I grew up under the umbrella of the Watchtower Society. My mother and father were not involved in Christianity, but my father was a believer in the Watchtower Society’s teaching and would later become ‘a’ Jehovah’s Witness. As a Jehovah’s Witness, it was always upsetting to me to hear other JW’s say they were ‘a’ Jehovah’s Witness because it didn’t sound personal, but like you were only part of a religious movement. Now I do use that term because I am truly a witness for Jesus now.
As a young boy, I was regularly taken to the Kingdom Hall by my aunt and grandmother, and our home was always stocked with the latest Watchtower literature. The only “Bible” we had was the New World Translation. When I was 14, I became very interested in serving God. At one point, I had 3 different Jehovah’s Witnesses conducting studies with me in 3 different Watchtower publications. I was also a regular in the meetings and tried to share my beliefs at school.
At the age of 9, I had gotten involved in go-kart racing. That ended for me when my parents divorced when I was 13, but a friend of my father decided that, if I was willing, he would sponsor me. With racing back in my life, my devotion to the Watchtower started to fade, but I was already indoctrinated and knew that some day I would pursue becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.
Racing quickly became consuming, and I was accomplished at it. Success in go-kart racing led me, at the age of 20, to start racing Legends Cars. I became a ‘hired gun’ driving for other car owners and started a side gig setting up cars for other people. Some of the guys I grew up racing go-karts with were starting to move into the NASCAR scene. This was my goal as well, and it seemed realistic since I had beaten most of them in go-karts.
It was at the National Championship in Charlotte in 1996 that I was involved in a huge fight at a local night club. I was engaged at the time and had no business in a night club carrying on with other women to begin with. Afterwards, I considered the ‘what if’s’ about that night and I started to analyze my life. I felt that if I had not made it to the big league by now, I likely would not. I was also starting to recognize the kind of person I was becoming – and I wanted to change. For me, change would mean seeking God through the Watchtower Society.
I thought that this decision would be welcomed by my fiancée, Linda. To my surprise, though, it caused us to split up and cancel our wedding which was scheduled for just a few months away. After Linda and I split up, I dove head first into the Watchtower, moving to Western North Carolina where I served as a pioneer minister devoting 70 hours per month to the door-to-door and street ministry, at times going out alone.
During this time, Linda had started studying with another JW lady who tried to take the place of Linda’s mom – and the tactic worked. Linda quickly made progress in the Watchtower, drawing closer to Jehovah’s Witnesses and drifting further from her own family. She was approved for baptism in 1998 and, with the blessing of the elders, we eloped and were married.
Linda and I served the Watchtower as a family faithfully and fully for the next 15 years. I was quickly made a Ministerial Servant in the congregation and started to be assigned teaching parts on a regular basis. This was not so much because of my ability but likely because I was an unquestioning follower and did all that was requested of me without hesitation. During the next 15 years, Linda and I would have 3 beautiful children. We were considered a model family in our Circuit. Life as a JW felt very secure; we had all of the answers and were the standard that others should try to live up to.
There were a lot of secrets that had been carefully guarded by my family – secrets that had to be addressed, as well as boundaries that had to be put in place after the birth of my daughter. This led to a complete severing of the relationship between my father and me (until he became a Jehovah’s Witness a few years later). Once my father became a Jehovah’s Witness, I was made to feel that I should seek to reconcile with him. There was pressure on me to accept more responsibility in the congregation and to loosen the boundaries that my wife and I had established as it gave the appearance of conflict between my father and me.
This combination of factors led to my having to reveal family secrets. It led to a death threat by my father, and it ultimately led me to having suicidal thoughts and the start of a breakdown of my marriage. I was offered no real help by the elders because they had to, first and foremost, protect the image of the Watchtower which meant I had to remain silent about the past and the threat I was now facing. I secretly sought professional help and was diagnosed with clinical depression and PTSD. The enforced silence was killing me. I was threatened with judicial action from the Watchtower if I spoke of the past, and I felt isolated. I was also told that my speaking out would damage my relationship with God.
In October 2013, I met another JW at a retreat for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. His story and the actions from the Watchtower were just like mine. This led to my questioning the Watchtower’s claim to be God’s sole channel to man. Within two weeks, I had done research and completely dismantled this Watchtower doctrine. I also discovered that, according to the Watchtower, Jesus was not my mediator. I could not reconcile this with 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. I also discovered all of the failed predictions made by the Watchtower that they had carefully revised or completely left out of the literature we were provided as Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was enough for me to resign from my role in the congregation and to formally disassociate myself in November 2013.
After a few months of dabbling in similar cult groups, I heard a clear Gospel presentation through a YouTube video. I didn’t agree with the speaker on the deity of Christ or the Trinity, but I kept coming back to hear the message.
My wife and I finally worked up the nerve to visit a church. That Sunday, the pastor broke off of his teaching series and taught on the deity of Christ! I thought about what I had heard, and considered that maybe I was wrong. Maybe I needed to humble myself.
One afternoon, I walked down to the river behind our home and I prayed to Jesus, begging Him to show me who He is and to forgive me if I had been misrepresenting Him and denying Him for so many years. I begged Him to save me. Nothing miraculous happened, but over the next few weeks, I felt as if I were reading the Bible for the first time. Actually, I suppose I was, being that I had only ever read the NWT. Quickly the scales were being removed from my eyes and I came to fall in love with Jesus.
Praise God that he used so much hurt from the past to break and humble me in order to give true salvation.