Abel – could never measure up…
I was born in December of 1965. That makes me 48 years old to date (January, 2014). As a young man growing up in the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, my faith in the teaching of the Bible by the Watchtower got rocked when I hit my teen years.
To deal with this overwhelming stress I engaged full time in the service of pioneering, as well as seeking a girlfriend for marriage.
While all of this was going on I also got baptized in 1983. Soon after I realized that no matter how many works I did, my mind and heart were really set on the works of the flesh. My dating relationships quickly ended because they were not based on love, but based on sin.
Never confessing this sin ate at me from the inside. Not even reaching my goal of conducting a Bible study every day of the week helped to fully exonerate my soul within. Little by little I lost everything that was spiritual in my life, including the idea that God would even listen to me. According to my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower, this is what I thought Proverbs 15:29 meant.
I left the Jehovah’s Witness organization some time between 17 and 19 years of age after writing a letter to the Watchtower. I remember giving my mother a hug as I walked out the front door of the house where I practically grew up. My mother fainted and as I tried to help her, my poor father, in despair and not knowing what to do, told me, “Just leave—just leave” as the tears ran down his cheeks. So I left.
That night I called my parents from a non-Witness friend’s house where I spent the night. Even though my phone call helped ease their pain, they would later go through the same thing with my younger brother and sister.
My poor father, after losing all his privileges as an elder in the congregation, humbled himself and came looking for me at my friend’s house. He told me that he was wrong in asking me to leave and asked me to come back home.
After being back home awhile, it was evident that my faith in the teachings of the Bible according to the Watchtower had turned to darkness. No longer could I be in a place where there was so much “spiritual light.” We discretely tried to keep united as a family but I just felt like I was being pushed away—today I realize I was being pulled out.
Nevertheless I left my house this time in a more acceptable manner. I, and everyone else, thought that my departure would be the very best thing. My parents hoped I would see the world and come running back.
Though I was free, that was a mistake. I was now captive to the world and all its desires. If I can give an analogy of what I went through, it was like going to the fair and every ride that was offered to me that was pleasing to my eyes I would ride. I had no self-control because my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower had wilted.
The sicker I felt after getting off one ride and the more I wanted to ride another, to the point of contemplating suicide.
On the other side of the coin, as the years passed by, my parents were now going through the same thing with my brother. I felt I had to help him so he wouldn’t go through what I was going through.
I remember praying to God and asking Him for help as I walked throughout the streets one night. A book was placed in my hands by some street distributors who had a booth set up on the sidewalk. It was Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics. I did not know this at the time, but truly the Scriptures are correct when they say, “Test all things and take from it want is good.” [I Th. 5:21]
The “science” of the book fascinated me. The chapters of the mind enticed me and showed me how to stimulate my mind and therefore brought me out of the depression I was in. It taught me how to look at things in a different perspective. I remember reading, “If you look at a room through its open door you see it in one way, but if you stand on top of the dresser looking at the door, you see the same room in a different way.”
As I literally climbed down from the dresser trying not to break my neck, I felt that my mind had been introduced to open-minded thinking for the first time, not my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower. My life started to pick up day by day as more and more I read this book. I was able to help my brother and myself, if just a little.
Almost towards the last chapters of Dianetics, it talks about how demons don’t exist and neither does God. The events I had already experienced in my young life taught me differently. I put the book down—never to be read again.
Even though God used this book to help me, I stand here today before God and tell you that for someone in search of the truth, this book is not it. (We all know what book we need to find the truth, don’t we?)
For the longest time I was longing for the companionship of my family so I decided to try to go back into the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ organization. But you cannot mock God, says Galatians 6:7, for everyone will reap what he plants.
While I was out of the organization, I married and had a child on the way. That, and with the battle of smoking and the inexperience and pressure that fathering children in a mixed marriage brings, caused me to fall out of love with my son’s mother. The pressure of divorce soon followed. This led to the agony of both my son and me not having enough time to spend together because of spitefulness.
During this time, while pioneering, I met a regular pioneer sister. We dated and were reproved for unbecoming conduct. All of this proved to be too much for me. I started drinking heavily and smoking again so I walked away from the Watchtower a second time.
The fact that I now had a son and a little more experience in life, helped me with my despair. In my second trip to the world I focused more on money and quickly learned that truly the love of money is the root of all evil [I Tim. 6:10]. I say this because the love of money trips you up and makes you a slave to it whether you become rich or not because you become addicted to it.
Five to seven years later, I felt compassion for my parents for they were growing old and with my brother out of the Watchtower and now my sister (the youngest) was also out. I gave the Watchtower another try; this way I could be close to them and help them for I saw their sorrow.
My second wife’s resistance to the organization changed to conformity to the point where she became a publisher door-to-door. Troubles, trials and tribulations in our marriage once more proved to be too much for me. I left her and the organization this time never to return ever, ever again.
For while all this was going on my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower were rocked yet again. But this time and for the first time I felt this was not because of my doing. I was older and had become more aware due to my experiences. Something didn’t feel right this time around.
I finally realized that I was not the only black sheep that had ever existed. My eyes were opened to the fact that lots and lots of lost families in the congregations were going through or had been through worse things.
Since I had learned to have an open mind I remembered reading the Watchtower magazine and it saying things that were not consistent with Scripture in many areas. This is why my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower soon withered again.
By now I was old enough to realize that religion had destroyed my family for years—not me, not my brothers, not my parents. Time passed and I met a beautiful woman that I dated for five years. I married her and have been happily in love for 11 years to date.
My wife will testify that even though I always believed in God, I didn’t want to know anything about religion. Seeing how little knowledge she has about the Bible and yet has such big godly qualities woke up in me the questions:
Could God be somewhere else aside from the organization?
Why is my wife’s family so united and loving if they don’t even know what Psalms 83:18 says?
Where is this love coming from if they hardly ever go to church?
My sister had already come back to the organization and now my brother had decided to come back recently. So I said to myself, my father is in, my mother is in, my brothers are in, all that’s left is me. What do I do?
Well, I prayed to God and decided to put my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower to the test. I thought this way because into my life came a text I had never read before that said to test the spirits [I Jn 4:1]. So I came up with the idea to just read the Bible and see where it would take me, but not the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible.
I decided to read the Catholic Bible my wife had in her son’s room. I remember praying to God asking him to show me the truth. I started to read this Good News Bible with the Deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha included which I was taught were not holy because the books in it were not written under Holy Spirit.
To my surprise I did feel the Holy Spirit of God. The introduction to this Bible admits, recognizes and points out what these books are. It asks the reader to do as he pleases, whether to read them or not. That humble statement made me want to read more.
The more I read the more my faith in the teachings of the Bible began to change for the first time in my life. I started to feel my faith growing in my relationship with Jesus. The feeling was so overwhelming I felt compelled to search for churches that would speak of Him.
I knew I would not find him in the Jehovah’s Witness organization because after a while, and after having read this in the Bible, I felt this overwhelming desire to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood [figuratively, i.e., take communion]. I did not know why I felt this; I just know that I did.
My search took me to a Church of Christ where for the first time I ate and drank of His body. I felt so at ease. So much at ease. It felt like walking into a sound barrier room and all I could hear was my voice saying “Thank you, Jesus, thank You for finding me.”
Still I felt my journey had not ended. The battle within my conscience reminded me of my faith in the teachings of the Watchtower for 48 years. I was in constant battle with what I was feeling in my soul for a month. I prayed to God for conviction and kept reading the Bible.
This past December 2013 we went to the mountains on vacation. In the heart of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, there’s a place called Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens. Throughout the whole place the theme is I Chronicles 16:11: “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.”
I felt God had spoken to me. All my life I was taught by the Watchtower that no one can ever see God. Yet I must “seek His face continually.” Intimately I remembered I had been taught that Jesus is the Image of God.
When I got back home to Miami, I diligently searched on the Internet for anything that would lead me to Christ, praying to God to show me His face. On the website, Witnesses Now for Jesus, the title Back Door to Jesus got my attention.
As I started to watch this video and read from the Scriptures, tears began to flow from my eyes. I could not even finish half way through the video when I fell to my knees, face to the ground and confessed my sins because I saw the face of Christ my Lord and my Savior staring right back at me. I knew then that He had always been with me. He had given me the conviction I needed. Blessed be His Name, God Almighty, Jesus Christ!
After I gathered myself together, that evening when my lovely wife got home, I asked her to help me find you guys [those ministering to former Jehovah’s Witnesses]. One phone call lead to many phone calls and one embrace of love led me here today [to the Make Sure Ministries Support Group meeting].
I thank the evidence through your testimonies and the witness through your testimonies about and for Jesus that I am here today. But most of all I thank You, Jesus. Glory be to Him, my Lord, my Savior, my God Almighty, Jesus Christ. Amen.
NOTE: In October of 2015, Abel told his story at the Witnesses Now for Jesus Convention in New Ringgold, Pennsylvania.