I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness

I was born into the truth, my mom and dad baptized shortly before I was born. I was born with a blockage on my bladder which later led to some problems with my kidneys. Growing up as a witness, I was taught about the bible, I learned its secrets and learned to love god simply for the stories that promised a new world.

My father only became a ministerial servant and could not become an elder because we were considered poor. He could not afford to buy nice suits because he was trying to set an example like the society said and pioneer. It was a circuit overseer that said he could not be an elder because of this. We weren’t rich like some because he didn’t have a college education and my mother was a housewife.

I had medical bills and we struggled to just survive. Sometimes it was pay a bill or put food on the table. Eventually, we found ourselves in a new congregation. But the new congregation had problems of their own. We were sent there because we were a stable family and the overseer thought that we could help stabilize.

We contributed as much as possible, we helped remodel the hall, assisted the elderly on a weekly basis, and eventually we became rooted. We made what we thought to be friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters. One day my father became a ministerial servant, and as it turns out, he started to make a little more money. He was able to buy better suits. Shortly after this, he was made an elder. This, we thought is what we wanted for our family. Most congregations have many elders, ours had three, for a time my father was the acting P.O. He tried to set an example and be a good shepherd. I always thought he was a good teacher.

Soon after, I graduated from high school and was moved to pioneer myself. Six months into being a pioneer, I was made a ministerial servant. It was then that I learned the truth about this congregation. It was flawed, broken, cursed even. There was so much sin going on in the congregation that it’s a wonder it still survived. My father was only putting out fires, trying to keep the congregation together. Because of this, and the fact that nobody wanted to change, the congregation hated him.

They hated my family too. They treated us like we were horrible people for holding true to what the bible says is wrong, for doing the right thing. I went to pioneer school with someone I considered to be a friend. For two weeks I was brainwashed.

Here’s the kicker, two weeks before I attended, my father told us that he was being removed as an elder. He said he couldn’t tell us about the reasons, that he had done nothing wrong, just that the circuit overseer was removing him. It was the same overseer that was teaching pioneer school. I had to be brainwashed by the same guy that was removing my father as an elder. The night it happened, I saw my father cry for the first time in his life. Not one person from the congregation offered to talk to him or us. It was the last time I stepped foot in that hall. I changed congregations after that, and then moved to California a few months later. We thought that a new start is what we needed.

A new congregation, new friends. HA! It was the same crap all over again. Treating us like crap because we weren’t rich like half the jokers there. I learned very quickly that these people were about politics more than the truth. I was made very clear to us that we had no place here. I realized this very clearly when my kidneys failed. I was put on dialysis and people treated me like I had some kind of disease that they could catch.

I was treated like I did something wrong. Again, we moved congregations. A new start, again. This place was even worse. Because I was so weak from my illness, I could not always go to or stay for the full length of the meeting. One Sunday morning, I missed because I just simply could not get out of bed from extreme weakness caused by anemia, and received a call from an elder. He said that it didn’t matter if I was sick, that I needed to go anyway. He said it in a way that was very rude, mean and accusatory. That was the last time I ever went into a kingdom hall. I looked away and have not looked back.

Did I turn my back on the truth? Yes I did. I’m not sad about it either. I’ve had a good life since then.

Stuart Tryon

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