My name is Sandra, and I was born and raised as one of Jehovah's Witnesses along with 6 other siblings. From the time I was just a little girl going to kindergarten, I felt a special love for Jesus. I attribute that love to a very special lady named Mrs. Kayward, my bus driver. Every morning she would hold sing-a-longs on the bus reciting some of her favorite Christian songs. The ones I remember most are: "Jesus Loves Me" and "The B-I-B-L-E." I would go home singing those songs, which my mother never made too much of a fuss over but would encourage me to sing Kingdom songs from the Kingdom Melodies book instead. Singing to Jesus was to worship Him and that was a no-no because only Jehovah was to be worshipped. I couldn't help myself as the song says in our Christian hymnals, "There's just something about that name." There was something about that name that touched my heart and made me feel a special closeness that I had never felt before--not even for the Jehovah's Witnesses. I felt life when I sang about the Lord. He loved me, and I loved Him back.
Throughout the years of calling myself a Jehovah's Witness and attending the Kingdom Hall, I never forgot that feeling--that bond I felt with the Lord Jesus--but in fear of disrespecting Jehovah, I had to shelf those memories and feelings as only He (Jehovah) was worthy to be praised. As I became more involved in the organization and became a pioneer in the ministry, I tried to shake the feelings of doubt in the organization's teachings. I tried to ignore the little voice in my head and the tug in my heart to search out the truth for fear I would be viewed as an apostate and would loose the love, approval, and fellowship of my friends and family.
As I was out in service one day, I came across some Scriptures that troubled me. They didn't make sense and surely didn't support what I had been taught all these years was the truth. I questioned an elder's wife about the Scriptures and, as always, was told that it was just the Devil trying to pull me away from Jehovah and the truth. In the back of my mind I wondered if it was really the Devil or someone else--someone who years ago as a little girl I had given my heart to--my Lord, my God, my Savior Jesus Christ.
Still uncertain and afraid, I continued going from door-to-door feeling like a hypocrite, telling people about an organization that would save them from God's impending fury at Armageddon. I sunk into a deep depression and suffered severe panic attacks. I felt like I was loosing my mind. Then one day I was at this door talking to an old man about the current Watchtower publication when an overly excited woman approached me from behind. She asked me if I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and I said, "Yes." She asked me who my God was and I said, "Jehovah." She then asked me if the apostle Thomas had the same God as I. Again, I replied, "Yes." Then she turned to John 20:28 in my own Bible and had me read it out loud. I had never read that Scripture before and was stunned. Thomas referred to Jesus as his God. The Lord was trying to reassure me that I was not crazy in questioning the organization, nor was the Devil involved in my doubts. It was He Himself, the Lord Jesus, who had been calling out to me and trying to help me see the real truth as opposed to the lies of the organization. That event started a fire in me, and I began to do research on the background of the organization and comparing Scriptural texts from three different Bibles, those being: the King James Version, New World Translation, and the Greek Interlinear. I got down on my hands and knees and told Jehovah I didn't want to show disrespect to Him by addressing Jesus directly but, I needed to speak with Him for just a moment.
I began to pour my heart out to the Lord and ask Him to show me the truth. I asked Him to show me the way, and I would follow no matter what the cost. I knew it wouldn't be easy, so I asked Jesus to give me the strength I needed to leave the organization and tell my friends and family that I didn't want to be a member of the organization anymore as it was an organization based on lies and false prophecies of men who were led by the devil to defame the name and truths of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I had made up my mind that my love for the Lord far outweighed any fear of what people would say or think. Jesus gave me the courage of a lion, and I acted on His direction by writing a letter to the local congregation asking them to remove me from their books as a member. It caused quite a stir. I had to meet before the elders--my ex-husband being one of the men present as an elder in training. I felt like I was being sentenced to death. In their eyes I was. I told them that I believed that Jesus was (is) God and that the organization was one of the false prophets that has been misleading God's people. Then I shared a Scripture with them--the one found at Jeremiah 14:14: "They prophecy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophecy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of naught, and the deceit of their heart." Then I read John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God (the Fataher), and the Word was God" (the one who created), not a god." I continued with verse 3: "ALL THINGS ( not all other things) were created By HIM (Jesus); and without him WAS NOT ANYTHING made that was made." There was silence. Just like Daniel in the lion's den, their mouths were shut, and hopefully their eyes were opened. I pray so. Then came the true test of facing my family, especially my mother whom I love dearly. My eldest brother called me to say good-bye. My younger brother called to say that from that day forward I ceased to exist. I was dead to him. My sisters will not speak to me unless absolutely necessary, and my mother hung up the phone on me the first three times I called.
Now, three years later, she is coming around and carries on a respectable conversation with me. We even discuss what I believe according to the Bible from time to time, and she respectfully listens to my views. She has even stated that the points I have made make sense. The question is, is she just saying that to get me to shut up or does she, somewhere in her mind, have her doubts about the organization's teachings? I believe in my heart that she knows that there is more to the truth than what she has been taught and is anxious to hear more but is also afraid of the consequences--what the family might think. I will have an opportunity to share more with her this summer when she comes up from Texas for the summer. She said the other day that she wanted to talk more about what I have found in the Bible and why I believe what I believe. I believe the Lord is calling her out as he did me and is using me to help her see the real truth about Him, His will, and the future.
Despite the disowning of my other family members, the Lord has blessed me with love, forgiveness, and a hope for them that someday He will knock on the door of their hearts and remove the veil from their eyes as He did mine. It hasn't been easy not being able to share my life and my son's life with my fleshly brothers and sisters. But now I have been blessed with an even larger family--God's family of true Christians who love us unconditionally. The Scripture that the Lord shared with me regarding sacrifices we must make for His name's sake, especially where my family was concerned, was Matthew 10:29-30: "No man has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or mothers, or fathers, or wife, or children, or lands for my name sake and the gospel that will not gain a hundred fold of houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and fathers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." That was the Scripture that showed me what I had to do no matter what the cost. I willfully sacrificed my marriage, my family, my life for the love, truth, and grace of the Lord. I regret nothing. The Lord has renewed that special bond and that warm glow in my heart and that feeling of unconditional love that can only be found in a close personal relationship with Him and is shared with all those who recognize Him as their Lord, God, and personal Savior.
I am now a born-again Christian and have been singing praises and worshipping the Lord with great joy at Parkside Assembly of God Church here in Cortland, N.Y., where He continues to bless me for my decision to put Him first and the truth of His Word. I still have a lot to learn, but this time I'm following Jesus Christ and letting Him lead the way to real truth and understanding as He will never mislead me.
Mrs. Kayward, my old school bus driver, passed away a few years ago, I was told, with cancer and is living in glory as we speak. She also lives on in my heart and memory, and I will be eternally grateful to her for the love she shared with me of the Lord Jesus Christ which has changed my life forever. I am most grateful, however, to Jesus for never leaving my side even when I was lost in the falsehood of the Jehovah's Witness organization. He truly is faithful.
Much Christian love,
Sandra L. Sharp