Why I Left the Jehovah’s Witnesses
A personal testimony by a person born into the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
A Personal Testimony by Jean Eason
I was a third generation Jehovah’s Witness (JW). When I recall the days of my youth, it seems that what I heard most often was how wrong the “religionists” were in comparison to the JWs who were right about everything.
As a JW, I was concerned with works — not only doing such things as preaching from house to house, but with the things I must not do, such as celebrate holidays and birthdays. Every word written by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS) was considered “truth” that must be followed to the letter, whether it was rejecting a blood transfusion, refraining from voting, or refusing to serve in the military. To do otherwise was considered sinning against Jehovah, resulting in the possibility of losing the hope of eternal life.
I was married and had three children before I began having serious doubts about the WBTS being God’s only channel of communication. These doubts began to emerge when I had to make some very important decisions that simply went against the grain of my personality. I have in mind decisions like signing papers to let a baby die rather than take blood. You see, I had an RH factor blood condition, and in those days they transfused the baby at birth should a problem occur. I refused the procedure. Fortunately, I was spared — but I was ready and willing to let my child die! Why? Because I was convinced that the WBTS had the “truth” and should I do differently, I would lose the hope of eternal life, and so would my child, should death occur.
I developed further doubts when the WBTS got “new light” (additions or changes to what had been previously taught). On one occasion, the “new light” revealed that if you see a JW sinning and do not report the person, then you are guilty of that sin yourself. Shortly after this “new light” came, a sister in our congregation took blood when she hemorrhaged at childbirth. My options were either to report her or have the sin fall on me. Both options bothered me. But, you see, when you have no personal relationship with Jesus, you follow people blindly, trusting them to be in God’s will. Like a good JW, I reported her, and she had to appear before a disciplinary committee of elders.
This, along with other “new light,” caused me to start thinking about where and how they get their new light. I inherited a WBTS library from one of my relatives, and I began reading the older publications. I learned they had changed their interpretations of Scripture many times. I took note that the modern literature quoted often from the older publications. Now I was able to pick up the very book they quoted from — and guess what? I discovered that they often misquoted their own writings, or else took them out of context or misapplied them! After two years of research I realized I was following a supposedly infallible organization that was based upon the constantly changing opinions of men.
Experiencing the Holy Spirit
I stopped attending all JW meetings and activities, and I entered into a state of spiritual loneliness. Where could I go? I had been taught that all other religions were false. Where could I find real truth?
After a great deal of searching, I decided to try out a Christian church. My husband and I attended for a while, but we did not come to know the true person of Christ. I remained convinced that churches were of the devil. After all, I reasoned to myself, churches believe in the concepts of the Trinity, Hell fire, and the soul leaving the body at death. I didn’t believe any of those doctrines.
While I was trying desperately to sort out all these doctrines, the WBTS got “new light.” They issued a new edict that said if any JW attended a Christian church, they would be disfellowshipped. Not knowing whether I was following Satan or Jesus, I submitted to the elders when I was called to a disciplinary meeting. I agreed to stop attending church. I was just not yet ready to be disfellowshipped for something I was not sure of.
Fifteen years later, my Catholic sister-in-law shared that she was “born again.” I’d never heard of a born again Catholic! But I knew something had happened to her because I saw change in her life. She began giving up bad habits such as smoking. She was aglow with something — I didn’t know what. She spoke of prayer meetings in the Catholic Church, and she challenged me to attend one of the meetings.
I went out of curiosity. Right away, I realized this was not a typical Catholic meeting. The speaker shared the love of Jesus in such a way that I’d never heard before. It was obvious that his focus was on the personage of Jesus Christ. Oh, how I needed that message! When he finished, he asked that we stand, join hands, and sing the Lord’s Prayer.
When we did so, something very unexpected happened. Suddenly, I felt God’s liquid love pour over me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes! Without knowing what had happened, I instantly realized I had been searching for the “truth” in all the wrong places.
In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father except by Me.” Yes, Jesus is The Truth, and He “was there all the time!” No wonder a song was written by that title. The song, “He Touched Me,” came to mind. Now, I understood that also. I felt such a joy in my heart. I just wanted to rejoice, but I restrained myself, thinking people would notice a strange look on my face.
When we left, my friend said, “How did you like it?” I just started laughing. I couldn’t restrain the joy any longer!
She said, “Something happened to you, didn’t it?”
I replied, “Yes. I can’t explain it, but I feel as though I’ve been cleansed from head to toe!” I realize now that I was touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. God knew I could never find the “truth” by searching through definitions of words. I had my Watchtower blinders on. I couldn’t believe the simple gospel — I had to experience it!
Now, I understood why Paul had to be knocked from his horse to become a believer — some of us are just like that! I thought for sure my new-found joy would be gone the next morning, but it wasn’t. I woke up anxious to read the Bible and pray! As I read through the book of John, I wondered when the word, Jesus, was added to so many pages. I had never before noticed how the Scriptures focus on Him.
Making a Dangerous Promise
I got on my knees, and in the privacy of my living room, I asked Jesus to come into my life. I promised I would do anything He asked of me. Well, don’t pray that prayer if you’re not willing to be obedient. I had no idea what He had in store for me.
My husband liked the change in me, so he was willing to visit prayer meetings and, finally, even church. We were subsequently visited by two JW elders who told us we were going to be disfellowshipped. Think of that — disfellowshipped after 15 years of non-attendance! We were okay as non-attenders, until we started attending a Christian church!
My husband decided to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The next year was spent in deprogramming ourselves. We had to learn everything over. Meanwhile, we were completely ostracized by family and friends.
Then the Lord put it in my heart to write a book about my spiritual pilgrimage. After it was published, I was invited to appear on national television along with three other former JWs. Soon, all of us began receiving a ton of mail! I had not expected to go into ministry any more than I had expected to write a book — but here I was, living out the promise: “I’ll do anything!” Before I knew it, I was sharing my research and my newly learned orthodox views with hundreds of JWs and Christians who needed to help loved ones in the JWs. I became a Christian discipler over night, and discovered that my JW discipling skills came in handy.
I feel so very privileged to be called of the Lord to share Jesus with JWs who have been deceived into believing in a false Jesus whom they identify as the archangel Michael.
My husband and I continue ministering to those ensnared in the cults. We also feel a call to educate Christians about the dangers of the cults. Additionally, Christians need in-depth instruction as to why they believe what they believe. Keep in mind that Christians convert unbelievers whereas the cults convert Christians.