Abused by the publishers...

I was involved in the Watchtower for 10 years. A close friend introduced me to the organization at a time in my life when I was very insecure and searching for answers. I attended the Kingdom Hall, had bookshelves full of WT publications, and believed the organization to be "The Truth." As indoctrinated and sure of "the truth" as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to the point of baptism. As a single mother, I just couldn’t make all the required meetings because of my job requirements. The members of the Kingdom Hall that I attended made me feel guilty and not worthy of baptism. I was told that if I really loved Jehovah, I would give up my job to dedicate more time to the organization. I was told that there were other jobs available that would allow time for field service and meeting attendance.

During this time of struggle of trying to be a "good" Jehovah’s Witness, I met a wonderful man. I had grand thoughts of getting married, convincing this man to start studying the Watchtower, and being able to work part-time so that I could attend all the meetings. Well, the marriage only partly worked. We got married, but he would have nothing to do with the organization. As a matter of fact, a year into what I thought was a wonderful relationship, my Knight in Shining Armor who rescued me from the cold, cruel world, left me. I came home from work one day to an empty house and a "Dear Jane" letter.

To say that I was devastated is an understatement. I was suicidal. Being the emotional, insecure wreck that I was, I immediately called my JW friend and cried hysterically over the phone. I told her that my husband had left me, that I didn’t know why, and that I was a basket case.... would she PLEASE come over and help me? Her response? "When you can prove to me that you can start attending meetings on a regular basis, I will come to help you." Then she hung up. I remember staring at the dead phone in my hand and thinking, if a complete stranger had called my number by mistake in the same shape that I was in at the time, I would have helped them.... and she hung up on me because my meeting attendance was irregular? I couldn’t believe my ears!

For some reason, she decided to come over anyway. There was a knock on my door about 15 min. later and I know I looked a wreck when I answered it, my face red and swollen from crying. She stood on my front porch and said, "I just came over to tell you not to bother praying because you’re not a good enough Jehovah’s Witness and Jehovah isn’t going to listen to you anyway." Then she turned and left. I stood there in the doorway feeling completely lost and alone.

As far as I knew at that point, my husband didn’t want me and neither did Jehovah. The emotional pain was so physical that I went into my bedroom and threw myself on the floor in the fetal position. I cried out to God. "Jehovah, I’m sorry I’m not a good enough Jehovah’s Witness, but will you please help me anyway? Please take this pain away. Kill me, do something!" At that very moment, a tremendous peace came over me--a peace that flooded my entire body with warmth. All of a sudden, a thought came to me. I thought of the Christian couple who came through my line at work once a week. Every time they came in to buy groceries, they would tell me about Jesus as I checked them out. Every week I would tell them that I didn’t need their Jesus, that I was a Jehovah’s Witness. They never gave up... they witnessed to me every time I saw them in the store. I picked myself up from the floor, looked this couple’s phone number up, and called them. They came immediately to help me. They talked to me of Jesus’ love and said the sinner’s prayer with me.... no questions about meeting attendance, no judging, just unconditional love.

The very next day, I had to attend a teacher’s conference that had been set up weeks before to discuss my daughter’s progress in school. It was the last place I wanted to go, but I forced myself. I walked into the classroom and her teacher said, "Mrs. Bryant, I know that you are here to discuss Nicole’s schoolwork, but I really feel the need to tell you about Jesus." And he did.... for 45 minutes we talked about Jesus, things I had never heard as a Witness. I walked out of that classroom on a cloud, and if I had doubts the day before, they were completely gone. I was born-again! I immediately found a church that worshiped the Lord and not just talked about Him. I have since learned that religion matters not one iota, that it’s the RELATIONSHIP with Jesus that counts, regardless of what denomination you are or what building you choose to worship in.

I have dedicated my life to Jesus, not some religious organization or group of men. He is very real and walks daily with me. I am grateful that He has allowed me to know Him in such a personal way, He is my Best Friend.

To make a long story short... my husband was thrilled that I gave up the Watchtower and came home. It’s been 17 years now that we have been happily married.

Ann Bryant

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