Cam's Story

– posted by meleti

[This is a very tragic and touching experience which Cam has given me permission to share.  It is from the text of an e-mail he sent me. - Meleti Vivlon]

I left Jehovah's Witnesses just over a year ago, after I saw tragedy, and I just want to thank you for your encouraging articles. I watched your recent interview with James Penton and am working through the series you put out.

Just to let you know how much it means to me, I can briefly relate my situation. I grew up as a Witness. My mother saw some truths click as she was studying. My father left around this time, partly because he did not want her to study the Bible. The congregation was all we had, and I immersed myself in the congregation. I married a sister because I thought she was spiritual and planned a family with her. After our wedding, I found that she did not want children after all, that she loved to gossip, preferred female company (lesbian) and when she left me a few years later, I got a glimpse of how the "spiritual" ones in the congregation assisted her in leaving, and caused a division in the congregation. The ones I thought were my friends turned their back, and this hit me hard. But I was still behind the Organization.

I ended up meeting a sweet sister in Chicago that I fell in love with and married. She could not have children due to health issues, yet I gave up my 2nd chance for children to be with someone so kind and amazing. She brought out the best in me. After our wedding, I found out that she had an alcohol problem, and it began to get worse. I sought help through many channels, including the elders. They were actually helpful, and did what they could with their limited abilities, but addiction is a hard thing to overturn. She went to rehab and returned still with her addiction not under control, so she was disfellowshipped. She was left to handle it without the help of anyone, even her family, because they were Witnesses.

She needed to see light at the end of her tunnel and asked for a timeframe for reinstatement. They told her she is only hurting herself, so if she could get control of this for 6 months, they would talk to her then. She took this very seriously from that moment. Due to several personal reasons, we moved in that period of time, and now had new elders and a new congregation. My wife was so positive and happy and excited to start fresh and make new friends, but after meeting the elders, they were adamant that she must stay out for 12 months minimum. I fought this and insisted on a reason, but they refused to supply one.

I watched my wife slip into the darkest depression, so my time was spent either at work or caring for her. I stopped going to the kingdom hall. Many times I stopped her from committing suicide. Her emotional pain manifested itself in sleepwalking every night, and she started to self medicate with alcohol while I was at work. It ended one morning when I found her body on the kitchen floor. She had died in her sleep. While sleepwalking, she had laid down in a way that impeded her breathing. I fought to revive her using CPR and chest compressions until the ambulance arrived, but she had been oxygen deprived for too long.

The first call I made was long distance to my mother. She insisted I call the elders for support, so I did. When they showed up, they were not sympathetic. They did not console me. They said, "If you ever want to see her again, you will have to come back to the meetings."

It was at this moment that I was thoroughly convinced that this is not the place to find God. Everything I have come to believe in my life was now in question, and all I knew was that I could not abandon everything I had come to believe. I was lost, but felt there was some truth to hold on to. The Witnesses started with something good, and turned it into something disgusting and evil.

I blame the Organization for her death. Had they let her back, she would have been on a different path. And even if it could be argued that they are not to blame for her death, they certainly made the last year of her life miserable.

I am now trying to start over in Seattle. If you are ever in the area, please let me know! And keep up the outstanding work. More people are built up by your research and  videos than you might know.

[Meleti writes: I cannot read such heart-breaking experiences as this one without thinking of Christ's warning to his disciples, particularly those in whom more responsibility has been invested.  “. . .But whoever stumbles one of these little ones that believe, it would be finer for him if a millstone such as is turned by an ass were put around his neck and he were actually pitched into the sea.” (Mr 9:42)  All of us should be mindful of these words of warning now and into our future so that we never again permit the rule of man and Pharisaical self-righteousness to cause us to sin by hurting one of the little ones.]

Archived Comments

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  • Comment by yobec on 2020-01-13 14:57:02

    Very sad story but unfortunately very common.
    I remember an abused sister (childhood) ended up being disfellowshipped later in life.
    She also became suicidal so she asked if the elders could pay her a visit. After pouring her heart out, one of the elders said:
    " What are we suppose to do, reinstate you because you're suicidal?"
    Our Creator condemned the ancient Jewish clergy for not being able to " bandage the sheep"
    Ezekiel: 34:4 "You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally"

  • Comment by Chester on 2020-01-13 16:27:48

    This is tragic. My heart weeps for such people who are not in need of punishment but in need of love and kindness and understanding. The attitude of the elders reminds me of the pharisaical attitude Jesus warned us against, Matthew 23 “ You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You’re like tombs that have been whitewashed. On the outside they are beautiful, but inside they are full of bones and filth. 28 That’s what you are like. Outside you look good, but inside you are evil and only pretend to be good.”
    They claim to be this “beautiful religion”, full of love and kindness for all their brothers and sisters but on the inside are plain evil with what they do.
    I hope you are able to cope with your emotions and can somehow find solace and peace.
    A sister in my area had a very sad sad story. She was baptised at age 9 and disfellowshipped at 16. The father [an elder] was sexually abusing all of the children and the elders did nothing. She struggled emotionally for years with the effects it had on her. She moved to another country, some 2000 miles away wanted to get reinstated but of course with the pharisaical rules the organisation has, the original committee, 2000 miles away had to be the ones who reinstated her!! They kept refusing for a couple of years, I approached the coordinator I was once an elder myself and told him how wrong it was for people living 2000 miles away to be the ones making the decisions - they can’t see her spiritual progress, her emotional stress etc. Coordinator said “thats the rules the GB give us”.
    Eventually she was reinstated but within a few years she was struggling with the damage done by the organisations lack of justice, love, compassion in handling the matter. She sadly took her own life.
    At her funeral the other abused brothers and sisters were there, 3 disfellowshipped, embrassing each other crying their eyes out with not a single person offering them any comfort. I left the org pretty soon after that.
    I blame the org for her death too.
    Thank you for bringing this story to us so as people can see how far removed the organisation is from our Lords mercy and forgiveness. Much love to all.

  • Comment by swaffi on 2020-01-13 19:02:34

    Is this the way the organisation has headed? Is this the way it has always been? What a boxed-in, mind-controlled bunch of people. What really worried and shocked the life out of me was when at my last stages with the org. One big pattern had emerged. The brothers that were practicing true Christianity were the rank and file. Most of the elders seem to live in a different world. A corporate world. An organisation mindset world. Man, was I discouraged. Little cracks in the dam started to really open up after that. It's so sad that it's all conditional love in the org. Not much real love I'm afraid. I can't believe that I got caught up in it as well. No wonder I didn't get baptised until about 7.5 years of studying. Something didn't seem right. I will admit, however, I did have a gambling problem for a while and it took quite a while for me to ditch that. But one thing I can say about that, I was always honest with the elders concerning that. If I had a slip-up, I would tell them. I wonder how many times certain elders in my and other congregations do that?

    • Reply by Chet on 2020-01-14 20:07:06

      You’re right, many elders do not live in the same world. They have a position in the congregation that has been defined by the Organization and is not realistic. Many elders are under the thumb of overbearing
      sales managers make that Circuit Overseers, whom are judged by their numbers. It’s supposed to be theocratic, but operates much like any business. I don’t agree with the assessment that it’s a printing/publishing company; I think it’s more about building a real estate empire and they’re off to a flying start.

      I remember when I got baptized and suddenly the love-bombing was replaced with tough talk. It was obvious that I was being treated quite differently. Especially because of a family heritage in the Organization, I made excuses and it took a lot of years and a lot of pain before I finally accepted that this organization was not what I had thought it to be.

      I have no regrets about striving to live to very high moral standards. Those Christian morals are more important to me now than ever before. But besides that, I feel that I wasted much of my life jumping through hoops for a manmade organization that truly didn’t care if I lived or died.

  • Comment by LaRhonda T. on 2020-01-14 01:59:06

    I read this and it broke my heart! How cold-hearted and cruel! yet, these elders are NOT trained in human psychology and are not qualified to help people suffering from addictions and/or emotional difficulties. I have sauté therapy for an issue I dealt with in the mid 1990's and it helped me a great deal, yet the elders were miffed about my seeking help. It wasn't long after that that I began questioning them, the organization and all I'd been taught by the JW's. I pray that this dear man find peace and comfort in his life and that The Most High, Yahuah would just envelope him in loving arms of comfort, and peace.

  • Comment by Chet on 2020-01-14 16:06:14

    What an ordeal! I've experienced some pretty bad things at the hands of corrupt elders, but what they did to your wife is about as bad as it gets.

    Disfellowshipping has become a weapon. It's used as a way to express power and to dominate others. Under the banner of "keeping the congregation clean", which does not appear in the Bible, they have granted themselves unchecked power. The only good thing is we do not have to grant them power or influence in our lives. Unfortunately, the process of learning that can have tragic consequences.

  • Comment by Frankie on 2020-01-15 18:27:46

    Dear brother Cam.

    Your experience is very, very sad. I can't hug you, but at least I'd like to tell you what I was thinking about when I read your bitter experience.

    You were in an organization that kept you from coming to Jesus. Every year at the Memorial they told you to reject His offer of eternal life. To reject bread and wine symbolizing your redemption. But Jesus wants you. He needed to get you out of Org and bring you to Him. And then came the moment your eyes were opened - as you wrote: "It was at this moment that I was thoroughly convinced that this is not the place to find God."

    You lost your beloved wife. It is terrible experience. But God will return her to you when he resurrects her, and then everything will be OK. Now, you have found our beloved Lord who says: "I am the way, and the TRUTH, and the life." With all your pain, you certainly felt this. You wrote: "I was lost, but felt there was some TRUTH to hold on to." The Lord was still holding your hand. You're no longer a slave to people. TRUTH has set you free. No one will decide for you whether to accept the life from the hands of our Lord.

    Our Heavenly Father is always with us and will never leave us. And especially when we are in troubles. I have also had very difficult moments in my life; I am not going to describe them now. I was on my knees, literally. There were moments when I didn't want to live. I was asking myself: "Why did it happen, and why this way?"
    I kept thinking of: "God has allowed it - God has seen it - God is love and hence it will not hurt anyone".

    And when I was down, I felt God is with me. It was various experiences, details of life, His answers to my desperate questions. At that time I found a Psalm that confirmed what I felt. Since then I see it on my computer's screen at every start:
    "Jehovah is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18).
    I felt the power of God at the moment when I no longer had any strength.

    My prayers are with you.

  • Comment by Judá Ben-Hur on 2020-01-30 15:08:33

    Cam, realmente siento mucho tu situación. El Señor Jesús les dará el juicio más severo a ésos pseudo-cristianos fariseos. No hay palabras que puedan consolarte, solo sigue manteniendo la fe en el Señor Jesús.

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