s Witnesses use to argue for ‘two hopes’) referred to the Jews and the Gentiles.
Subsequently, a simple reading of the New Testament showed me many truths that are available for any believer in the Bible but were interpreted by the Jehovah’s Witness to apply only to a select elite. Soon I started doing more research on Christianity. The beliefs held by my religion were completely off the mark in interpreting the Bible as opposed to the basic beliefs held by protestant Christians. Protestant Christian views were clearly from the Bible, but the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses needed many complicated explanations. For the most part, the latter involved assuming that the entire New Testament was not written to the current-day believer! Jehovah’s Witnesses put all the Christian denominations into one box that they call “Christendom” and wrongly assume that all of their views are very similar. I came across websites of people who were researching the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organisation’s beliefs (as mentioned earlier) and were showing using the Bible why these are incorrect. Fundamental for me was also a book by an ex-Jehovah’s Witness Governing Body member, Fred Franz – “Crisis of Conscience”. It took a number of months before I was able to leave, as I was shaken by my findings and wanted to make entirely sure I was making the right decision. My entire world seemed to fall apart and I went through a few months of an emotional breakdown, but through God’s grace I made it out after a couple of tries.
Why is it different now?
It is almost 3 years since I have left Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am now a born again Christian, who believes in the Bible as the sword of the Holy Spirit of God. Anything that is written there is for our personal benefit and we must aim to get to know its content personally. I do know that there are a number of religions, cults and sets of beliefs that aim to derail what the Bible says. It is not a book that can be understood out of its context and by a non-critical reader. It is the most important book in the world that was left for us by our loving Father and we are without excuse if we do not study it in-depth personally and instead follow the findings laid out for us by somebody else. Jehovah’s Witnesses are a dangerous cult, and, as cults are, are very prominent in twisting the truths of the Bible to fit their own agenda, even though they do this out of a sincere heart. They cloud the absolute and utmost importance of knowing and proclaiming Jesus Christ as our Lord, Saviour and King, and of bowing our knees before Him. The entire New Testament proclaims this truth clearly, yet Jehovah’s Witnesses excel in making this unclear for their believers. For example they wrongly add the name of Jehovah to the New Testament in places referring to Jesus although it appears in none of the Greek manuscripts. They also twist key verses to change their meaning. This can be seen when comparing verses from the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation of the Bible with verses from other translations and the interlinear translations. They believe the Holy Spirit is no longer in operation as He was in the first century – the gifts of tongues, prophesying, healing that we are seeing on a daily basis – they claim they come as a deception from Satan, just as the Pharisees who opposed Jesus did.
My life is completely different now. I have changed on many levels. I am born again through the Spirit and water, filled with the Holy Spirit and the love of God. My loneliness is gone, never to return. My mind is being renewed. My salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus and His sacrifice. I am now a child of God, loved and corrected – not somebody who strives without end to please a God who is silent, or who is without anybody in the world. I feel God’s love in my heart and know He communicates with me personally and not only through His word. I see God’s works everywhere I look, with some amazing testimonies of His input, including in connecting me with my wonderful husband. My journey was not and many a time is still not an easy one – but has resulted in my salvation and happiness and freedom to an extent I did not even know were possible.
Here I would like to lay out only some of the Bible verses supporting what I said above about two areas.
Matthew 8:11 shows where we are going to meet the patriarchs – not an earthly paradise as claimed by Jehovah’s Witnesses: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:11-12 shows both that we are persecuted for Jesus’ sake and that our reward is in heaven: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Hebrews 11:13-16, after listing some people of faith from the Old Testament mentions two things: that they were only temporarily on earth and that they are awaiting a heavenly hope, not an earthly one as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had the opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”
John 14:2-4 – “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-45 – “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
We are witnesses of Jesus and are supposed to call on His name and worship Him:
Acts 9:15 says it is the name of Jesus that we are to bear to the nations: ‘But the Lord said to him: “Be on your way, because this man is a chosen vessel to me to bear my name to the nations as well as to kings and the sons of Israel.”’
Acts 1:8 says that we are witnesses of Jesus and that we receive the Holy Spirit: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Galatians 1:7 – “But it is not another; only there are certain ones who are causing you trouble and wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:2 – “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
Philippians 2:9-11 – “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
1 John 5:12-13 – “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
Romans 3:21-26 clearly shows us that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ only, not through belonging to an earthly organisation: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Footnote: The Bible also indicates in Revelation 21 that there will be a new heaven and new earth, with a new city called New Jerusalem. But here the writer of this faith story simply makes a distinction between what the JW Watchtower organisation teaches about heaven and what the Bible teaches.
1 thought on “Ania’s story”
Very encouraging testimony and desperately needed to share amongst our JW friends caught in this horrific cult
I will be sending to my JW contacts