“I lost a lot in the past being a JW, and continue to lose in the future by not being a JW! It makes me wish I was raised with no religion at all. That way I could begin from scratch. But I married “in the truth” and raised my family in it. They remain in the Watchtower, so by leaving, I lose EVERYTHING.” — Carol*
I’m so thankful for every Christian who endeavors to share the gospel with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I can’t emphasize enough that it’s much more than correct teaching that a Witness on the way out needs. Just as those in the first century were put at great risk in following a Messiah that their own religious leaders sought to kill, today, Jehovah’s Witnesses who begin to follow Jesus are also in danger of losing it all. So they need support, friendship, and community.
People like “Carol” (not her real name) contact our ministry at 4witness.org looking for help. We talk on the phone or email and if they want to study the Bible, I offer them a Galatians 101 Bible study.
Those who leave the organization experience great losses due to alienation from their religion and family.
the reality is, they are often between a rock and a hard place. Someone you study with may come to love Jesus but are also surrounded by a JW family they also love.
They’re not ready to be cut off and I understand that. It’s an uncomfortable spot. Sometimes they will discontinue discussions due to the anxiety attacks, deep depression, and mental anguish that leaving this organization brings.
After waking up to “the truth about the truth,” one person wrote,
“I should have never phoned you in the first place. I should have thought it through.
But then I would not have known that it is possible to have what I thought was impossible. Love of Jesus and unconditional friendship.”
As I read that, I wanted others who reach out to Jehovah’s Witnesses to understand that people like this come to recognize the contrast between the conditional love they experienced all their lives as JWs and the radical unconditional love of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it seems too much to bear. While being drawn to the love of Jesus, they know it draws them further away from the confinement of their familiar surroundings in the Watchtower.
One person in this dilemma wrote that they would die keeping their family together. She trusted that Jesus would love them all “as is” and look past the deception they were under.
Of course, I sympathize with this dilemma. They’re awake, ready to testify and be used to glorify God, and yet trapped and trying to create peace where Jesus brought a sword (Matthew 10:34).
It’s a hard lesson, but once surrendered to Christ, they’re in good hands to better navigate that storm.
The Watchtower knows the power of blackmailing people and using a person’s family as pawns. In this way, they steal what belongs to Jesus.
When they leave this religion, they experience loneliness, betrayal, losses, and often divorce. And though it’s a necessary stage in recovery, they also have an intense HATE toward the Watchtower. They need to go through that powerful emotion but I pray they come through it to the victory of forgiveness.
When I explained this to a Christian woman who’s been reaching out to one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in her area, she wrote back that it weighed heavily on her,
“because I tend to forget how hard it must be for people to leave. I think in terms of how hard it is to leave your family and friends, but it’s not just that is it? You’re really leaving your life, your identity, and on top of that, the people who you thought loved you the most now shun you…. I can understand why there would be so much hatred…”
I’m so thankful she “gets it.” Too many times people assume they can just share a few facts or verses to “correct” the JW in one brief encounter and yet feel no compassion for them.
I take encouragement from Jesus’ words at Mark 8:2-3
“I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.”
Seekers trapped in the organization come “a great distance” to listen to the words of Jesus. They must push past the fears of contacting our ministry and then speak with someone whom the Watchtower has labeled as an evil “apostate.” In order to hear truth, they must battle the constant indoctrination of the Watchtower still ringing in their ears. And, the daily concerns of friends and family they may lose in the process weighs heavy on their hearts. Some spend a short amount of time feeding on God’s truth when they take the time to push past those fears. But then they go away to their own home HUNGRY. My concern is they may faint on the way. But look, JESUS FEELS COMPASSION! Jesus turns His attention to His disciples instructing them to give those who’ve gathered something to eat.
Please dear Christian, don’t let them faint.
If you’ve ever prayed for one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you’ve probably experienced how God’s concern becomes your concern. He raises up His servants for such a task. Please don’t ever assume the small fish and loaves you present them are of no value. They are food for the moment so ask God to bless the offering and multiply it. Know that God’s compassion will not let that one starve.
Sometimes we have to respect an exiting JW’s decision to remain at a distance for a while as they process the new life they’re being called to. The guilt is overpowering for slaves daring to think for themselves. One person in this struggle noted how the organization had “such power over families.” They described their anxiety as “paralyzing.” After learning “the truth about the truth” they felt “stuck.” Even so, this loving servant of God took the time to encourage me in the faith.
“Please don’t stop giving from your heart to others, because sometimes circumstances prevent what you are working to do. Keep being vulnerable. You are the daughter of a king and need to keep showing people what love is.“
I pray and believe that such ones will lose the life they currently have in the Watchtower and step into the new life God prepared in advance for them. I know they want to run after Jesus, but they’re counting the cost. They’re just not ready to bear that cross. But what looks impossible to men is made possible through Christ our Lord. So please, continue to pray for all those struggling to break free!
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matthew 16:24-26
Keep yourself in God’s love,
* To protect her privacy, I have not disclosed her real name