[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.]