I love to share encouraging news like this. It’s another example of how God is the one making seeds grow that others have watered. Living in the Midwest, I’m familiar with spring time planting and an autumn harvest. But that’s life in the natural. In the kingdom of God, anything is possible, even a springtime harvest!
On the morning of March 22 I received a call through the ministry team extension line from a man named Joe. He said he had been raised “in the truth” and served as an elder for 10 years but asked to be disfellowshipped about 4 years ago. He was anxious and depressed and had a lot to get off his chest, so I sat back and listened to his story. In our phone conversation, Joe compared the Watchtower and Jesus several times noting that Jesus was always merciful where the organization was not.
God had been speaking to Joe through some movies and TV shows. He had watched a show called “Intervention” about a drug addict whose family continued to love and stay with them through recovery. With tenderness in his voice, Joe said that the congregation is supposed to be like a family supporting one another in our weaknesses, not condemning or shunning those going through hardships. And he told me how encouraged he was to know that Jesus came for those who are sick, not those who don’t need a physician.
I could tell he had a real compassion for people and had been a very balanced elder seeking the good in his brothers and sisters rather than condemning their weaknesses. Joe attributed that to knowing his own weaknesses and seeing how Jesus extended MERCY. I encouraged him to keep his eyes on Jesus.
Joe seemed to have a good grasp on who Jesus is but kept inserting “but the Watchtower…” It was plain to see there was a battle inside his head of who to trust. So I asked him to read Romans 8:15 and tell me how many spirits were named in that verse. He determined there were TWO spirits being talked about there. We discussed how one is a spirit of slavery and by obeying it we’re led into fear. The other is the spirit of adoption by which we’re drawn to a closer relationship with Jehovah even crying out to Him “Abba Father!” We talked a little about our earthly fathers, the men who were responsible for us being born in the flesh, then contrasted that with how God adopts us into a new birth so that we have a heavenly Father. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:6, “what’s born of flesh is flesh, what’s born of spirit is spirit.” Jesus encourages us to be born of God’s spirit in order to see God’s kingdom. Our fathers on earth — no matter how good or bad they are/were — cannot help us in that way. No matter how much knowledge we may have of the Bible, there has to be this spirit adoption because as Jesus said, we cannot SEE nor ENTER the kingdom without it. We simply remain in our flesh. I encouraged Joe to prayerfully read the entire chapter of Romans 8 and ask himself if it is even possible to belong to Christ without that adoption.
As he scanned over the chapter on the phone, he said Romans 8:26-27 appealed to him noting that it is God’s spirit that searches the heart and helps us to pray when we can’t find words or even know what we need. He seemed more encouraged and focused by the time we hung up and his email the next day confirmed that.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I contacted you yesterday I was in mental distress and hungering for someone to listen to me. I worked a long day yesterday. However, I was able to pray to my Father in Jesus’ name for him to guide me.
I am going to start reading the book of Romans today. Yesterday we talked about many praiseworthy things. We considered Romans 8:26. “the spirit does plead for us.” I love verse 27. Where it says “Yet he who searches the heart knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.”
Also, verse 35 states “who can separate us from the love of Christ?” Verse 39 goes further by saying “nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Well it was pretty obvious to me that the Holy Spirit was opening Joe’s eyes to the healing in His word. So I wrote back telling him how happy I was to hear that some of his stress was alleviated. I’ve found that a lot of stress can be released by simply sharing our stories. When someone listens, we don’t feel so isolated. I assured him I was happy to offer my listening ears because someone did that for me when I was stressed out and confused after being kicked out of the Watchtower. I told him I was just ‘paying it forward’ because I know that God has arranged this season of my life to be available for that.
I shared some helpful links with Joe then ended my letter with,
I am praying for you Joe, and I am a firm believer that the Spirit of God knows best how to teach us individually (John 14:26). He is teaching you. Because your heart really responded to Romans 8, I believe that is where He has led you to seek Him at this particular time. And frankly, I’m not surprised. Do you remember how I shared the Native American story about the two wolves living inside of us? One is full of the desires of the flesh, the other is full of the good we seek to do. The one who wins is the one we FEED.
The apostle Paul was filled with God’s Holy Spirit, yet confessed that he still battled his flesh. He was aware of the two wolves inside of him. Romans 7 is his battle, but Romans 8 is his solution. He clearly got the message to feed the Spirit. And that is what God is leading you to do at this time. There is a voracious wolf claiming you for itself right now, but you have committed your life to Jesus as Lord, not to any other lord. Not the lord of alcohol, not the lord of religion, not the lord of depression or sorrow, but to JESUS CHRIST AS LORD. He is the Lord of the Sabbath. Yes, the Lord of your REST. And John 10:10 shows your joy was stolen by a thief, but Jesus came to give you LIFE. Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16)
Keep in touch my friend, I love hearing from people whom the Lord has rescued. Your life is about to take a 180 turn for the better Joe! I rejoice with you!
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie
Joe wrote back that he reflected on Galatians 5:1
” For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore, stand fast and do not let yourselves be confined again in the yoke of slavery.” Jesus died for all mankind who reach out for him.
Our wonderful Lord and Master said by this you will know my followers, that they have love among themselves. You, Anne and others have allowed me to reach out at my very lowest. I have been blessed with comfort from the word. I can’t thank you and others enough for your encouragement. You are indeed being used by God. Thank you Julie, my beloved sister in Christ.”
Joe called and left me a message on Easter Sunday but I couldn’t talk to him until the next day. He was headed out of town and I prayed God would bring him into contact with positive people and situations that would help to distract him from the stress of his situation for a while.
After we talked, I sent Joe an email to recap some of the things we discussed on the phone that morning,
It sounds like you continue to see the contrast of who Jesus is and how the Watchtower presents Him. Jesus is merciful. Yes, He ate with tax collectors and sinners. As the Great Physician, He came to heal those who were sick for those who profess perfect health don’t need Him do they? But spiritually speaking, who of us is EVER in perfect health? We all NEED Jesus very much. It seems the Pharisees thought they were in perfect health and therefore judged everyone else as “sick.” Sound familiar? (referring to the July 15, 2011 Watchtower in which the organization named anyone who left as ‘mentally diseased.’)
Joe, you have a lot of Jesus in you. You recognize those who need a glass of water and a kind word. At risk to your own reputation as an elder, you offered a disfellowshipped man a bottle of water and spoke with him. Jesus also took the risk of being compassionate to the least of these even though it put His reputation as a good rabbi on the line. You did the right thing but wonder why others don’t support you. Jesus went to His own brethren, the Jews, and yet it says in John 1:11 “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” Do you see how Jesus was also rejected? But notice the next verses “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) Jesus has extended to you the right to be a child of God. Remember, there are two spirits fighting for you. The spirit of adoption is what causes you to know and believe you are God’s child. The other spirit is one of slavery and fear (Romans 8:15)
I pray that you keep pressing through this battle. I believe Jesus is indeed fighting for you. Let Him take you by the hand and trust Him as He says “follow me” because He is leading you AWAY from the lies. He is the way and the life and He is “THE TRUTH” not the organization. Jesus is the truth. And yes, you have focused on the Light. Jesus is the Light. And that is why your eyes are open to the darkness and it perplexes you. Let the Light continue to lead you out of darkness and one day you’re going to be able to look back and recognize that it no longer has any control over you. You will know for certain that Light overcomes the darkness. You will know that it was by God’s Spirit alone that you were separated because that is what He did from the very beginning in Genesis. God is in the business of separating light and darkness. And I thank God for this day for He is creating in you a beautiful beacon of light to draw others to the LIGHT of Christ in you. May He continue to strengthen you and surround you with the support you need in this journey. My God is faithful and able and He has gone ahead of you to fight and to win the battle. Enter the land, for what He opened to you cannot be denied. I pray, Holy Spirit, have your way in Joe. In Jesus’ name, amen!
P.S. Read John 9 and notice how Jesus healed a man in His mercy before the man even knew who He was. And how that merciful act of Jesus led to trouble for the man. When did Jesus reveal Himself to that man that he could know who Jesus was? How does this relate to your story right now?
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie
On the evening of March 28, Joe responded with
Yes indeed!! Jesus is full of mercy. His life and actions were written in the Bible for us. Even during my transition to find the real light and love of God and Christ. I can’t imagine that I would be turned away for that. It deeply saddens me when men get in the way of humans trying to find truth and light no matter how sincere they may be. We must walk the way Jesus did. Jesus could have came to earth to judge and shun. He did the total opposite. He chose to reach out for the hurt, discouraged and lost. As I grow in spirit, I also pray to never judge anyone. Why? Because Jesus Christ set the greatest example. When we see Jesus, we see our loving Father. I now know I am not an apostate, but a man that loves my heavenly father, Jesus and my fellow man. Julie, I am also praying for you. You have given me your time. You listened to me and then helped me. I will continue on my journey. I will have to read John chapter 9 on the computer. I hope you have a blessed night. Also, know that you have been used to help a sheep that is finding his way home through the Christ.
My dear sister, keep yourself in God’s love
That was an encouraging letter in itself, but a few hours later he sent another email,
Hello my sister:
I read John chapter 9. Outstanding!!! Julie, they put the man out because he confessed in Jesus giving him sight. The Bible was written for our instruction. I learned that Jehovah nor Jesus puts those out that seek them. Glory be to the giver of life and his beautiful son Christ Jesus!!!!!!
I never read this wonderful chapter and let the spirit speak to me this way.
Thank you Julie for the comforting scripture.
I knew Joe was busy on his trip, so we had a day lapse between us of no contact. I kept him in my prayers and on the evening of March 30, I was blessed by another email from Joe.
My dear sister Julie:
I am so excited!! I am in Alabama training with firefighters, law officers, public health, medical staff and many other civil servants. After class, I went on a walk off campus with two Christian sisters. One sister was a chaplain for the New York PD. We talked about the wonderful sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Jesus did not die for just a few. No! He died for all mankind. I am now so grateful for the blood of Christ and the true love of Jehovah. It was so wonderful to be with two people that recognized my love for God and my fellow man. Julie, after being cast out by men I have finally realized that my salvation is from the blood of the true lamb Jesus. Men can’t rescue me. Only the precious blood of Jesus and the undeserved kindness of our loving God can. I judge no one. The men that have judged me is a matter to be taken up between them and God. I actually feel for people that judge because the Bible in no uncertain terms states that we must be loving and merciful.
I was mentally dying. But glory be to Jehovah, he gave me support through you, Anne, Tammie and so many others. I am now free. The spirit is leading me to #1. Get well spiritually. #2. Reach out to others that need encouragement. #3. To start loving myself. This is something I have never done. I am finally realizing that despite my weaknesses, I am loved!!! Yes, I have my God, my Lord and Master Jesus, and my new brotherhood. It felt so good to talk to spiritual people that do not judge me. My ministry right now is to help those needing comfort. Julie, from the bottom of my heart, I thank God for you and many others. You have been used in a wonderful way. I never told you this, but before I found you, Anne, and Tammie, I was suicidal. I was confused, depressed and felt so unworthy. You were used by God to help me. I am crying right now, because I am so blessed by the fact you and many other true Christians reached out to me. The spirit is now leading me my sister. I want to let you know that I am so grateful for your help.
Tonight, I am going to thank God for you, and the many others that have shown me that it is okay to live again. I no longer desire to live in pain and fear. I am free. Free because of the blood of Christ. Julie, thank you for being my sister in Christ. You, Anne, Tammie and all my new family are in my prayers. As for the man that told me I was worthless and the men that made the decision to announce I should be shunned, well you know, they are in my prayers also. Why? Because I am a true Christian!!!! I refuse to judge for I am just a little precious sheep of the shepherd.
I pray that you and your family have a blessed night.
Keep yourself in God’s love my sister, Joe
What a blessing to watch how God worked in this man’s life. By grace Joe was shown mercy to see God’s kingdom. By that same grace, several of us on the ministry team were shown mercy in being invited to rejoice in God’s harvest. As in everyone’s story, many along the road had planted seeds and watered them, but as the angels in heaven rejoiced over Joe’s salvation, I was singing with them in the Hallelujah choir because I was blessed to witness the harvest.
I asked Joe if it was alright to share his email in my blog and he agreed saying that he would like to share his story for others to be encouraged. If you’ve read to this point, I’m sure you’ll agree that his wish has been granted. Feel free to share this with others as well. Joe closed his letter by saying,
The God of the Bible does not want his creation to be in mental turmoil. He does not want us to walk around with a low self-esteem. He is a God of love and wants us to be happy. His precious son Christ Jesus died for all who look to him. In no uncertain terms the Bible states that Jesus is our mediator. Glory be to our loving God Jehovah and his son Jesus!!! May you be blessed today my sister.Your brother,Joe