To the Edge of Death and Back
In 1996 my husband, and I moved to another state. We had already studied off and on before with Jehovah Witnesses, so we knew the very "attractive package" that they offered. Such as: everlasting life: truth in Bible knowledge: love, and what I personally found most appealing, the paradise, when all will be healed of afflictions and ailments. It was two years after moving before I came in contact with a Jehovah Witness again.
I met the most wonderful woman one day. She was very different from the "norm" of today's world. She was young, funny, warm, and genuinely thrilled to share her Bible knowledge with me, so as you can imagine, we instantly became friends. My husband and I had been staying at my sister's until we could find an apartment. My brother in-law didn't like the Witnesses coming around, so she would visit me during the day, while he was at work. After several week's of her visits, I had come to enjoy, and look forward to them. I was sick, and didn't get out much, but I'll get into that more later. When the visits stopped I wondered about it, but didn't give it too much thought.
We found an apartment, and was finally able to move out of my sister's home. After still not hearing from my new friend, I called her wanting to study, as she had offered earlier. It turned out that her mother became very Ill, and she would not be able to study with me, but she would send another sister in her stead, I agreed. It turned out that this was also a very nice woman, and we became friends. I enjoyed our studies, we talked, laughed, and discussed Bible topics, and in this casual environment I was very comfortable, and felt good to be learning about God, his purposes, and that there was much more meant for us than this world we see today.
It was October, and Halloween was coming up. I knew that they didn't celebrate holidays so I asked about Halloween. We discussed it, and I decided to not celebrate Halloween that year. I loved God, and I sure didn't want to celebrate a holiday where his arch rival ran rampant, and thereby saddening God because I would rather be "in the world" than to honor God. Needless to say my family thought it strange we didn't celebrate with them.
Christmas came, and we didn't celebrate it either. In fact, believing that God really didn't approve of us celebrating a holiday, we threw all our Christmas decorations away. Another shock to the family.
I became a very zealous student, and studied the Bible along with their publications at every opportunity. I attended every meeting I could. I wanted to be apart of God's organization, and learn the "truth," and I could only be apart of it if I became a Jehovah Witness. My desire was strong for God, so I pondered over an issue that was hard to think about.
As I said, I was sick. I had been for many years now. Let me give you a brief history of the issue at hand, and why I was so taken by the thought of being fully healed when the paradise came. Although the decision was difficult, I thought it had to be made to be apart of that paradise.
In 1985 I was in an accident. I was in a coma for three weeks, and when I woke up I could do nothing. I couldn't talk, walk, or even sit up. I had to learn everything over again. I got better, the doctors called it a miracle, but my left side remained partially paralyzed. I was just so happy to be going to public school, and all the improvements that I had made, but kids wouldn't let me keep that happiness. They tore down my confidence. I began to see myself as they saw me, a handicapped nobody. I prayed constantly to be healed.
In 1993 I was diagnosed with a blood disorder. My hemoglobin continually dropped, and I required transfusions monthly. We tried treatments, but nothing worked.
In 1997 I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my lungs, and I had to go on oxygen. They could remove it surgically, but it was a major operation. I went through with the surgery in 1998, and spent weeks in the hospital.
In 1999 I was hospitalized with diabetes. I didn't have diabetes, it turned out the high doses of steroids to treat the blood disorder caused my glucose level to skyrocket. So you can easily see how I could be so eager to be apart of the organization that promised hope. Still, to be baptized, I would have to commit myself to refraining from another transfusion. For seven years I have received monthly blood transfusions, so I knew when I would take my last transfusion, and commit to no more, I would die.
I felt so strongly at this point that this was God's visible organization, and it was through this group that God gave food to his servants at the proper time, and he didn't approve of me taking blood, even to save my own life. Blood is sacred, not to be misused, and I would have "bloodguilt" for receiving it, now that I new the truth of the matter.
I had married my high school sweetheart in 1993. Through everything, he remained by my side. He is the love of my life, and the thought of not being together much longer was sad, but thinking that he would watch me die slowly brought tears. I wasn't sure I could do that, but then my studies came back to mind, The scripture about not putting even family ahead of God. I would have to follow God's command's, and I needed to follow my conscience, "my Bible trained conscience."
It was after attending a conference that I made my decision. I would rather face a fleshly death than an eternal one. I would be rewarded with "paradise on earth" in keeping his command to abstain from blood. After all, death is just sleep, and I would wake with Jesus waking the dead, and then I would be fully healed, and I could be with my loved ones eternally, as long as they too remained faithful to the end.
That year I was baptized at a convention held in the fall. The blood transfusion I had received before the convention was going to be my last. Surprisingly, it had been several months since the transfusion. I was very sick, but I attended the meeting still, albeit in a wheelchair. It wasn't long before the elders met with me to sign a paper giving them authorization to make my medical decisions in case I couldn't. I knew my family would not honor my decision to refrain from blood if I was unconscious and dying. In reality I was dying, but I didn't think of it that way at the time. I also didn't think of how that legal document gave them a lot more power than just refusing any blood products on my behalf. At this point my hemoglobin was around four, so I really wasn't thinking.
I was taken to the hospital, and I hadn't even told my family. Well, my family did find out, and they all showed up at the hospital. I had never told anyone except my husband of my decision. So now I finally had to confront the family, witch I managed to successfully avoid. They were shocked. They knew I was studying with Jehovah Witnesses, but had no idea I had taken it this far. They fought me day in and day out. They asked me to explain why I believed blood was wrong now, and I stammered through an explanation, but it didn't sound convincing to them so they continued to fight me on the issue. They brought in Bibles to refute the scripture reasoning of the Witnesses, as in the case of Acts 15:28&29. They told me they were a cult, and nothing more. Unconvinced they were anything but "God's organization," I defended the Witnesses.
It wasn't until my hemoglobin got to 3.0 that I began to get scared. My husband was quiet and looked sad and confused as to what to do. My sister fought with any Witness who came to see me, so they gave up trying. My aunt drove up from where she lived to see me, and she brought information to refute the Witnesses. Everyone called me. My seven-year-old nephew got on the phone after having talked with my other sister and started crying, saying "I don't want you to die." That broke my heart. My dad had a long talk with me about Jesus, and he couldn't see where God would be happy by my refusal of blood. All of this combined with the fact that I really didn't want to die helped me to accept a blood transfusion.
I felt guilty afterwards, not for accepting the blood, but for being what I thought was weak, unfaithful to God, and to the other Witnesses who believed in me, and my loyalty to Jehovah. What would they say now? I knew they would probably disfellowship me.
I avoided meetings for a while after I returned home. I had to think. Where did I stand now? That paper I mentioned earlier also gave financial control, according to my family who all took turns reading it, and then proceeded to tear it to shreds. I couldn't even make a solid statement of my new beliefs, and back them up scripturally. Were they my beliefs, or was I told what to believe? Was my family just opposing me because it was the "truth," just like they said would happen, or is God trying to tell me the truth through my family? Could God be trying to tell me it's okay if I live?
My friends from the congregation did eventually come to see me, and we discussed what happened, and how to get back on "the path of truth." I didn't feel I could tell them what I was thinking or feeling, so I agreed to start attending meetings again.
Everyone at the congregation was so glad to see me, and I had already been told only the elders, and a few others new what happened so I didn't have to say anything about it. It was good to be back and apart of the congregation. Never have I been so welcomed by a group of people. That night the elders met with me in a committee meeting. They asked me questions, and not knowing where I stood, I couldn't give straight answers. I was so confused. I was reproved, and my privileges in the ministry school were taken away. They said "since I stumbled I should go back to the beginning and study until my faith returns." I did make a few meetings, but slowly I drifted away, and I became less worried about they thought of me now.
I still had questions though, and no where to go, I searched the internet, I prayed, and I searched my beliefs, and all I knew anymore was that his name was still Jehovah.
It happened that I was at a bookstore with my husband, and out of curiosity I picked up a book called Kingdom of the Cults. I looked on the list of major cults, and there was Jehovah Witnesses. I went to the chapter and started reading. It turned out that the founder of the organization was indeed no anointed saint, and therefore the religion is found on one fraudulent man, and his theories, and his beliefs had no basis. Certainly no messenger of God. Which shook the whole foundation of the organization, and it could no longer stand strong, and solid. My eyes were open, and I was, hurt, and angry. Hurt, because I was deceived into thinking their religion was the only true religion, and I changed my whole life for the love I had for God, but In reality it was nothing, It meant nothing! I didn't want to be apart of the false religion in the world, and it turned out that In fact, I was apart of a false religion. Angry, because I almost gave my life for this, as so many others have. I thanked God right then, and there for saving my life, and my stubborn, and persistent family.
I am still looking for answers as are we all, but I have a free mind now. I no longer associate with the Witnesses, and no one comes to see me anymore. Gone is the friendship I thought there was. Since I am disassociated from the Witnesses I am no longer worthy of their close-nit family. I am apart of this wicked system of things, according to their beliefs.
I hope my experience is helpful to anyone who is thinking of becoming a Witness, or is a Witness.
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