My name is Lillian Cruz and this is my story
I was the one at first searching for truth from the bible. Therefore I felt and still feel responsible today for some of the things that happened to my family and me. I wont go into all the details of how we met the Witnesses except to say I called them. Over a period of 25 years, I bounced from Church to Church looking for somewhere to belong. Looking for the “true” religion. I realized that I had spoken to representatives of almost every Christian religion except the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Therefore in the winter of 1993, I decided to call the local kingdom hall and have someone come to my home. Immediately they offered a bible study for me and my husband expressed interest also so we agreed. We started the next week. Now we did not realize at the time what we were getting into as no one really does. The indoctrination into their interpretation of the bible began early on. We studied the book “You can live in Paradise on Earth” for about a year. During this time, there were subtle things I noticed that bothered me. For instance, there seemed to be teachings not specifically mentioned in the bible. (A governing body over the congregation, reporting time spent in service to elders, and other things) Also, they made a big deal out of not celebrating holidays, and no blood transfusions -this was based on only one scripture. For some reason I am still not sure why, I would suppress my feelings. My family tried to warn me to stop my study, but of course they tell you Satan will try and stop you from serving the true God. This is a self-fulfilled prophecy I found out after leaving the organization. And this is what keeps many people in early on. The belief that they will be persecuted for following Christ and thus any time someone says something against their study, they feel this is coming true and it ‘proves” to them that this is the true religion. Before we knew it we jumped in with both feet and did not turn back.
The first 5 or 6 years everything was going good. I pioneered a lot. Studied for the book study and taught my children about Jehovah. I never really studied the Watchtower though and since I had very young children, I never really heard much of the Sunday meetings either. Because I was always taking the children out of the kingdom hall when they fidgeted or cried. But I did begin to notice some things that did not sit right with me. For instance, everyone was required to study the same material and go out in service, although people are very different. They have different circumstance and abilities. But the very young and old were held to the same requirements. Also it did not matter if you were sick or elderly. You still had to comply with the basics of your duties or you would be labeled as ‘spiritually weak”. Another thing I noticed is the elders did not take an interest in anyone. They seemed out of touch with the problems the congregation was having and their talks seemed to always focus upon works. Another thing was that Jesus was hardly mentioned in the kingdom hall and the ‘faithful discreet slave” was often thanked for spiritual food above Jesus the head of the congregation. Then after the first few years when my children got older, I did read the Watchtowers. But this made things even worse. I noticed that they were twisting scripture out of context to prove their views. Since the organization gives you the WT questions and puts bible texts in the paragraph to back up the view they want you to have, you cannot get a different answer. Unless you look up the bible text in its context. Which is what I did.
After a while, I was getting really upset by how they were changing Gods word. And after a few years, I finally could not suppress the feelings I was having any longer. In addition to this there were all the other problems I was noticing. The last straw in one congregation we were in located in Hingham MA, I found out there was a known child molester in the congregation for well over a year. And the elders did nothing to warn anyone. One family even had this man stay over their house for the night with their young daughter present! Also my son who was 7 at the time was going to the bathroom unsupervised with this man in there. I only found out because a sister warned me about him but said not to tell anyone she told me. She had gone to the elders and they told her if she spread this around, she could be brought before a judicial committee for slander! Why? Because as far as the elders could tell, this man had not been accused LATELY of molesting any children. They just took a lets wait and see attitude. By the way, the Police department in our town makes child molesters register so that the unsuspecting public is warned. But Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hingham MA don’t do anything at all.
How can people who are considered worldly, and thus ungodly by the organization have a better sense of justice than God’s only True Religion? I told my husband I did not feel safe there with the children and at first he would not leave. That’s because he was a Ministerial Servant (like a church deacon) and had responsibilities in the hall. But soon the children and I stopped attending altogether so he finally agreed that we should go somewhere else. So we started attending a new congregation in Holbrook MA. In this one the elders were nicer but still the emphasis was always on works, works, works. They also were out of touch with the congregations needs. Many families were stressed to the maximum trying to keep up with all the works they were commanded to do. After a short time, the routine became very tedious and I slowed down in going. I told the elders I had personal problems and depression due to past sexual – abuse which was partly true. But the main reason why is I had no desire to attend any longer. You see while we were the Holbrook congregation, we discovered that a dear elderly sister in the Hingham congregation had been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. I went to see her several times over the last few weeks of her life (almost none of the elders in her congregation went to visit her). Well this women had been serving the organization for well over 30 years and raised 5 children in it. She was a widow and had a mentally challenged son. Did she not receive support from the congregation (except from a few sisters like myself and two others), but her last words to me a few days before she did were, “I hope I did enough for Jehovah to remember me in the resurrection”. After thousands of hours of works, she still was not sure she would be saved! Because the Watchtower Organization teaches that you never really know if will be or if you have done enough. This is so they can scare you into doing more and more works. I knew right then and there, I could no longer serve the God of the Watchtower organization. But I still did not know where to go or what to do.
I started to research the organizations history. Something I should have done in the beginning. It took me over a year to do and I went all the way back 100 years to the first President Charles T. Russell. Also I began reading the bible every day and praying to our heavenly father for insight into his word. This opened my eyes even more to all the false teachings and prophecies of the Watchtower. I even read hundreds of old Watchtowers from the CD ROM and found that they reversed so many teachings. And they did say the world would end in 1975! And 1874 and 1914. Now they teach 1914 only marked the beginning of the time of the end. They teach even today that Jesus appointed them as the only true religion in 1914 and based that fact on the teachings of their then President Charles T. Russell who they felt was “anointed” to teach the truth. But, what many Witnesses today do not know if this: They have over the years completely discarded ALL of Russell’s teachings. And if anyone holds to his teachings, they would be considered an apostate! I even read Russell’s “Studies in the Scriptures” which were the original books starting their own organization and which they currently do not even print. At this time of my deep research, my eyes were opened wide!
When I started even hinting to my husband that I wanted to leave and that I disagreed with the WT, the arguments followed. We fought about it day and night for weeks at a time. He was sticking to all the WT interpretations. We really thought at one time our marriage would dissolve. We were all in such an emotional state. I started to consider Suicide at this point. One day in particular, I had been fighting with my husband over the phone (he was at work) when I hung up I thought about taking an overdose of pills. Why? Because I knew if I left the Witnesses, I would loose my husband and kids to the organization and my husband would not want to be married to an “apostate”. Which is what they call anyone who disagrees with them. I had no one to lean on because if I told anyone how I felt, even my close friends of 12 years, they would turn me in to the elders. Then I would be disfellowshipped and shunned. At that point I felt death would be better as I would not have to suffer anymore-emotional turmoil. Interestingly, a sister (an elders wife in fact) from my old congregation (Hingham) called me. I forgot what for but she obviously did not realize I was not attending any meetings in my new congregation. Anyway, she commented on the fact that I did not sound well and in a last ditch effort for help, I told her I was thinking about harming myself that day. In fact I was going to take an overdose of pills. She did not even respond to what I said when she suddenly received a beep and said “I got to go take this call”. I don’t even know if she heard what I said! This was one other thing I noticed about a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they are totally self-absorbed. By the way, she never called me back.
When we hung up I began to pray even harder. Tears where coming down my face, I was shaking, I told God I wanted to kill myself. I not only prayed to Jehovah but also to Jesus (something taboo for the witnesses) but I felt I needed help from both. This is what happened: Immediately upon completing my prayer, I felt a calmness come over me I had not felt in weeks. I actually “felt” something touch my head and go all the way to the bottom of my toes. It was a very peaceful feeling sort of like God hugged me. I never experienced anything like that before. I knew at that moment that I was going to be o.k. And that I could leave the Witnesses and God and Jesus would take me in. (No I do not believe I was actually touched by God, I am using this illustration to describe how it felt to me) But I do believe God gave me the calm spirit so that I did not harm myself. Once I thought about it later, I realized how crazy it would have been and how I would have hurt my husband and children. But had God not intervened, it would have been too late. I officially wrote my letter of disassociation in 2004 and my husband wrote his a few months after. Of course, we lost all our friends and children’s friends we made over 12 years. We have had to rebuild ourselves and our family from scratch. But it has been well worth it. We are continuing to heal each day.
Before ending I want to say my husbands eyes did open to the false teachings of the WT. The only regret I have at this point is since leaving (OCT 2004) I have never felt closer to God and his son Jesus. I finally understand Jesus when he said, “ I am the way, the life and the truth”. I have a personal relationship with him and his father and finally am free from all false religion. I also now understand that Jesus did not teach a religion but a faith. The Christian faith. But my husband is still learning where his place is. For that I feel bad. Because I wish he had the same assurance and peace I have. But in time, I know he will.
Finally, the reason I am writing this now is to tell people to please do research before joining this organization. I wish I did. I can see why the Watchtower wants to close down certain websites about them. Knowledge is power and if I had the correct knowledge in the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of heartache and pain. But I am glad to be free! Lord bless every one of you!