Here is the publication of the story of Kent from Sweden by his own hand.
Searching for the true God and the meaning of life.
I grew up in the 70s. My childhood was filled with mixed emotions due to a separation between my parents and problems both in school and privately. A good friend of mine became diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 17 and soon after that her mother died in heart attack also after a couple years her father died. This together with worldwide starvation and other evil things made me depressed. When I was 24 years old, I began wondering, what is the meaning of this life? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why is there so much evil in our world? As these thoughts grew stronger and stronger, I considered contacting a priest, to ask questions about these things. Time went by and suddenly two Jehovah’s Witnesses stood outside my door. I thought if they had the courage to visit me about discussing the Bible, why not invite them and ask them the questions I had.
Starting to studying the Bible
At that time I began studying the Bible once a week and searched the scripture for the truth about God. I remember my questions: Why is there so much evil in the world? Who is God? Who is Jesus? Is there a true God? One year later, I became convinced that I had found the truth in the JW Organization, so I was baptized in July of 1985. The brothers that studied with me told me that the fulfillment of 1914 predictions, when the World War I broke out, was proof that the Watchtower was Gods organization.
The thing is, in 1985 we had no computers and therefore it was not possible to research more deeply the Watchtower’s claims; so I joined them. My new faith made me a better person. I stopped smoking, started to dress better, started to treat people more kindly and I became a better employee, I worked hard to try to prove to others that the Watchtower was God’s channel. My faith gave me something to live for and it gave meaning to my life. I worked for a year, to free myself from all my debts, so that I could start pioneering, which I did the following year. As the years went by, I experienced personal testing’s as I saw so much in the congregations that shocked me.
The elders exercised great power over the brothers and did not always treat them well. I wondered why so many of the brothers and sisters had so many psychological problems. I concluded that one reason was because they were not allowed critical thinking, so they denied everything that they saw that shouldn’t “be in Gods Organization.” Among these things was the fact that the Watchtower was for many years a “non governing organization” in the UN. I was also bothered at how the elders handled situations. For example, we were not permitted to discuss different ways of understanding scriptures among the brothers. So they would not even consider the possibility that the Watchtower might be wrong in some of their interpretations. When we deny these thoughts, suppress these feelings and pretend that they are not there, we will often feel depressed and mentally sad.
Isolation can lead to terrible things
For example I can tell you the story of a sister we can call her Nancy. She became a witness approximately the same time as I did around 1985. The thing is she gradually developed mental problems, not severe but anyway she had mental problems which developed gradually. In the beginning it was not even possible to see it. She longed to marry, but the time went by and she did not meet any brother. Well she tried to keep up with the standard in the congregation but she did not succeed. She became more and more isolated after a couple of years and I think that the reason was that she could not keep up with the standard. The sisters that where in the center of the congregation, did not give here so much attention, I think that they thought she was not a good witness. She did not have a fine home and she did not have those things that could make her interesting. She was not so very good on the platform and did not preach so many hours as the others thought she should. Anyway she became more and more isolated and when I meet here at the last days of her life, she said she was lonely, she had no really close friends. I tried to say to her that she should not rely only on the brothers in the congregation, but she should try to meet others, for example learn to paint, go on some course and meet others. She said Kent, we are not supposed to engage in meeting people outside, who are not active witnesses.
One elder said the day before she jumped out from a window in desperation on the 7: th floor “I do not feel sorry for her, we have told her to seek help from a Psychiatrist”. And the evening before she jumped she tried to get help by going to a sisters home, but the sister said when she knocked on her door, “go home and clean your apartment, I do not have time with you”. The next day she jumped out from the window in desperation and probably died instantly.
The love we show has to be honest from the heart. If we say hello in the kingdom hall and do not pay any attention to each other when we meet on the street, it could hurt others deeply. We do not have to be perfect but “say what we mean and mean what we say”. If someone leaves all the things he or she has to come in to the congregation and we do not pay any attention to them year after year terrible things can happen.
Another problem arose when the congregation elders handled this situation or did not handle the situation. Because she was so isolated and everyone knew that she was depressed and disappointed, we were supposed to keep our mouth shut and not to talk about it. I remember I was furious and talked to a sister whose husband where an elder “we should not hide anything or try to pretend that it has not happened, we have to talk about this so that it does not happen again”. After I while I heard that her husband tried to build a judging committee and accuse me for blaming the elders for her death. This did not happen, but it was sad to hear that they saw it that way, when I just tried to say that we have to have a chance to talk about it because it affected the brothers.
Bible trained conscience
I also found out that many of the brothers and sisters did not always follow their own bible trained conscience. This probably was and is due to the fact that the organization is so strong and the governing body uses a so strong language to the members, thru the watchtower and the local elders. This has as result that the members follow the governing body and the elder’s advice, without so much really reflecting about it. An example of this is when members turn their head away, when they meet very long time friends that are disfellowshipped. Of course there are many other situations when the advice is well meant, but the motive is to comply with the organization. So we have to reach maturity in our understand of Gods will, so that we can make wise and good decisions, based on our understanding of the loving heavenly Father and his dear son Jesus Christ’s qualities.
I began to display my emotions more and more, and told the elders, when I saw things that should not be in “Gods organization”. The effect was that I became stigmatized, marginalized and more and more alone. I had fewer and fewer friends. Speaking out like this was something you should never do as a follower of the Watchtower. I became more and more disturbed about the way the organization handled things. I had a friend who worked at Bethel and through him I was informed about the hard rulership they followed. He had been working in all approximately 20 years at Bethel, when they suddenly, without no obvious reason, told him, “you have two weeks to pack your bags, and then we want you out of here”. He had no backup in society absolutely nothing he did not have an apartment, no work nothing. I am sure Jehovah God helped him and today he has a nice family in a little local congregation, but it was not nice to treat someone like that, who have been working so hard for the society. There were many other things he told me about the fighting’s at the top of Bethel, fighting’s over prominence and who was going to be at the top and so forth. If you want to succeed as a Jehovah’s Witness you should comply, comply and comply, that’s something they really would appreciate and they will call you a very strong follower of the Watchtower.
I started to study Social Science at College in 2000, something they did not support. One reason for my interest in Social Science was that I wanted to understand all those negative processes that existed in the congregations. I took my degree after 4 years. When I was in college, I started a deep study on the Internet of some of the Watchtowers dearest truths. I focused on the claim that they are God’s organization.
The Watchtower’s doctrines
The claim of authority in the Watchtower Organization has its root in the doctrine that God choose them as the only organization he would work with. They say that Jehovah choose the Watchtower Organization in 1918, three and a half years after he became King in 1914. They say that he came to his temple and cleansed it. To come to the year 1918 you first have to acknowledge the year 1914 as the year Christ became King and was given the rulership from God. If this was true, then God choose the Watchtower, because, as they claimed, they were the only organization that truly served God.
Now I have to say, that today, I think that prophetically, the year 1874, is far more interesting than the year 1914. The reason for that is, the prophecy in Daniel 12, where it says that Daniel should wait 1290 days and 1335 days, and that the world would change drastically – the parousia came and so many interesting things happened; among them, the Jews came back to their land. As I see it the most important thing today is, to have faith in God his Christ and the Bible and reflect Gods and Christ’s most important quality Love.
One more thing that is important to mention here and that is the need the governing body has, for their claim of power, to be legitimate. This is why this prophetic application is so important to them. They say that after three and a half year from 1914 Christ came to his temple and choose the Watchtower among all Christian organizations. Today they admit that the judging of the temple is in the future, but nevertheless they say that God choose the Watchtower to be his only organization.
After discovering that the Watchtower was a non-governing organization at the UN (There where a big article in the Guardian at that time about this) and that they fought their own members at courts, so they wouldn’t have to pay money, (Members that where abused as children tried to fight the Watchtower legally, but many lost their trials against the Watchtowers lawyers.) Today Candice Conte is an example of someone that has succeeded in meeting the Watchtower legally. I started to wonder, could this really be God’s organization? I doubted that the brothers were all driven by Gods spirit and also that the Organization was driven by Gods spirit. I saw so much bad going on and no one dared to question the organization of fear they could be disfellowshipped.
I started to look at their claim that Gods Kingdom was set up the year 1914. After I did this research, I confronted the Watchtower with what I had found. My claim in general was that I did not believe that Christ Kingdom over the earth started 1914. After four months I got a reply, where they said they should send two elders to me and teach me the right understanding. I said if you do not have any new material to present, I do not want to have a meeting. In the end, they disfellowshipped me for being rebellious. The reason for the disfellowshipping was that I did not accept the brothers to have a meeting with me. The thing is I never for one minute questioned the Bible, on the contrary after my research of the scriptures involved I was more convinced than ever that the Bibles prophesies are still being fulfilled exactly as they are written in the Bible by God.
Actually the Watchtower’s attitude in this question has not gradually become softer and more merciful on the contrary more rigid and aggressive. I called the Watchtowers headquarter in England for a couple of days ago to ask them more questions regarding the 1914 doctrine. He asked me first who I was, when I said I want to be anonymous, he went further and asked me to send a mail to the writing department. I said I want to be anonymous, if I send in a question with a regular mail I have to give you my address otherwise you cannot reply. I want to be anonymous, then he said but if you give me your address two elders can visit you and help you understand this doctrine. We don’t answer this kind of question anymore over the telephone. The reason he said was that it is so deep and complicated so they do not want to answer these kind of question regarding the year 1914, via telephone. Actually this shows that instead of trying to help someone, they want to track them down, so that they could come and visit you and find out if you are a brother or an interested person. If you are a brother and you do not comply with the Watchtowers 1914 doctrine, they will probably disfellowshipped you to avoid the members to be infected with this poison.
Now I was alone, really alone and it was difficult to start a new life without my old friends and the support from them. A couple of years went by, when I did not engage in any Bible studies. I was bitter and was working to find a new way. I was thinking that the material from Russell always stood the tests and was so inspiring. I read them over and over after I came in to the organization, because the material about the Christian calling so strongly appealed to me. I read most of what I came over from the old books and became convinced that this was for me. I struggled much with this for many years in the Watchtower. They treated any younger ones as mentally diseased if they partook of the emblems. In 2002 I partook of the emblems anyway after communicating with some other anointed brothers mainly from USA.
Meeting the Bible Student’s
So now I remembered that I had heard that the Bible Students still existed, though they were small in numbers. I searched the Internet and came in contact with a very nice sister that I had email contact with. We discussed doctrines as “the Great Company (Great Crowd), the ransom for all, the return of the Israelites to their homeland and so forth. I did not agree at once, however I began a process of thinking about these things. Suddenly, I began to experience a time of severe trials both at my work and also privately, which distracted me away from my new feelings. At first, I did not think so much about but it, however after some time I wondered why these difficult personal trials came now? I concluded it was due to the fact that I had started to communicate with the Bible Students. Satan wanted to discourage me from my new path. I took up the discussions which led to the situation where I rearranged my thinking in many of the doctrines as, the Great Company, the ransom for all and the return of the Jews to their land. I have gradually more and more adjusted my understanding of different prophecies.
And a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a convention in Hannover Germany by Brother Allen Springer. I went there by train and boat. It was a wonderful time I had those days and I will never forget it. The brethren took care of me in a wonderful way and they made my time there a memory for life. I was used to conventions with the witnesses and this was so much more spiritually up building. So now I look forward to the International Convention in Poland next autumn.
I think that it is good to listen to the Bible Students understanding of the scriptures and take into consideration all the scriptures involved and pray to God for help in understanding them. It is good to be honest and listen, as the Berean Christians did and search the scriptures to see if it is as they say. Another thing that has made impact on me is the negative consequences that a man made organization can have on its followers. Despite the fact that some of the Watchtower’s doctrines are in harmony with the scriptures such as Gods name, Christ’s role in the kingdom, the 144 000 and that there is no hell fire and so forth; in contrast many of Russell’s teachings were changed, mainly by Judge Rutherford. Brother Russell never supported the idea that some men in Brooklyn named themselves a governing body and ruled over the organization and its members.
I really have to say that I met so many really spiritual minded brothers and sisters and they meant so much to me. I do not doubt for one second that the brothers and sisters that feared God and loved the Bible were also loved by God and Christ. But what was disturbing was that they claimed that this was Gods organization and therefore no one dared to question things. I was also glad that I came to know the truth and Gods purpose through Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I see so many brothers’ hearts directed to a man made organization instead of using their Bible trained conscience and following the Bibles principles.
An example of this is when brothers say “the Watchtower says” or “the Watchtower teaches” instead of God says or the Bible teaches. The consequence was that they feared the organization more than God. When their hearts where directed this way they could treat the brothers really bad, almost in an evil way and think that they did God’s will.
Today I must say that I am so grateful for all I have learned both as a Jehovah’s Witness and also as a Bible Student. God has so lovingly cared for me all these years, through all my different experiences. I do not have time here to discuss all these things, but I feel that God always has taken care of me, though some experiences have been really difficult. We learn so much and are growing when we are loyal through the trials. We just have to go on forward and not look back on what we have left. I can honestly say that if someone really loves Jehovah God for who He is, studies the scriptures and has a strong faith in the scriptures, I think that God will help and protect such a one. He will probably not hinder all the trials and problems a brother has to go through, however Jehovah will probably let him learn important things from the different experiences. God will surely also answer a prayer for a right understanding and in his right time and will give the right understanding. The Christian walk is not easy but it so worth it, because to grow in likeness of God and Christ is so wonderful and one day maybe God can say “well done my servant”.
Despite being with the Jehovah’s Witness Organization, when we are humble and honest in our heart, we can make progress in our relationship with God and Christ and we will grow from day to day to be more mature. Love is also something that we have to both learn and develop and God will help us. So Gods eyes are searching all over the earth to give strength and help, to those that really love him and his wonderful plan. 2 Chron 16:9 (my favorite scripture).
Your brother in Christ.