Jim's Story

– posted by meleti

[This experience was contributed by Jim, alias Jubilant Man]

“You are talking too much about Jesus. You are confusing the brothers!”

It was 2014. Here I was, age 63, a Witness since the age of 5, drawn into the “back room” by two fellow elders. I assumed some problem had arisen in the congregation that needed some discussion. There was – me!

I had been serving as an elder for over 40 years, a regular Pioneer for 30 of those, but it was obvious that a hornet’s nest had been stirred up and a swarm of their relentless stinging allegations would only intensify over the next three years (Psalm 118:12-14).

Why am I writing this synoptic account? Is it to bitterly express anger, retaliate at injustice, or proudly draw attention to myself as some special case? No, not at all; for I am just one tiny voice among tens of thousands in recent years who have escaped from different controlling, legalistic, works-based religions, particularly this one – the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather, the reason for writing these few highlights is to provide reassurance to fellow escapees that, though it can be an extremely emotional roller coaster, you can survive and do so with dignity and happiness.

Just how could a person like me have been captive for a lifetime? What factors led me to, not just turn to a new chapter in my life, but close the book of my old life and start a new one?

Some Background

First, permit me to reminisce – it’s sort of obligatory, isn’t it? Have you noticed in reading similar stories that it seems to be almost a standard requirement to provide one’s pedigree and “theocratic CV” of privileges? So, somewhat reluctantly I will follow suit.

My kind, spiritually-minded parents raised me “in the Truth” from the age of 5. Like many others of that era, I was subjected to a strict weekly “theocratic routine” of family study (Mon), meetings (Tues), ministry after school (Wed), group house meeting (Thurs), ministry (Sat), ministry and meetings (Sun). Then, Circuit Servant visits three times annually (which included Saturday night meetings). I almost left out mention of the three-day Circuit Assemblies held twice annually as well as the annual 4-to-8 days District Conventions.

I recall as a 6-year-old at the end of a school term when our class was asked to stand up in front of the school to recite short alphabetically arranged rhyming sentences. Being the 7th in the row, I was asked to display a letter “G” on a large placard and recite: “G is for God, His goodness and grace, the gift that he gave to the whole human race.” I asked my mother, “What does grace mean?” Originally having a Church of England background, she explained it means God’s free blessings through Jesus. This was my early introduction to grace. This theme kept re-entering my life at intervals, until one day God’s grace (Jesus) captured and captivated my life.

Vivid memories spring to mind of having to stand outside daily school assemblies with a handful of Jews, feeling like a cowering Peter in the courtyard trying to skirt around awkward questions; shrinking during the National Anthem played at special school events; trying to think up plausible sounding excuses for avoiding all “worldly” parties, sports or after school clubs. I remember having two so-called “worldly school friends”. Yet never once during the 12 years of basic education could they be invited to my home and only twice was I allowed to spend time with them in their home.

I was baptised in 1966 in my mid-teens. In 1960’s Britain it was the ‘done thing’ for all school-leavers to start pioneering. This was pushed at conventions with the challenging question, “Can you justify before Jehovah right now why you are not pioneering?”

Additionally, for a decade came the unrelenting, escalating emphasis on 1975, with direct statements which brought pressure to expend yourself in the very, very short time remaining. For example, a District Servant visiting our congregation in early 1974 categorically stated, “Brothers we have no more than 18 months to go before Armageddon.” Then he ominously added, “you can tell the householders from now on that that this could be their last conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses at their door!” This allowed for the householder being “not at home” for a few times during the regular annual quarterly coverage of the territory. Then he continued, “Simply offer them the 6-month Bible Study course; finish now any unproductive studies who are not attending meetings regularly.[1] So started my career of 30 years regular pioneering – at that time there was a minimum annual quota of 1200 hours and 35 “back calls” every month (reported when the Bible was used not merely a magazine delivery). Over those years, I helped over 30 people to baptism.

Then eventually in the 1970’s came marriage to a wonderful pioneer girl. Four amazing children followed. I invested much time teaching the family, making sure they abided within the Organisation’s strict parameters but with a degree of reasonableness where possible.

In fact, all the children grew up to become pioneers and elders here in the UK and overseas with their partners.

In 1974 at age 23, I was appointed as an elder and served in this capacity for the next 42 years. The best part about being an elder was not in delivering public talks locally or in the circuit but in serving others, particularly visiting the dear brothers in their homes. Eventually, I was given various assignments (so-called “privileges”) which thankfully were mostly ministry related. For example, I organised and enjoyed regularly participating in local Port Witnessing for 20 years (writing the UK Ports Witnessing Guidelines in 2005 and some years later helping to edit the GB version for use in the UK).  I conducted a number of 20-week language courses in Russian and later the Chinese language.  I received WT training in a PR media campaign which included initiating contact with journalists and local radio stations, and organising visits to every school in the circuit with Holocaust material.[2] Aside from these preaching roles in which I found quite a measure of self-expression, I was expected to supervise different departments at conventions which required implementing stringent detailed “theocratic” procedures.  Nevertheless, I attempted to carry these out with human kindness and understanding. (2 Cor 1:24)

Why a lifetime working for the Organisation?  I have thought over this question many times. Why was it that, whether having nagging doubts as a teenager or when receiving a tidal wave of “new instructions” as an elder, I was prepared to shelve any ambiguities, any uncomfortableness? Perhaps it was simply because I adopted a throwaway clichéd rationalisation that “it always remains Jehovah’s Organisation regardless. The only unchanging thing in the Truth is change! Walk in present light. Maybe things will change. Just wait on Jehovah.”

I was schooled all my life to accept no other way, everything was unequivocal, clear-cut, black and white. My Bible-trained conscience was filtered through the micro-mesh filter of the WT. I was preconditioned from childhood that we were Jehovah’s unique people; therefore, any doubts were mostly suppressed and unexpressed; a thorough objective investigation suspended. I felt reassured that no challenge to the “Truth” could successfully overturn the organization’s self-assessment that it was God’s true organisation on earth. No Satanic “weapon formed against us will have any success” because, although scriptural understandings may change, only we have the unassailable holy triad foundation of true teaching (eg. no trinity, no hellfire, God’s name elevated, Bible prophecy revealed) true love (the only united, moral, neutral, international brotherhood) and true preaching (no other religion is preaching the same kingdom message to the ends of the earth, free of constant appeals for money).

After all, I had invested so much time, effort – my very life - into this one way, and what’s more, had successfully drawn my family deep into the organisational vortex. You are kept constantly busy serving the organisation and therefore on that basis – on the premise of serving others – a sense of superficial happiness can be experienced.

Psychologists may refer to this as cognitive immunisation - the denial, rationalisation and cherry-picking of any contrary factual evidence which would otherwise create an internal conflict in a person’s mind.[3] So, all this being said, what led me to the realisation that Christ plus nothing was everything? Also, what led to that 2014 meeting in the back room and my eventual disfellowshipping in 2017? I should briefly mention six influences that gradually changed me.

Six Influences Leading to Freedom

1) WT publications:

From my early teens, having acquired a late brother’s library, I was well aware of the organisation’s eccentric ideas from reading such publications as The Finished Mystery, Millions book, the Light books, Vindication books, etc. However, I put such shallow, outlandish, dogmatic teachings in the nebulous LBWJ (“Light gets Brighter; Wait on Jehovah”) box in my mind. Not only the early teachings on pyramidology, the changing identity of the Faithful and Discreet Slave (Mt 24:45-47), the gradual diminished distorted views of Christ (as Michael, a restricted mediatorship role, an invisible presence), but also the 150-year perpetual heralding of the imminence of Armageddon – which would invariably occur within the next 3 to 9 years. All this, despite A H Macmillan’s Bethel talk in October 1914 based on Psalm 74:9 “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.” (KJV) and more importantly, Jesus own words in Acts 1:7.[4]

2) Non-Theocratic Sources:

By “non-theocratic", [5] I’m not referring t  o any exJW material. Rather, I mean a collection of different Bible translations which shed more light on certain texts and also assisted in learning the basics of biblical Hebrew and Greek. Among these were The Expanded Translation by K Wuest, the Amplified Bible and later the NET Bible. Additionally, every month I would sneak into a local evangelical bookshop – checking to see that there were no passing elders in sight – and gradually built up a small library of textbooks, including well-known authors such as C H Spurgeon, Watchman Nee, William Barclay, Derek Prince, Jerry Bridges, W Wiersbe, etc. Over the years, as a JW on a spiritual starvation program, I truly enjoyed many of their spiritual insights. It’s true that certain expressions jarred at first – “grace”, “election” “justification” or “deity”, but I would lightly gloss over such evangelical-sounding vocabulary and concepts by adjusting my “watchtower glasses” theology. Nevertheless, I was coming to clearly see the difference between the shallowness, and often unapologetic assertive dogmatism of JW writings, as starkly contrasted with the so-called “worldly”, well researched, and referenced books and articles. The “non-theocratic” textbooks were humbly willing to admit that there were no definitive answers to some questions. These written works eventually gave me the confidence to actually listen to or watch recordings of pastors like John Piper, Bob Sorge, Andrew Farley, Brennan Manning, Joseph Prince, etc.

3) Ministry Experiences:

There were certain encounters with sincere members of other religious denominations which temporarily struck discordant notes. I clearly remember extensive evangelical initiatives of the 1990s, especially the “Jesus In Me” campaign, which appropriately for me was abbreviated to the acronym JIM! This was a veritable heyday for a number of born-again Christians I encountered in the course of the house-to-house ministry who openly testified about their faith in Christ. Sometimes I was asked directly, “Have you been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, by grace alone? Have you been born again?” I would simply answer, “What a privilege it is for anyone to be born again…” and “Thus far I have been saved...”, and refer them to Matthew 24:13 and Philippians 2:13. But I knew that my answers were deviously ducking the real issue of salvation through allegiance to an organisation by works versus salvation by faith in Christ by grace alone. Such encounters left me a little discontented when simply echoing WT’s trite answers with a scripture or two plucked out of context. Putting these ministry experiences together over a period of time, it was becoming increasingly difficult to dissonantly suppress the following ‘unspoken’ conclusions starting to buzz around in my mind. It was becoming more obvious that other religious groups had certain traits, such as:

  1. Not only a relatively common usage of the name Yahweh (or Jehovah) by many pastors and clergy in both their churches and writings but their obvious love for Jesus, in a personal relationship with him as their Lord and Saviour.

  2. A humble assurance of eternal salvation, not by works but His grace alone, by faith alone.

  3. Their unadvertised genuine practical Christian love for all people unconditionally, especially the poor and sick outside their own group.

  4. Avoidance of war, religious conscientious objectors: Quakers, Unitarians, Amish, Christadelphians, Seventh-Day Adventists, Catholic Workers movement, etc.

  5. They also could relate ‘angelic-directed’ experiences in their witnessing outreach campaigns; a million or at least tens of thousands baptised annually in some religions.[6]

  6. Every year thousands of persecuted Christians killed “on account of his (Christ’s) name”, refusing to renounce their belief in Christ.

Were all these devoted scattered Christians simply frauds, unacceptable to God, doomed to destruction?

4) Authoritarian control:

Sadly, an assertive "Eight" have increasingly controlled the critical thinking – and thereby the emotions and actions – of an accepting eight million. They preside over their regimented crowd of suppressed supporters who struggle in weary loyal conformity with their unrelieved heavy loads of private guilt and inadequacy up the wrong mountain – Sinai, rather than Zion – under threat of being thrown over the edge into “shunned-apostate” valley (Heb 12:22-24; 13:12-14; Gal 4:21-5:10).

Perhaps I can provide a couple of brief examples of such control:

In 1974, shortly after smoking became a disfellowshipping offence, I had to participate on a Judicial Committee. Here was a sister struggling with serious irresolvable family problems along with clinical depression. The Committee “mercifully” allowed her the permissible 6-month period to overcome her evil “spiritistic” addiction, with the customary counsel to pray more, study more, preach more and not miss any meetings. With the Sword-of-Damocles threat of her being cut off from family and “friends”, she plunged into a spiral of deepening depression. I argued with the Committee for leniency but they would only allow a further extension of two weeks. A few weeks after the death sentence of disfellowshipping was announced, her husband sent me a private letter in which he vented his anger against such an uncompassionate, judgmental attitude which was leading to his wife’s nervous breakdown and talk of suicide. I kept this hard-hitting letter in a hidden place for more than 40 years as a reminder of how Pharisaical men feel duty-bound to enforce strict Draconian policies on suffering sheep with such a lack of natural affection, and often with dire consequences.

On a more personal level, in the late 1980s, I was taken to task by fellow elders for occasionally using encouraging background information from a few “non-theocratic” reference books. This was exploded out of all proportion and made an issue before the Circuit Overseer. During his final Sunday talk, he delivered a warning of someone “ferreting through the dustbins of Babylon the Great” in an attempt to find scraps of information when we already have been provided a banquet of spiritual food by the Faithful and Discreet Slave (FDS). Later that year the CO (circuit overseer), in response to a letter I had written to the Branch, actually apologised to me personally but refused to do so publicly. At that time, I was more taken aback by the intrigue and indignation of the local body of elders, which I was to increasingly experience in the future. One Kingdom Ministry School (Elders semester) in the early 2000s stood out particularly. The elders were all strongly counselled, in line with Amos 7:8, “Here I am putting a plumb line among my people Israel. I will no longer pardon them”.  That application was that if any elder noticed the slightest failure in fully applying the Society’s highest standards, such as laxity regarding dress and grooming, higher education, or reporting field service, it should be discussed by the elders and an approach made to that weak person as soon as possible.   We were told that “we must be willing to grasp the nettles” in a more hands-on approach.

5) Prayerful Bible Reading:

This was by far the major factor in my totally waking up to a new life in Christ. By 2010 my personal reading and study took me to the book of Romans. As I read through the early chapters, it became blindingly clear from the context that it was all about Jesus. The Father had put him centre stage and was so happy to let his dear Son take the limelight, as any proud parent would. As I continued prayerfully reading, I was moved to tears as I started to see certain passages jump off the page into my life. “This includes me!” I was flabbergasted. Everywhere in the Scriptures, there was Jesus. Had I been glossing over and misreading scriptures for decades? (John 5:39) Questions quickly came to my previously Watchtower-preconditioned mind about these scriptures in Romans:

Romans 1:17: Is righteousness a goal or a gift? (Rom 5:17)

Romans 4:3-5: God declares the “ungodly” righteous. Does this describe working hard for a year or two to attain a higher level of moral “godliness”, or conforming to a monthly hour quota for house-to-house preaching, or to answering 100 questions to qualify for baptism? (11:6) Why has the Organization avoided an adequate explanation of Romans 4:4-5 for over 50 years (Awake 1963)?

Romans 6:7: “For he who has died is freed from sin”? Is this discussing literal death and future resurrection or has the Watchtower misapplied it? (Insight 2 p. 138; w16/12 p. 9) Could this mean all true Christians NOW have no condemnation at all? (8:1)

I had known God as sovereign creator but not as my beloved Abba Father. I had known Jesus as the model but not as my personal Saviour. Where was mention or evidence of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the members of the Org? Had I been locked into a prison of cognitive dissonance, lost in religious space? This was all to change one day when Jesus found me as one of his lost sheep and carried me. I repented, accepting Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour and privately partook regularly, realising that this hope is our “common salvation” and not just for a limited higher calling of a few elite Christians (Jude 3). Later in 2015, I publicly did so as I conducted the Memorial in front of the Chinese group and my family. I had come to appreciate the powerful words of the apostle Paul,  ‘Jesus Christ and his masterful redemption define me now. Religion is like dog pooh; and it stinks, avoid stepping in it!’

So here I am, found in Christ! I was looking in the wrong place all along! My own duty and guilt-driven religious endeavour snared me in the cul-de-sac maze of self-righteousness, sponsored by the law of works! The faith of Christ reveals my identity; righteousness defines who God knows that I really am. This righteousness is sourced in God and endorses the authority of faith. (Faith is a fairy tale if Jesus is not the substance of it!” - Phil 3:8-9 Mirror Bible) You see, I came to this realisation not by investigating the wrongness of the Organisation through different websites and exJW material – as helpful as they can be at times - but by understanding by Spirit who Christ is and finding my identity in him. My salvation was not dependent on working for a religious organisation – whichever one it was – but it rested in Christ alone.

6) ExJW information:

At one stage I became aware of increasing media attention on the issue of child sexual abuse, including JWs. Previously as a devout Witness I would reject such reports as overly exaggerated journalism or from some apostate source, but here I was watching the entire proceedings of the Australia Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (ARC) for myself. I came then to discover a plethora of exJW sites and YouTube videos which I personally still don’t feel very comfortable in viewing excessively because they can easily supplant time in personal prayer and His Word. Yet this very site, Beroean Pickets, presented a more balanced and reasoned appraisal of the Watchtower Organization whilst maintaining a focus on the Christ.

My Own A to G

Without covering ground that most readers will be familiar with, as a simple memory aid, I came to have my own reduced A to G summary of matters that most perturbed me.

Abuse: Particularly sexual abuse of children and domestic abuse in its various forms. Why is any organisation allowed to obstruct justice, even passively, by failure to report abuse (including hidden records) to the “superior authorities” who bear the sword? (Rom 13:1-7) How does such non-disclosure show loving protection for their community, even where there is only one human witness? (Ge 31:49-50; Ex 2:14; Nu 5:11-15; De 22:23-29; John 8: 13-18).

Blood: Are transfusions equivalent to eating blood? They are not practically or morally equivalent. Thankfully Jesus, the one who gave his own blood for us, taught that saving life transcended obedience to religious law. (Matthew 12:11-13; Mark 2: 23-28; consider the Jewish law Pikuach Nefesh.[7]

Control: Asserting self-proclaimed authority, the FDS[8] enforced micro-management of their members lives. “Christ defines your faith; he is your freedom from anything from which the law could never free you! Find your footing in this freedom. Do not let religion trip you up again and harness you to a system of rules and obligations.” (Gal 5:1 Mirror Bible; Col 2:20-23)

Disfellowshipping: Leading to absolute shunning based on a misinterpretation and thus misapplication of a few scriptures. “Return to Jehovah” is their call.  Repent and sit at the feet of an octo-papacy in the tentacles of blind submission, even adoration, while stubbornly refusing to hear the call of the Holy Spirit to come to the feet of Christ in true worship.

Education: We know that JWs reject higher education. They are told to rely solely on “theocratic education”.  Yet at the same time, they put out the call for skilled members who have secular qualifications in building, technology, legal and financial matters.

Finances: Whereas the finger was wagged critically at various methods in “Christendom” to raise money – the use of credit cards, promissory notes, tithing, television appeals for different building programs and lack of transparency – now similar but relabelled methods have been adopted by the Watchtower organization.

Grace: Their salvation largely depends on their self-righteous works and obedience to organisational laws and policies, with the ransom being relegated to some sort of safety net for repentant offenders. Jesus has a diminished role as the Great Teacher, as Michael the archangel, and a lesser god. When was God’s free gift of Christ’s imputed righteousness explained at a meeting? (Rom 5:19; 10:1-4).

Confrontations with Elders, 2014 – 2017

Let’s now go back to the introduction when in 2014 two elders gave me strong counsel about “talking too much about Jesus Christ”.

They were concerned that I was running ahead of Jehovah’s Organisation by emphasising Christ too much rather than the name Jehovah or the organisation’s central role. The taste of grace was flavouring my public talks, frequent meetings for field service and informal visits to many brothers. Of course, the elders couldn’t stand nor understand such “Christ-centric” talk, particularly from their longest serving fellow elder on the body.

Over the next three years I was challenged by different pairs of elders and on a few occasions  “interviewed” by the whole body. By and large, the body of elders was willing to listen but it is very easy for any such body to be overly influenced by one or two policy-minded elders who in turn can be controlled by an overly righteous Circuit Overseer. It was such an honour to humbly present the message of grace from numerous scriptures to these elders although they were trapped mentally and emotionally in this confining Organisation, which sadly is one of many legalistic religions.

Then in 2016 the whole body convened again to discuss my qualifications as an Elder. They were very disturbed that I had been visiting the brothers even outside the Chinese group that I was overseeing, without the other elders been asked in advance or informed afterwards. In point of fact, by this time I had visited well over 100 brothers and sisters throughout different congregations in the city, preaching Christ by reasoning on Scripture and using simple illustrations. They asserted that by over-emphasising Jesus I was confusing the brothers! Further, it had been reported that some were becoming unsettled by discussing scriptures about the assurance of salvation. (Rom 8:35-39; Heb 10:10,14,17)

They felt as Service Overseer, I should be encouraging the brother to work harder to get God’s approval rather than talk so much about “undeserved kindness”. Thereupon, the Secretary pulled out a long list of inactive and irregular publishers from one of his files and with a flourish blamed me for the irregularity and inactivity in the congregation. This gave me an opportunity to invite the body to open their Bibles (or in their case, tablets) to read 1 Corinthians 15:10 and Acts 20:24,32 showing that “undeserved kindness” (grace) is the main motivation for our ministry and the way for us, as elders, to be built up. The reality was that as one of the regular pioneers, I was likely spending more time than many in setting the lead in the ministry. Could it be, I suggested, that the problem of irregularity was related to a lack of truly upbuilding shepherding which had often been overshadowed by emergency counselling after some crisis had arisen?

Of course, the routine test question was posed, “Do you believe that the Governing Body (GB) is the only channel for our spiritual food?”

I answered, “That presents no problem, I have always accepted all true spiritual food from the Faithful and Discreet Slave (FDS)”, knowing of course that there was never any true genuine spiritual food (manna about the real Christ) but would have accepted it, had there been.

They emphasised that it was all about loyalty to the organisational leadership and never disagreeing with them or saying anything negative. I readily agreed that absolute loyalty was due to our God and his Son but surely didn’t they agree that all other loyalty has to be “relative” – as for example, to the “superior authorities”, our parents, even elders or the organisation? (Isaiah 2:22).[9] I referred to Jonathan who disobeyed his own father, the King appointed by Jehovah, by protecting David; Elijah and many true prophets who condemned Israel for syncretising their worship, which was promoted and commanded by their “theocratically appointed” kings and priests; Obadiah, the steward of King Ahab, who secretly hid and fed 100 outcast prophets; Christians who withstood the Sanhedrin’s authority –  the recognised centralised governing collective of Jehovah’s people of that time. In addition to this, I read a paragraph from the May 15, 1986 The Watchtower (p. 25) to show that as elders we don’t desire to adopt the tactics of Christendom. The article stated: “H. G. Wells held that the spirit of Constantine dominated church affairs, and he observed: “The idea of stamping out all controversy and division, stamping out all thought, by imposing one dogmatic creed upon all believers, … is the idea of the single-handed man who feels that to work at all he must be free from opposition and criticism. … Any who expressed differing opinions or even attempted to present Scriptural proof refuting the dogmas and canons (church laws) of the councils were branded as heretics.”[10]

After waiting 45 minutes in the small back room used as a kitchen, I was called back to face the array of nine solemn faces. They told me of their predictable decision to remove me as an elder because I was unsettling the brothers with confusing speech. I replied that Jesus regularly and deliberately made confusing statements to arouse thinking ability – e.g. being born again, first will be last, rebuild the temple in three days, eat my flesh, dead bury dead, you must be perfect, hate your parents, a rich man in fiery torment, etc.; also, Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:15-16). Did they agree that we should imitate the methods of our Great Teacher to stir thinking ability?

At that point I opened my phone and played them a 3-minute clip on YouTube of GB Member Geoffrey Jackson before the Australia Royal Commission (Case 29) when he made a number of puzzling replies under oath. There was stunned silence. I waited while the uncomfortable silence continued with blank stares around the room. After almost a minute had elapsed, I continued saying, “This is the first time I have ever shown this to anyone. My issue is not with what Brother Jackson said or didn’t say, whether right or wrong, but simply over the fact that this brother, publicly and under oath, has created an obvious confusion in the minds of untold tens of thousands of loyal brothers – even among us here now – yet this brother remains as a qualified elder and even one of the GB. Yet I, who it is claimed may have confused a handful of local brothers in private conversations, am judged to be disqualified as an elder.

Regarding any so-called negative comments concerning the organisation, I reasserted that my goal has always been to positively proclaim Christ, turning their attention to Col 1:28-29 (KIT). I stated that some brothers, even elders, had from time to time in private conversations made some comments about feeling uncomfortable regarding certain recent changes such as the increasing reliance on videos in the ministry over handling a copy of the Bible itself; a few where puzzled by the  suspension of building projects; others, without prompting, had mentioned the much more direct ways of asking for financial support; there was some puzzlement regarding child abuse policies; and even the “overlapping generation” teaching. I would admit to such brothers and elders that I didn’t have all the answers to these matters either but felt it was important for any brother to be able to freely express their concerns and feelings in privacy.

After permitting me to give this spontaneous defence, I was required to leave the room again for another 45 minutes. When I was invited to go back, it was my turn to be surprised. They had reversed their decision, by a majority vote, to remove me as an elder, but with the proviso that the secretary would refer the matter in writing to the Branch for more guidance. I paused for a moment then informed them that I chose to resign as an elder and regular pioneer. This confused them, but I knew I could not continue to serve alongside them, subjecting myself to their increasing monitoring.

Over the next year, they gradually removed all so-called “privileges” including being instructed to hand over all my Bible studies and to stop emphasising Christ! They withdrew permission for me to engage in any Port Witnessing, then prayer and reading at the meetings and as I continued to visit some of the depressed and sick brothers, they told me to stop this too. No group meetings for service at our home which had been used as a frequent venue for the past 40 years. Then any attendance with the Chinese group was removed, although my wife was allowed to still be part of that arrangement. For a year I complied – almost – continuing to meet Chinese students on campus by myself, contacting seafarers online and encouraging the sick and elderly in various discreet ways.

In mid-2017 the congregation was visited not by just one CO, but two. This was no training visit, as became readily apparent from the subject of the first talk which was a reinforcement of loyalty to the Governing Body, “the ever-so faithful and discreet slave” of whom everyone is so proud. The talk concluded with the announcement “that anyone, including family members, who had heard anything that had been said negatively about the organisation in the past should report it to the elders this week, in this way showing their absolute loyalty to Jehovah and His wonderful organisation.” The witch-hunt campaign to round up and “execute” WT dissenters on the pretext of safeguarding the purity of the congregations was intensifying. It had already affected one of two others in the circuit who had already been thrown out and shunned for so-called apostasy. In subsequent months, there would be a row of five local needs talks on the subject of apostasy on the heels of more disfellowshippings.

The Judicial Hearing

Inevitably, a few months later in September, 2017, I was called to attend a judicial hearing. “Why bother?”, some may ask. Isn’t it just “throwing pearls before swine”, before men who have no authority over you? Yes, agreed.  Grace falls on the deaf ears of irritating narrow-minded legalists.  Only the Holy Spirit can open hearts. (Acts 13:38-41,52 The Power NT). I fully respect the reasons why many have refused to attend such secret “star chamber” trials.[11] Yet, I attended for four reasons:

  1. For some years, I had been concentrating on spreading the real good news of Jesus, not trying to deliberately undermine the organisation. Who could know whether a seed of grace planted at this meeting could one future day germinate in one of the three elders or the couple of witnesses (Mark 4:26-29).

  2. I didn’t want to be cut off from my family without a final effort to stay PIMO (Physically In, Mentally Out).

  3. The proceedings would undoubtedly be over in double quick time, perhaps less than an hour.

  4. I had come to rely entirely on our Lord in a new deeper way. Jesus himself faced an illegal trial as did Stephen, Paul and many others. Yes, everyone has their own path to walk and I viewed this as possibly my final opportunity to speak out as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses (1 Pet 3:14-17 Passion Translation).

Opening the door, I was faced with a four-elder Judicial Committee and then a succession of eight witnesses who testified against me for a period of over seven hours. These witnesses were confined to the main hall for the rest of that day, subjected to numerous episodes of JW.org broadcasting on a loop.  Poor souls!

The chairman of the committee was a hard-nosed ex-Bethelite sitting as chief prosecutor behind his laptop screen viewing all the witness statements and typing in additional comments during the “court proceedings”. On a few occasions, he would hand over to a witness a paper copy of their signed statement as they entered the room. In hindsight, I could have phrased some replies a little differently but the outcome would have undoubtedly been the same. Unlike a legal law court where you would have prior indication of evidence to be presented, this was a relentless kangaroo court session – a secret investigation and hearing – with the presumption of guilt. Space only allows me to give a few highlights.

My opening statement

I reassured the committee that I had no axe to grind against anyone, no bitterness, no agenda nor program to sound off about the FDS, nor was I meeting with any groups of apostates either online or locally. Rather, my purpose was to exalt Christ to his Father’s glory (Phil 2:9-11). Surely, any genuine Christian having received a new heart, a new life in Christ, naturally enthuses about his Lord Jesus Christ, wanting to declare his sure hope as based upon John 15:26-27 and Heb 10:19-23, which I read. I felt honoured to be dishonoured on basis of his name.

I posed this question to the four-man courtroom: “Imagine you were in the door-to-door ministry with Jehovah Himself and it was his door.  What would His message, His witness, be? I suggested they follow along as I read 1 John 5:9. No one would answer, so I read it again more slowly but this time verses 9-13. Blank faces, blank minds. I further mentioned that in the Revised New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures, the name Jesus outstripped mention of God 1366 versus 1339 times.[12]  Here follows just a few of the points raised as each of the six brothers (five were elders) and two sisters in turn testified against me.

Witness 1: One of the local body testified that I had shown the clip of Geoffrey Jackson the previous year and had been shepherding in others elders’ groups without their permission. He was perplexed by talk of being saved without works. I gave a brief rebuttal of these issues which included inviting the witness and the Committee to open their Bibles/tablets to Ephesians 2:8-10 and 2 Timothy 1:8-9. I was pleased to be cross-examined on these scriptures.

Witness 2: Another Elder raised exactly the same issues, adding that if the brothers started to feel certain of their salvation, what was to stop them sinning more?  There would be no restraint on their behaviour. This message could spread like gangrene!

I asked the elder if he would read Romans 6:1, 2 for us from the Revised New World Translation to see that Paul faced the same allegation. The context shows Paul arguing that all true Christians have died (placed in Christ’s death) to law and sin and have now been raised to a new “not guilty” life.  That’s why verse 7 continues “the one who has died (in Christ) has been acquitted from his sin” (vs 14, 15). Furthermore, Titus 2:11, 12 asserts that it is this very “undeserved kindness”, not more obedience to policies and principles, that “trains us” in right living. (Ro 8:9-11) The chairman at this point requested that I stop using “confusing flowery” language. (1 Co 2:14-16)

Witness 3: Another elder was worried that I didn’t emphasise the name Jehovah or the Governing Body in my preaching and prayers. Also, that over a year previously I discussed with him Psalm 139:17, 18 and happened to say as an aside, “Could it be that God’s precious thoughts are his loving thoughts about us individually, not just God’s thoughts in general?” This, he felt was running ahead of the WT explanation. I replied I was just making a possible suggestion based on the context of verses 1-6 along with Ps 40:5 and Is 43:4. It was obvious that the Committee had strung together as many bits and pieces of negative sounding evidence as possible, all from over a year or two earlier. I was already guilty in their eyes. Nevertheless, as the witnesses entered, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to use the Scriptures in front of each one.

Witness 4: An Elder, a colleague from Port ministry, raised a catalogue of accusations, starting with my passing mention of Jackson (not showing the film clip) two years previously in connection with the growing media interest in child abuse cases. Among his other peeves were that preaching with Jim was, in his words, “like preaching with no other Jehovah’s Witness.” That really uplifted me! I was castigated for “always talking about being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ; as though `Jesus was enough!’” I had even seemed to have given the impression that Jesus could receive worship – based on John 5:23; Hebrews 1:6; Revelvation 5:11-14. He also felt I had been less than generous in my praise of the RNWT back in 2013; that I had commented that a few brothers in 2015 had expressed difficulty and doubt about the “over-lapping generation” teaching – which incidentally, as I reminded him, had included this very elder! – and that I had even mentioned some brothers seemed uncomfortable over the increasing emphasis on donations – yet the building work was slowing down at the same time.

Witness 5: Another elder who added nothing new to my “apostate pot” but felt compelled to speak out in loyalty to the FDS that I was definitely drawing “too much attention to Jesus”. I responded with Hebrews 12:2 “look intently at him” and Colossians 3:4 “Christ is our life”, not just our example.

After about three hours of inquisition, while the Committee and the eight witnesses ate their fill of ordered-in pizza, I grabbed a cup of tea and adjourned from their chatting camaraderie to be alone in prayer in the washroom and praised God for the Spirit’s help.

Witness 6: This was a sister who felt her security in the organisation had been unsettled when I had previously used some scripture reference to having been saved not by works but “undeserved kindness”. Also, I had suggested she read through the book of Galatians in one sitting, even using a paraphrase Bible for a change if she wished. Immediately, the chairman asked why I would ever suggest any other Bible translation apart from our “wonderfully accurate” New World Translation which was “uniquely written by the anointed”?

Witness 7: A pioneer sister who had heard me comment that Matthew 24 was largely fulfilled on the Jewish system, including the words of Matthew 24:14. She was obviously not keeping up to date with her study of The Watchtower issues.

Witness 8: A brother I had “brought into the truth” about 20 years ago. When I visited him 18 months earlier, he felt so relieved to hear that all our sins had been placed on Christ and that we were not held guilty or to be judged anymore. I remember our discussion had been based on John 3:14-15; 5:24 and 19:30. He later reverted back to his striving for God’s approval through morality and works. The Chairman at this point accused me of being a proud person.

By this time, I was surprised to learn it was about 10:30 pm. The committee said they could not deliberate that night on any decision, and it was very late for all the witnesses. It was two nights later that I was called back to hear the very predictable verdict during which they followed formal textbook procedure. They said that I had been disfellowshipped for apostasy (no scripture used);  “had not shown sufficient repentance”. And that was it! I thanked them for giving me the joy of being dishonoured for Christ’s name and that I would continue to “sanctify the Christ as Lord in my heart … so that I am enabled to give a defence of the sure Christian hope to be with him eternally … yet with a mild temper and deep respect.” I simply stood up and walked quietly out of the room.

And my new life? For the next six months I attended the meetings, quietly sitting next to my wife in the middle of the Hall, to provide a temporary support for her and my grown family. I sat there in what I came to call my “grace bubble”, viewing my attendance somewhat like a visitor to those locked in a prison. When the Memorial arrived in the springtime of 2018, I did not attend the Kingdom Hall but visited a wonderful Christian man who had left the organisation many years ago. We celebrated communion together in his home along with a visiting pastor. I knew that by attending the Kingdom Hall any longer, it would give my wife, family and the local congregation the wrong message – that I may want to return to the stifling confines of the cult.

“Can you see how stupid it would be to start in the spirit and then for some crazy reason to switch back to DIY again! As if your own works could add anything to what God has already done in Christ.” (Gal 3:3 Mirror Bible)

I am well aware of Jesus’ words at John 16:1-3. “I have told you these things so you will not be ashamed of Me and leave Me. They will put you out of the places of worship. The time will come when anyone who kills you will think he is helping God. They will do these things to you because they do not know the Father or Me.” (NLV)

To adapt a quotation from Mark Twain “[The Organisation] is a moon, and has a dark side which [it] never shows to anybody.” (The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg)[13] Yet I feel no bitterness or need to consume excessive time and emotional energy in hitting back in anger but rather a deep feeling of pity for the many individuals captive in the cult, especially my family and so-called  “old friends” who have shunned me over the past year. In fact, in regard to my family, I feel as the father that I am setting a correct, firm spiritual lead for them in leaving behind authoritarian religion and showing how Jesus is the real joy of my purposeful new life.

Were all those years wasted years? In one sense yes, but in another sense, it has been a positive journey – from darkness to the brilliant light of Christ for all eternity. (Ga 1:14-17; Is 49:4)

I continue to humbly learn many lessons, actively yielding to His leading. Now I enjoy my freedom in Christ! Every day I “keep on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Pe 3:18) For example, most mornings after prayerful worship and study of Scripture, I spend some time writing. To my surprise an e-book came together which I published in 2018 – a good way of celebrating a year of freedom! It is called Lost in Grace[14] which isn’t so much into “Witness bashing” as it is my experience as a Christian from being lost in religion to being lost in wonder at God’s grace. I am filled with gratitude for what Christ has done for me and in me.

As I saw the inevitability of disfellowshipping looming, I made a definite decision to make time every day to interact socially with others, face to face wherever possible, or otherwise online. My training over the years in conversing with new people, including those of the Chinese community and dozens of previous contacts with seafarers, would continue and indeed has accelerated – without “counting time”- ha-ha! The irony is that now my contact list of friends equals or exceeds the number I had as a regular pioneer! It has been a “privilege”, in the true sense of the word, to reach out to people, especially those who may be regarded as down and out, feeling despondent, even suicidal in a few cases. John 9:34-38 describes Jesus finding a shunned ostracised disfellowshipped person to strengthen him; so it is in the spirit of Christ to reach out to help fellow shunned ones. More recently I have had some fellowship with Christian worshipers too, which on more than one occasion has led to giving my personal testimony and prayer before a small congregation.

On a practical level, I decided not to act hastily, either by immediately jumping headlong into another controlling legalistic religion or falling into disbelief. It is this very reticence to make hasty decisions that posed me the problem whether to write and post this very story you are reading. One evening in prayer I asked the Father to give me some reassurance that I was about to do the right thing. The outstanding example of the apostle Paul came to the forefront of my mind. Three times he related his conversion story – from rigid, zealous service to a strict religious system to seeing the glorious reality of Jesus (Acts chapters 9, 22 and 26). Perhaps my humble attempt to recount my conversion could perhaps help an individual or two on their way to true freedom.

I hope these few comments help you to never lose hope but to rest in Christ and his unconditional love and joy. These words give me reassurance: “I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all – oh, how well I remember – the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God.” Lamentation 3:19-26, The Message Bible



[1] Aw 1969 May 22, “If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things.” – also The Watchtower 1969, May 15, p. 312; regarding the date 1975 see The Watchtower 1970 May 1, p. 273.

[2] This special program included organising a group of elders from the circuit to visit to all schools and education facilities in the large catchment area with the video Jehovah’s Witnesses Stand Firm Against Nazi Assault along with its study guide and lesson plans that teachers could use during annual holocaust remembrances.

[3] After all, such opposing information could call into question one’s good judgment, or the organisation’s self-image and reputation – all of which is to be protected at all costs. Consequently, such a person or group would be unlikely to admit they are wrong. In fact, any exposure to contrary information makes them even more committed to their bias, because they feel vindicated by such attacks as victims of persecution. They become immunized against any public exposé, choosing not to listen to any contrary views.




[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Jehovah%27s_Witnesses#cite_ref-24


[5] As far as I am aware this term was used for the first time in Theocratic Aid to Kingdom Publishers 1946, p. 220-224 which put such publications in a relatively positive light.

[6] An example of a religion that conforms to the above criteria of adopting the name Yahweh, non-trinitarian, internationally preaching, conscientious objectors, would be the Assemblies of Yahweh. (Encyclopedia of American Religions,5th Edition, by J. Gordon Melton, (Gale Group, 1996), p. 529)

[7] https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pikuach-nefesh

[8] On what basis did Jesus choose this organisation as his organisation (FDS) when the spiritual food produced from 1917 to 1919 was focused entirely on the book The Finished Mystery? This is a crazy book which the Watchtower never quotes from. https://youtu.be/kxjrWGhNrKs

[9] The Watchtower, 1990, Nov 1, p. 26 par. 16, “Our Relative Subjection to the Superior Authorities: “As Christians, we face up to similar challenges today. We cannot take part in any modern version of idolatry—be it worshipful gestures toward an image or symbol or the imputing of salvation to a person or an organization. (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21)” Also note The Watchtower, April 1, 1920, p. 100 “We would not refuse to treat one as a brother because he did not believe the Society is the Lord’s channel. If others see it a different way, that is their privilege. There should be full liberty of conscience.”

[10] Also Awake! 1999 Jan. 8, p. 6: “Those daring to question the established orthodoxy, the monopoly of dogma, were branded as heretics and tracked down in the witch-hunt climate of the time.” The Watchtower, 2016, Sept p. 26 “Many ancient writers flattered their leaders and glorified their kingdoms. Jehovah’s prophets, however, always spoke the truth. They were willing to point out the shortcomings of their own people, even their kings. (2 Chron. 16:9, 10; 24:18-22) And they made plain their own failings and those of other servants of God. (2 Sam. 12:1-14; Mark 14:50)”

[11] https://rightsinfo.org/secret-trials-what-are-they-do-they-violate-human-rights/

[12] In Colossians (RNWT) God is referred to directly or indirectly 38 times whereas Christ - 60 times.

[13] https://study.com/academy/lesson/mark-twains-the-man-that-corrupted-hadleyburg-summary-analysis.html

[14] https://www.books2read.com/u/mgLPdq

Archived Comments

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  • Comment by Andrew on 2018-11-29 17:33:33

    What an incredible story. It is stories such as this that help others cope with their own unique set of circumstances. Thank your for sharing this. It gives me hope that many others will have the courage to speak the truth without fear. No doubt Christ is pleased when he sees his followers show such courage. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

    "The truth is inside of us, and it’s wonderful when we have the courage to tell it." - Fred Rogers.

  • Comment by I am just me on 2018-11-29 18:00:25

    What they ordered pizza while they thought they were putting you to death!!!! Pizza !! Pizza !! during the judicial who was on the committee the Mario brothers!!! Enjoy your freedom my brother. Sending you love

  • Comment by Rufus on 2018-11-29 18:25:58

    Thank you, Jim, for this well told saga. The first thing I did in appreciation was buy your book, linked to in footnote 14.

    You beautifully answered the question "where will we go" with the correct scriptural answer - it is to whom, the answer being the Christ. You also gave a brilliant answer to those who claim God's needs an organization on Earth besides the anointed Christian congregation of Christ's brothers, adopted as children of God through faith.

    Galatians is a wonderful read-through to put it all in the proper context of faith over rules and laws.

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-11-30 00:59:11

    With respect to everyone, what I am about to say might upset someone, especially you JIM:

    When I read your story, I couldn’t help but to notice that you were etching for a showdown with the elders, as it was bound to happen sooner or later, I mean think about it 100 brothers and sisters you visited and you thought no one will tell the elders about you? “In the abundance of words there is bound to be transgression”.
    Can you see something unusual in this paragraph that you wrote?
    When the Memorial arrived in the springtime of 2018, I did not attend the Kingdom Hall but visited a wonderful Christian man who had left the organisation many years ago. We celebrated communion together in his home along with a visiting pastor. I knew that by attending the Kingdom Hall any longer, it would give my wife, family and the local congregation the wrong message – that I may want to return to the stifling confines of the cult.

    Ask yourself JIM: Would Jesus celebrate the memorial with a pastor, whose beliefs MAYBE are different from his? Has the pastor left his church with all the mambos and jumbos happening in his church like you have?
    Has the pastor had a showdown concerning the teachings of his church like you have JIM?

    The most important date among JW’s is the memorial and you decide to make a statement by not attending with your family, couldn’t you pick another time to meet with the 2 -same evening- and be sitting with your family?

    Just listen to yourself JIM:
    To my surprise an e-book came together which I published in 2018 – a good way of celebrating a year of freedom! It is called Lost in Grace[14] which isn’t so much into “Witness bashing” as it is my experience as a Christian from being lost in religion to being lost in wonder at God’s grace. I am filled with gratitude for what Christ has done for me and in me.

    How many books did Jesus write from age of 12 - 29CE telling his life story so he can help others break free from false religion / Cult.

    Finally this comment about your life:

    After all, I had invested so much time, effort – my very life – into this one way, and what’s more, had successfully drawn my family deep into the organisational vortex. You are kept constantly busy serving the organisation and therefore on that basis – on the premise of serving others – a sense of superficial happiness can be experienced.

    Well i really hope you have found your happiness, as I can read between the lines your family is NOT happy with you.

    I know I am going to draw a lot of criticism from the members but I cannot see the sense of destroying ones family for my own self importance.

    See you on Monday my brothers.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2018-11-30 09:19:10

      In Jim's defence, JamesBrown, I understand the problem of attending the JW memorial. If one goes and partakes, one is implying that the JW understanding is correct: that only some few elite ones are chosen to partake. If one goes and does not partake, one is publicly rejecting the symbols of the life-saving ransom and in so doing, supporting the JW theology that the majority should not partake. The only way to not support the JW theology is to not attend at all. That this may prove traumatic to one's "believing" family members is beside the point. In such matters, our loyalty to the Christ supersedes all other considerations. I believe that is what Matthew 10:32-39 calls for.

      As for the question of the pastor, it is best not to pass judgment before we have all the facts.

    • Reply by Warp Speed on 2018-11-30 09:25:16

      Hello JB,

      From your post I get the feeling that your conclusion is to stay in the cult and hope for the best.

      The rock group The Cars had a song with lyrics that say, " It takes a fast car baby- to lead a double life".

      Don't get me wrong, I completely understand that everyone "wakes up" at different times and ways. Having said that, how long can a person go through the motions of going to meetings just to satisfy other family members or long-time friends after we have seen the utter falsehood of the Org? Having discerned the "real truth" about Christ, how long does it take before before going to the meetings starts to devour our very soul and poison us so bad that the only thing left is to manifest anger at the very thing (Org) that we are "outwardly" defending?

      I am painfully aware that it's not easy to break ties with the Org, especially when our immediate family is involved.( As a side-note, I am very close to sharing my story like Jim did, if anyone wants to hear it, and if Eric would green-light it)

      A scripture I have meditated on intensely is John 4:24. I asked myself, "How can I truly worship God with spirit and truth while being a total hypocrite, if not overtly defending the Org, at least tacitly approving of it by living a lie?"
      Everyone must come to this decision by themselves. (Galatians 6:5)

      As I mentioned at the outset, with The Cars' song in mind, my question to you my dear brother JB is- "How fast is your car?"

      With loving regard,

      Warp Speed

      • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2018-11-30 09:29:07

        Hi Warp Speed,

        Please send me your story when you're ready. Many find these accounts encouraging and faith-strengthening. Mail to: meleti.vivlon@gmail.com

        Meleti (aka Eric)

      • Reply by MarthaMartha on 2018-12-04 09:41:34

        Great comments WS and I came to the same conclusions. At the same time I understand why some choose to continue undercover as it were, and if they can do that and not suffer the anger and frustration that we have done..good for them. Well as you say, everyone makes their own decision.
        I look forward to reading your story some day.?

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2018-11-30 09:25:53

      I should also add that when one breaks with JW doctrine, a common accusation is that one is acting out of pride. (I was accused of being self-willed; essentially for not being willing to submit to the will of men.)

      Jesus told his disciples to bear witness about him, so he didn't need to write about himself. Others would do that for him, and four did that we know of. How thankful we are for that. On the other hand, Paul wrote about his own story, not to exalt himself, but to bear witness to the grace of God upon one who was "the least of the apostles".

  • Comment by Leonardo Josephus on 2018-11-30 03:35:31

    That was some story, Jim. Parts of what you say is similar to what many of us are going through.
    I do not have the command of scriptures that you seemed to be aware of at the judicial hearing. What a defence ! Even with preparation I could not recall those thoughts. Your article will certainly get me looking at Galatians and Romans again.
    Maybe some of those elders will recall what you said and will think about it.

    I agree, it is disturbing to call on people who express so positively their relationship with Jesus Christ. That is something to focus on and consider individually, as there must be something in that.

    There is no right way to go when we realise we have been misled. All sorts of feelings of anger and resentment come up, as well as pity. We all have to deal with this, depending on our circumstances, and what we can cope with.

    Hardly anyone will spend so long as a JW (as a pioneer or elder or otherwise) without wanting to be the sort of person that Jesus and his father approve.

    Thanks again Jim

  • Comment by Jabez on 2018-11-30 13:03:22

    Thank you for your story Jim ,many of us can identify with it .Hebrews 13:13 tells us we must go to him outside the camp and bear the reproch he bore .Quite honestly Jesus is not in the JW camp they refuse to Honour The Son .Jim Love and Grace to you and all that are yours.

  • Comment by eve04 on 2018-11-30 13:13:51

    I thoroughly enjoyed your experience/testimony. I would like to say thank you to all that have awakened and willing to tell your experiences. I would love to hear Warp Speeds.

    I saw nothing in this experience of self- importance but an individual that has truly been rescued by the GRACE of God. I like the point Meleti brought out. Our loyalty is to the CHRIST!
    I appreciate Jim how you were able to reason from the scriptures and their bold resistance to scripture was truly scary and then to have a trial with witnesses I have never heard of such. Truly a darker side indeed.

    May Jehovah and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior continue to bless you! It's always so pleasant to hear what the dear brothers are doing since leaving this organization.

  • Comment by Justin Michesloff on 2018-12-01 16:55:25

    Judy, well written and loving response.
    Jim, keep up the good work.
    Warp Speed, nice upbuilding comment, look forward to your experience.
    Jamesbrown, such venom...sad. I doubt Jesus would have responded like that.

    We all need to be encouraged and "witnessing" the path of other like minded ones who have awakened can help us to steel ourselves for the tough road any exiters will travel.

    I'm reminded of the words of a famous Canadian rock band: "You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice"

    The organization serves as a ready guide and certainly claims a celestial voice, and if you think that living a status-quo life not rocking the boat is the best way for you, so be it. But this is tantamount to choosing not to decide, which is actually a choice.

    The song continued: "You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill. I will choose a path that's clear, I will choose free will."

    The organization through it's rules and laws has created phantom fears by interjecting themselves into the members spirituality, and there is a certain "kindness" that can kill that many of us have experienced.

    What we all need to do though is to choose a path that is clear thanks to our Saviour Jesus Christ and the Grace of God, this is free will!!

    Please don't "Rush" to judge me for this...

    Grace and Peace to all.

    • Reply by Warp Speed on 2018-12-01 17:32:35

      You made my day Justin?

      Neil Peart could write some good lyrics, and he's no slouch on the drum kit either.

  • Comment by Judy on 2018-11-30 17:28:16

    Hello JIM and all.

    Reading your story and the various comments below has moved me to contribute a few thoughts too as it's interesting seeing the different reactions to the story. Firstly I'd like to say how much I enjoyed hearing the joy in your words JIM as you learned of the good news of the Christ. How upbuilding and positive! I was very encouraged by your enthusiasm and joy. Some of the comments below do raise relevant questions about whether we should be sharing such a precious communion meal with those who support a false religion. It's interesting seeing the difference though in the tone of Warp Speed and that of James Brown. The genuineness of your words Warp Speed is obvious and I share your viewpoint but the tone of your post James Brown is contentious which I'm sure you'd agree is not in line with Christian love. Your opening words pretty much tell a reader that this is your intention - to be contentious so I find that discouraging. In reality, what you accuse JIM of doing with the elders is what you're doing in your post - creating a confrontation. How funny is that? ?

    After leaving the org. myself (along with my husband) in 2015, I've seen how the holy spirit moulds a person in the journey beyond leaving (if we allow ourselves to be moulded that is.) In the three years since leaving, I've made many, many adjustments in my thinking and speech and actions as I shed the old thinking of the organisation. There's so much to learn after leaving as we receive loving discipline from our father and his son by means of the holy spirit. I'm sure that JIM will continue to look to our Lord for direction and I'm certain his viewpoints will be refined as he does so, as all of us who are following our Lord are experiencing. The learning and the guiding continues doesn't it? It's just like any training of children by a loving parent. We shouldn't be wanting to be contentious when someone is enthusiastic. I know that when I left I was soooo keen to tell everyone about the good news and expected everyone to feel the way I did. It's been confronting to find that the same criticism I experienced while in the organisation was expressed by those who'd left. I truly believed that everyone who left the organisation did so for the same reason as I did and would delight in becoming a son or daughter of God and a brother or sister of Christ and share my joy. Sadly, that's not the case.

    In regard to the issue of our attendance at the Kingdom Hall, I just LOVE the words of 2 COR 6:14-18. It still brings a tear to my eye when I read verse 18. It's taken a long time to really feel like a daughter rather than a slave. I loved being a slave for Jehovah and was comfortable slaving for him but now with the help of the holy spirit and the beautiful words of the New Testament, I truly feel loved as a daughter. This promise is given to those who stop touching what is unclean. Jesus told us that 'anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross (it still feels weird writing that word 'cross'. I haven't quite overcome that one yet. lol) and follow me is not worthy of me." The situation is very clear but ..... some need time to build up their faith to do what Jesus said and I guess this is where we can encourage others - we can help them build up their faith and support them in doing what they know they need to do. The blessings that come for choosing to follow Christ and leaving the filth behind are soooo worth it! Paul's words are wonderful in this regard at PHIL 3:7-10, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things......"

    I would love to hear your story Warp Speed. You have encouraged me to think about telling mine as it is an interesting one. I truly appreciate reading comments from those who clearly love their God and our Lord Jesus and their brothers and sisters in Christ too. ?

  • Comment by lazarus on 2018-11-30 22:58:41

    Thanks Jim,

    1 Timothy 6:12.“Fight the good fight”

    1 Corinthians 15:10, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

  • Comment by Truth-Seeker on 2018-12-01 08:39:21

    Jim, you are my man! You have an excellent 'military' background. You have profound experience in the 'sufferings of the Christ' and are able to come to the assistance of the oppressed. You are qualified for sainthood, but I'm sure you give no thought to this. Yes, what you experienced was not all in vain, on the contrary. You made the best out of your circummstances. Would you have been better off being raised as a zealous Catholic? I doubt it. In my opinion, you made all the right decisions and have maintained the only correct attitude. Thank you for writing of your experiences. Yes, that was a right decision, too! Heartfelt thanks, also, to Meleti for sustaining this excellent forum!

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-02 21:12:58

    Good morning to you all from Sydney, Australia,

    Judy, well written and loving response.
    Jim, keep up the good work.
    Warp Speed, nice upbuilding comment, look forward to your experience.
    Jamesbrown, such venom…sad. I doubt Jesus would have responded like that.

    Eric, please tell me or refresh my memory as to why did you remain JW until the passing of your dear wife?

    I can only guess out of respect for her and what she might have to go through in her senior years, I don’t know I am just guessing that she remained JW to her last breath, but then again, I seem to be driving a slooooooow car and full of venom.

    Jesus remained subject to his family and temple leaders until he was ready to get baptised. My question to you ALL, why?

    Was he so blind to see all the corruption that was going on in the temple, and how about his slooooooow THINKING brothers that were full of venom, to say he has gone out of his mind, in other words he is stupid even think he was the Son of God.

    He was a perfect carpenter, he could have moved out and still managed to support his mother and his venom's and slooooooow thinking brothers and sisters.

    Wisdom is proved righteous by its works, and what was the result of him staying and NOT leaving? We all know who became his disciples, was it because of his fine conduct toward his family, or perhaps his FAST car "words" when he said to his brothers “your time is anytime, my time is not yet”. Venomous reply? It all depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on.

    Well enough of all of this let’s get down to the netty and gritty of all who feel they need to be isolated like Jim Fielder the author of a lovely book called “Lost in Grace”.

    How close are you to your sons and daughter’s in-law Jim Fielder and also your wife since you decided to leave?

    So, what’s the next step Jim Fielder, divorce???? After all your wife doesn’t share your beliefs and from what I understand your children have got married and left home and they dont share your beliefs the only one who is left is your wife who again doesn’t share your beliefs. So Jim Fielder what else do you two have in common????

    Its great to leave JW’s as a united family…… But to leave on your own, think of what lays ahead. An Italian saying “measure a garment 7 times before you cut it ONCE”.

    I think I am becoming a SOFTY, well it all depends which side of the fence you are sitting on.

    Looking forward to hearing from you all, especially from Jim Fielder and those who want to leave the JW’s cult this week and in the words of a lovely member:

    Please don’t “Rush” to judge me for this…
    Grace and Peace to all.

    PS: I drive a very fast car GT-Ford Mustang. But I am always considerate of other Slooooower driver’s, it’s a lesson I learnt from Jesus, it’s called patience, but then again it all depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on.

    • Reply by lazarus on 2018-12-04 15:32:44

      Howdy James Brown,
      From your first comment you were expecting to receive some criticism at least. Ok is that a fair assessment. Why? Well you “dished out” Your views which were below the belt. So, like an old “Sydney CO” once said if your prepared to dish out you must be prepared to “cop it”.
      I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to Timothy.

      2 Timothy 2:24-26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

      24 The servant of the Lord must not participate in quarrels, but must be kind to everyone [even-tempered, preserving peace, and he must be], skilled in teaching, patient and tolerant when wronged. 25 He must correct those who are in opposition with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and be led to the knowledge of the truth [accurately understanding and welcoming it], 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.“

      A slave of the Lord need not be quarrelsome.

      Take care- no offence- besides your from Sydney. Tough as they come.

    • Reply by Yehorakam on 2018-12-23 21:34:22

      Hi JamesBrown. I just read this article and the comments. I'm not sure if you are new to this site, but the comments that are appreciated most are expressions of faith, not criticism of others personal decisions. Surely you must be aware that a future date we will all stand before the judgement of God for whatever decisions we have made. (Romans 14 would be good reading at a time like this) That judgment will be carried out by Christ. It shows respect for Christ when we refrain from doing something he has not yet done: judge. In one of your comments, you say 'you can only guess why Eric 'left' only after his wife fell asleep in death...and then jump into all sorts of speculation. Have you thought that your assumptions and speculations could be all wrong? Especially when you don't know personal details, you should avoid making assumptions or criticism of others personal decisions. Would you appreciate others criticizing your personal decisions without knowing your personal circumstances and reasons? Certainly not. In fact, you may have already suffered on occasion when others in your congregation judged you without knowing all the details. By your comments to Jim, you are perpetuating that bad habit. I can see you have also apologized for the comment. That was good. Perhaps you already realize that the imperfect human foot has an affinity to the mouth. Wisdom and maturity hold it back.
      Certainly we want to hear personal comments. You are even welcome to explain why you have stayed in the Cong. to keep the peace, etc...and I think most including myself would respect your personal decision even if it wouldn't be the same as mine. But please refrain from making assumptions on others personal situations, imposing your conscience or judgmentally criticizing their personal decisions. That is certainly one of the things we hoped to have left behind in the organization.
      I hope my comment will not discourage you from commenting, but rather stimulate you to be more kind and respectful with future comments.
      Much love,

  • Comment by lost in space on 2018-12-04 02:36:56

    Wow Jim, what an account of your journey as a Christian. The effort and much time you took to write this is so appreciated. Thankyou for sharing your life testimony with us. The Greek scriptures come alive when Jesus is rightfully given proper place as central to our faith. Would so love to meet you and continue to hear your bearing witness to the truth. Melbourne Australia though?

  • Comment by MarthaMartha on 2018-12-04 09:34:27

    Hello Jim,
    What a great story! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for the time and effort you've put into writing it.
    I too was raised as a JW and was 55 before I started on the path to freedom. So many of us have gone through similar experiences on the way out... And we all make our own decisions about how and when we will take certain steps along the way. The comments alone show that we all have different circumstances. In my case, I have stopped attending meetings, but my husband continues for his own personal reasons for now, even though we're of one mind in our opinions on the organisation.
    We came to the conclusion that we have to be true to ourselves, and we don't judge each other. It's a huge step to make after a lifetime of believing. I think it's like deciding to leap off a high rock into a deep pool.... I'd like to make the decision when to jump and not be pushed.
    We are in England too... Maybe one day we'll meet and swap experiences. I hope your family joins you in time.

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-04 19:14:16

    Maratha Maratha Maratha

    I missed you, I was thinking about you the other day, that your comments about Jim was missing and I was hoping that all was well with you and your husband.

    You said:
    "The comments alone show that we all have different circumstances. In my case, I have stopped attending meetings, but my husband continues for his own personal reasons for now, even though we’re of one mind in our opinions on the organisation.

    We came to the conclusion that we have to be true to ourselves, and we don’t judge each other. It’s a huge step to make after a lifetime of believing. I think it’s like deciding to leap off a high rock into a deep pool…. I’d like to make the decision when to jump and not be pushed."

    Well said and I appreciate your story and what you both went through.

    I wished I had this kind of marriage.

    Again I loved your comments and please dont stop commenting.

    Take care my sister

    • Reply by MarthaMartha on 2018-12-05 06:33:58

      Thank you JB, for thinking of me and for your kind comments.
      Yes, my husband and I are very aware of how blessed we are to be united and still strong as a couple after the trauma of waking up. We had a couple of years of frank and sometimes explosive conversations, but thankfully we are a team and although we may decide on different methods of facing problematic situations, we are always in love with each other and won’t let anything get between us. Soppy but true!
      In fact, things are much better now I stay home from the meetings. At first it was really difficult for me, I felt like I was letting him down. But it was impossible to continue because the frustration was making me ill. So in time we got used to our new situation. He goes to support his elderly widowed mother, and comes home to a happy, calm wife instead of us driving home with me ranting and raging!
      I read my Bible, or listen to the recording of the beroean meeting, and I’m the one with more to discuss when he comes home. ?
      So yes, we’re very lucky, and I wish for all of those here on Beroeans to have the same experience.
      We have to be true to ourselves, but it’s much easier if you have support from your nearest and dearest. I salute all of you that wake up alone and wish you peace and love.
      Your sister

      • Reply by Leonardo Josephus on 2018-12-05 09:29:04

        MM, good to hear from you again. We (my wife and I) are similarly reaching the same conclusions together. Sadly, the lack of social structure, not that there is a lot, outside the congregation in both our lives, holds us back. That, and a small number of more immediate family members being in. The time will come when Jesus takes our hands and helps us out, at least that is what I hope. Mind you, he did say the wheat and the weeds must grow together until the harvest.
        We shall see.
        Love to all on this site. Be brave.

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-05 00:57:34

    I had an interesting talk with one of our older elders about 1914 and overlapping generation, well he puts it this way:

    Who carers and does it matter.

    I have heard these expressions from another source but coming from him???

    He said lets face the facts was Jesus concerned about 1914 or overlapping generation? No.

    He said GB can say what they want to say and their are people that dont believe what GB is saying, does anyone care?..... Again I was shocked to hear him say "this is not the religion I once new".

    1914, 607,1919, generation,.... who cares....

    Before we finished the conversation he said GB will be here another 100 years and keep making billions, just remember, Jehovah is to be worshipped, and everything else is in Jesus hands, so dont believe everything you read or hear.

    Russell wore a cross and believed in many teaching that GB dont. Where is he NOW

    Who cares and does it matter

    • Reply by Leonardo Josephus on 2018-12-05 06:08:49

      Of course it matters. Ask him what would happen if the GB said what he said. Under other circumstances I would have used language inappropriate for this site, and which I have not used for over 45 years.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2018-12-05 07:50:08

      This elder is working on the premise that all JWs seem to depend on, theirs is the one true religion on earth. Period. So, Yes, the UN affiliation was a mistake. Yes, the handling of child abuse leaves something to be desired. Yes, some of our doctrines are false. But none of that matters because we have the true religion. I'm reminded of a comedic scene from A New Leaf.

      No matter what the proof that this is not the true religion, we must stick to it because it is the true religion.

      The religion is already making demands on them that radically affect their life, let alone their relationship with the Christ. I expect these demands will only increase. The governing body of Israel made many onerous demands on the Jews in the days of Jesus, but eventually, they demanded and got the ultimate compliant obedience when they persuaded the crowds to demand Pilate execute our Lord.

    • Reply by Bernardbooks on 2018-12-05 08:56:44

      w19 March Study Edition
      Article: Listen to Jehovah’s Voice

      Preview: Today, Jehovah speaks to us by means of his written Word, which includes the teachings of Jesus, as well as by means of his organization.

      p.13 paragraph 17
      17. Jehovah is still speaking to us today. (Read Isaiah 30:21.) True, we do not hear God speak to us from heaven. He has, however, provided his written Word, the Bible, in which he gives us instruction. Additionally, Jehovah’s spirit moves “the faithful steward” to keep giving His servants their food supply.

      If Jehovah were actually speaking through an individual like he did with Ezekiel or a group like the Governing Body claim then it does matter to listen but that would mean no falsehood or lies would ever be found in anything spoken as coming from Jehovah.
      I think it does matter in either situation because we need to choose whether to listen or refuse to listen.

      (Titus 1:2)
      God, who cannot lie

      (1 John 1:5)
      This is the message that we heard from him and are announcing to you: God is light,and there is no darkness at all in him.

      (1 John 2:21)
      I write you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie originates with the truth.

      As for the claim in the latest magazine above I can’t help but think of the following scripture.

      (Ezekiel 13:7, 22)
      Is it not a false vision that you have seen and A LIE that you have foretold when you say, ‘The word of Jehovah is,’ when I have not said anything?

      For you have disheartened the righteous one with your falsehood when I was not causing him distress

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-06 00:25:03

    Dearest all,

    I would like to take this opportunity to apologise TO you all and especially to Jim, I was lashing out at myself as it was pointed out to me, I love you all for your understanding.

    You are right, it does matter what we think, it mattered to Jesus how his apostles thought and cared about him and the religious leaders and each other.

    I asked my wife this morning about what she thought of 1John 5:16 If anyone catches sight of his brother committing a sin that does not incur death, he will ask, and God will give life to him, yes, to those not committing sin that incurs death. There is a sin that does incur death. It is concerning that sin that I do not tell him to make request. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and yet there is a sin that does not incur death.

    My question to her was the term "anyone" who does that refer to? Immediately she said the elders, you can talk to the person and then inform the elders so the congregation is clean.

    So I asked "anyone" means to you elders in the congregation, her answer YES, how else will the congregation be kept clean? But John is not mentioning ELDERS it says ANYONE that means you and I and anyone. Her simple answer was lets agree to disagree.

    I cannot believe just how the GB teaching is held as high as the Bible.
    As Leonardo said you can take the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink, after a while, why bother.

    Again I love you all and take care

    • Reply by Maria on 2018-12-06 04:29:43

      Dear JB,

      "As Leonardo said you can take the horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink, after a while, why bother"

      Well you can always pray and hope:)


    • Reply by Warp Speed on 2018-12-06 15:56:37

      Hi JB,

      Please continue to be patient with your wife just as the Christ is patient with all. Continue to pray for love and patience with her.

      We are praying for you dear brother and know that we love and care about you.

      Your brother in Christ,


  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-06 18:39:32

    Thanks Warp Speed & Maria

    I really appreciate it & I will continue to reason from the bible with her & hope and pray that one day she will wake up and question GB teaching.

    Thanks again

  • Comment by jamesbrown on 2018-12-07 00:47:55

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know why is GB delaying in releasing year book for 2018? normally its already out by October or November, just wondering why the delay. The website says:

    "At the end of every service year,

    * the peak number of Witnesses for each land during that year is determined. These figures are added together to determine the number of Witnesses worldwide.

    A service year runs from September 1 to August 31 of the next calendar year. For example, the 2015 service year ran from September 1, 2014, through August 31, 2015."

    Thats what the website says, I wonder.

    Have a great weekend my brothers and sisters.

    • Reply by Psalmbee on 2018-12-07 08:44:27

      From what I have heard they are not doing the yearbook anymore.

  • Comment by Jubilant Man on 2018-12-07 16:19:37

    A long overdue word of thanks to everyone who patiently read my long story and to all those who have left feedback. Anyone escaping to Christian freedom undoubtedly faces a long stressful rocky road - that has been my difficult personal experience too. Our still entrapped family members also face many unwelcome challenges. Wherever we are in our personal journey it’s comforting to come across, on this site, such a group of genuine brothers and sisters in Christ expressing his loving spirit. Again, thank you for sharing your many insightful and grace-full comments. Jim

  • Comment by PoetryofProvidence on 2018-12-15 16:53:24

    Always wonderful to hear about "new babes in Christ Jesus"

  • Comment by DavidinLeeds on 2018-12-20 10:17:47

    Jim is an outstanding testimony very well written and thought out. What an extraordinary testament and reveals what source of power is behind the JW.ORG

  • Comment by Yehorakam on 2018-12-23 21:52:00

    Nice experience Jim. Your courage and love for truth (Christ) is to be commended, and if you keep it up, it is to be rewarded. Thanks for sharing!

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