“Hurry and get dressed!” my mother shouted from the upstairs room.” I hope you bathed like I asked you to”.
It’s Sunday again and we were rushing to get dressed to go to the service at the Kingdom Hall. Despite all of our nightly preparations, somehow we were still running behind time.
“Come here so that I can fix your hair bow.”
My mother had a heavy hand when it came to grooming my hair so I tried to whimper very little so as to not to upset her.
“Did you pack your bag for the meeting?”
The routine for packing briefcases for the meetings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses varied and I loved my briefcase! It was a multi pocketed bag- good for holding the many publications that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses published. I put in my bag freshly printed magazines, my notepad and a new crisp bible with gold like leafing all around the edges. I would pack and repack my bag until it was perfect for the meetings.
“Yes, Ma’am! I am all packed,” I exclaimed nervously. I knew that had I not packed my bag that my mother would have been upset, yelling and would spank me for disobedience.
“Well, when your mama gets finished with your hair, you know what to do….go sit on the couch with the rest of your sisters,” my father said in a stern and deep voice. “Don’t get up until I tell you to, hear? Or you are going to get a spanking.” He hated being late. Today we would hear a traveling and mentoring speaker go over material prepared 2-3 months in advance by the headquarters. During the speaker’s last visit we were reminded that being untimely for “God’s arrangements” for the meeting would display a grossly disrespectful attitude for the hard work of the men who oversee our organization.
So my sisters and I sat on the couch in our coats waiting as my parents got dressed. My father thought that this was an awesome way to “train” my sisters and me to sit quietly at the meetings. He loved the praises of the fellow brothers and sisters who often commented on how well behaved we were. We were to sit in the chairs at the Kingdom Hall like soldiers- No talking, No playing, just listening to the information from the Governing Body and take notes. ( The Governing Body or GB” is a “body” of 7-8 religious leaders, all men, who make decisions for the eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses following them.)
In my early years, the Kingdom Hall was spiritually grounding for me. My mother and Father introduced me to God at very young age. It wasn’t until my late teens that I began to realize that the God that my parents introduced me to was the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nevertheless, I was willing soldier ready to die for what I thought were my own beliefs.
Fast Forward some 20 years later and I am in the car on my way to the hall with my husband. This time I was being summoned to the Jehovah’s Witness court system on several charges. Little did I know that God had a plan of deliverance in the works for me and this encounter would mark the beginning of my search for God. This would also awaken me to the indifference by this religion toward those suffering from mental issues.
Many say that this group is a cult but I will reserve judgment for the One who judges righteously over all. (John 5:22) It is my hope that my story testifies to the fact that there is life after leaving or being excommunicated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses ( or any highly controlled religious group). Maybe my journey will help other fellow Christians learn how to evangelize the Jehovah’s Witnesses not only with correction but through love and the healing power of God. It is also my strong desire to give a voice to these voiceless sheep who are silently suffering in the pen.