"A Horror Story"
In the beginning, I got the knock on my door in end the July of 1986, started a bible study with Jehovah's Witnesses, and was baptized shortly thereafter. Shortly after my baptism, I started partaking at the very next memorial the following year which no doubt, raised many eyebrows at my hall. I was questioned at length about my hope and was happy to defend it to anyone that asked. Some reacted as the Watchtower Society taught them that 'this could not be true' and yet some reacted with the words of 'that makes sense now.' They said this, I believe because I made rapid progress as a new Jehovah's Witness. Many had observed this, since I rarely if ever missed a meeting. In fact, I even made plans and attended the summer district assembly, which was only my second meeting! Many began to notice my progress, my interest in the bible, becoming well-versed over a short period of time, and my zeal for the field ministry, from the start of my spiritual growth as a new disciple. They thought that maybe, just maybe, I could be an anointed footstep follower of Jesus even as a new disciple of Christ.
My son Warren was nine at the time. I remember explaining to him why holidays were not celebrated and other reasoning for 'why' I had quit smoking and changed my life. I told him that it was up to him to decided to do this also. That I would not make him do this and that it was to be his choice not mine to dedicate his life to Jehovah. And as a his mother, I would strive to give him all of the assistance and loving advice and direction, in making all of the big choices in life that lay ahead for him as a young person.
He was a very good boy and as to why he followed me I had hoped he would develop a love for Jehovah God and God's ways like I felt I always had. When he was twelve he asked the elders to go over the questions for baptism with him and I was very proud. He also did well out in field service and really seemed to enjoy it. Also he was doing well at giving his "talks" at the Theocratic Ministry School that were assigned to him. All in all, he seemed to really enjoy his sacred service to Jehovah and in participating in the privileges available to him, at such a young age.
Earlier that year (1990), I was divorced from my husband of seven and a half years who had just out of the blue decided he did not love me anymore. He had studied for three years till the PO decided to give this study to a younger brother in the congregation. The next year that younger brother failed to show up for more studies with my husband than I care to count. And eventually my husband turned back to smoking and drinking and getting high on a regular basis. Of course I had said something about this to a few elders about getting someone else to study with him but by that time my husband no longer wanted to study. So when he wanted a divorce, I moved out and got a job right away, which meant I could no longer auxiliary pioneer. That same year I was injured in a car accident involving a semi-truck, which left me out of work. I was fortunate that the apartment I had went by income and I was also receiving child support at the time. And insurance did not kick in for many months.
I soon found out that when a sister, at least in my congregation, did not have a husband to go through first that the elders treated a single sister with no regard. In Aug. that same year, the only pioneer in the congregation, Betty, told the PO that I had not paid her back for some money I had barrowed from her when we had made a trip to Bethel in New York the past year. That was first time I was brought into the back room in this kingdom hall. There was no prayer said at the beginning of this so-called meeting. It started off with Betty saying I never paid her back and yelling at me about it. The PO and another elder standing there waiting for their turns. The elders told me that I would be disfellowshipped for such an offense because I was not admitting I did this, I denied it. Of course I was sobbing and asking them 'why are you doing this?’ Ones outside of the room could hear the yelling, as my son told me on the way home in the car. When I came out of that room, my son just ran into my arms and gave me a hug. My face was still wet with tears, as I could not believe my own brothers and sisters would do such a thing, as Betty had no witnesses or evidence or proof of any kind. Of course I brought the receipts proving that I had indeed paid Betty back just as I had said to the next meeting. I was 'thanked for bringing this to their attention' and then told I could go now…that was the response I got from those same elders. No "I am sorry" that this happened or anything. So I was relieved that I was not going to be disfellowshipped.
Later that year, I was brought into an elders meeting to be asked about another single mother in the hall who I had associated with. They wanted to know if I had seen this sister doing anything that a Witness of Jehovah should not be doing. I was puzzled and asked, 'why has something happened?' I was told that was none of my business and after many more questions and re-questioning (I was being grilled) to the tune of 45 minutes. They told me I could leave. I came out wondering 'what was that was all about?' In the hall area were other single sisters from my hall and two others. And from what I heard this was not the first time a single sister with children was being put under the microscope at this hall or at the other two halls. I was shocked and had no clue. Warren was playing with one of the other young brothers waiting for their mothers to come out of the back room also. I just said to come on it is time to go and he looked at me and said they did not make you cry again, did they Mom? I said, 'no, it is okay honey.' Warren's reply caught me off guard, 'who are they trying to get now?' I pretended I did not hear him.
A few months later in Dec. of 1990, I noticed that a young sister at the meeting was not answering questions as I was sitting with her. Her mother and father were friends of mine and Warren had sleepovers and played with her little brother Kyle. She was seventeen and very sweet girl. So when I asked her why she wasn't answering because I noticed she had all the answers neatly underlined in her Watchtower she just looked at me and started to cry and then ran off. My son, who had just turned 14 said, 'come on Mom it is time to go' and grabbed my hand and took us out to the parking lot. In the car on the way home I could not believe my ears as my son told me 'why' this young sister could not answer at meetings, as she was reproved by the elders for being raped by another brother in the congregation who was 18 at the time. There were no witnesses and the young brother denied it. Nothing happened to him, at that time. But less than six months later after he had joined the Army, came home from boot camp, he just drove his brand new camaro into a cement column in broad daylight. I guess he was not drunk or using drugs either. I later learned from rumors that this young brother had also raped his sisters and so did his father who was a ministerial servant in the hall but do not know this to be fact. But the sisters were reproved also, is fact but as to why…I could not bring myself to ask. Nor did I really want to know as it was too upsetting.
In Feb. of 1991, I learned my father had lung cancer and only 3-4 months to live. My mother had died in 1987 and he had finally got over it and was planning on getting married the next day but found this out instead. So he never did get re-married. He had disowned me more times than I could count because I would not celebrate holidays with him. But in his last months he changed his mind about my beliefs and me, as I was the only kid out of four that helped his fiancée take care of him on a daily basis. I still could not work but was still a regular auxiliary pioneer so this worked out for me. But watching my father die added to my health problems at the time. As I developed allergies so bad that sometimes my face would swell up then my tongue and so forth so I had to go into emergency to get immediate shots to reduce the swelling. I also had a spastic colon that would turn into diverticulitus at a moments notice. My doctor thought it was all from stress. I always tried to alleviate the moment by saying I must be having 'way too much fun again.' My father died in June.
Less than two months later, I was at home watching a movie with my son and another sister Barb with her son who was around Warren's age. I got a phone call from the PO that he was going to disfellowship my son for saying some sexual comments about another young sister in the congregation. He said he had several witnesses and already had talked to the young sister's parents as they were so upset over this and wanted action taken immediately. And there would be a formal meeting with 4 or 5 elders tomorrow evening after the service meeting. This PO, Rick Brown did not want to talk to Warren or anything as he said he already had several witnesses.
I got off the phone with my mouth hanging open not knowing what to do or say. Barb knew something was up and sent the boys to play in Warren's room. I told her about what Rick Brown told me as tears were running down my face, as I could not believe what was happening, again. So we talked to each kid separately and together. They both knew nothing about what I was told about. And I knew that Warren like this young sister so much that he (in my opinion) would never say such a thing or even consider doing it. I also knew this young sister's parents well. So I called them up and guess what, they did not know anything about this, nothing. They had never talked to the PO that evening as he had said. I could not believe it, the PO is lying? Somehow that did not compute in my head, I felt like this was all a bad dream.
Barb was not surprised that they were doing this but surprised I caught the PO lying. She was also a single mother but in another congregation close to mine. So the emergency elders meeting was called off as I called the PO and told him I knew he was lying as I had just talked to the young sister's parents and they knew nothing about this. That very same night, the stress of all this forced me to have to go to the emergency room at the hospital with severe pain in my gut, which made it difficult to stand up from diverticulitus. I was told by the doctor to bed-rest for 3-5 days with a liquid diet or he would put me in the hospital. That gave me time to figure out what to do.
So after discussing it with an older sister in my hall, who is the one that knocked on my door to begin with, I decided to Matthew 18 this PO. I looked up all I could find on doing this in the magazines. I did not have the bound issues but had the last twenty years in order in boxes that I had acquired them as a gift from a sister when she got the bound volumes for herself. I had talked to elder Almond who was not involved in this but he advised me on how to proceed. He told me to talk to the PO first, at the hall after a meeting. Then if this PO did not admit his wrongdoing then I would go to step two. And that was to take a witness with to talk with the PO at this home in private. I asked if it I should take a brother or sister or what kind of witness I needed. This elder Almond told me that a brother or older sister would be fine to take with. Best if this witness had bible knowledge of how to Matthew 18 someone would be best. And if the PO did not admit to his wrong doing then to inform this elder Almond so it would be taken before a body of elders from another congregation because Rick Brown was the presiding overseer here.
So I immediately did what Brother Almond suggested. I ask the PO if I could talk to him after the meeting and he agreed. As this was about 3 weeks after the incident took place, I started out with ‘remember when you called me about disfellowshipping my son’ and re-told the events that lead up to this first step of Matthew 18ing him. When he heard I was Matthew 18ing him, he looked surprised. But he would not admit any wrongdoing. So I talked to an older couple that had studied with my family when we first came into the truth named Fred and Puriel. Both could not believe this happen and that it must be a misunderstanding somewhere but agreed to help me "gain my brother" as was the point of all of this, I thought. So I called the PO and made arrangements stating this was the second step to Matthew 18'ing him. He agreed to a night to come over. I told Sister Puriel with as she has done this before. We were there for three hours going over scripture after scripture. The second time we got up to leave the PO finally admitted he had lied. He told us that his daughter was jealous that my son did not like her so she lied and said Warren had told her those things about that other young sister. He believed his daughter and acted without checking it out, was his explanation. I told him that there were no hard feelings but that I was relieved he admitted it and felt I had accomplished the "gaining of my brother" as Matthew 18:15-17 pointed out. Puriel was a little shocked that the PO did not admit it right away but also felt "we had gained our brother."
In Sept. of 1991, I had been auxiliary pioneering for over a year. Also had been working with the State Rehab program who had decided to retrain me for another job, they sent me to school for accounting. I was a part-time student as I was still sore from the car accident. The state was paying for my schooling, books, gas, and supplies. I had already been a bookkeeper doing payrole, accounts receivable and payable and even month and year-ends for various companies I worked for. Also my background in Hotel and Restaurant management help to make accounting school a breeze. And I was in a program that I could test out of certain classes as long as I scored over 85%, which I did at record pace. So I decided that while going to school part-time I could not only aux. pioneer but be a regular pioneer which was something I really wanted to do.
I had talked to other pioneers from other congregations and they told me to put the hours in before I asked the elders to ok it because that would show them I could do it. So that is what I did while going to school for three months. So I put my application in to Pioneer regularly. And then the elders started to take away my studies and give them to elder's wives and such. Which I usually did that myself especially when I picked up studies with men, I would bring a brother with so they could takeover. But these elders denied my application to pioneer with no explanation as to 'why I could not'. One of my studies begged me to continue to study with her as she said the ministerial servant's wife that was now studying with her, she did not get along with. I felt bad about this because later this study fell away. And I found out as long as I put ninety hours in a month, the elders would continue to take my studies and questioned me about all of the literature I was placing. So I started to lie about how many hours I put in and how much literature I placed. At this point I did not know what to do because I felt the elders were trying to 'kill' me spiritually. I was depressed. I remember sending many letters to the Watchtower Society at this time telling them of the things I had experienced also.
In early January of 1992, my father's will was being executed. As my father was diagnosed with leukemia in the 1981 and was in remission, he could never get health insurance or life insurance. So most of his money went to pay his hospital bills and such. Any assets he had were sold to pay these bills. But my sister and I did inherit a business from him. There was someone else running it at the time but we prepared to take over and also formed a corporation. This business was a billiard hall, which I thought would really get me in more hot water with those elders in my hall. In 1981, I was one of the top women eight ball players in the US so I had knowledge of the business.
In Feb. of 1992, my sister and I took over this already successful business. I had to quit school and slow down my pioneering. I had many responsibilities now and much more money. And it did not bother the elders at all what kind of business I was running. I guess they liked the money that I was putting in the boxes now. My son and I were now being invited to elders houses for dinner that in the past would not even give us the time of day. This change was so abrupt that at one point I almost 'tossed my cookies' on the PO's shoes when he stopped to tell me 'how nice it was to see me at the Sunday meeting.'
Also about this time I learned that the WTS did send in a brother from Bethel. And I was one of the brothers and sisters on his list to see. But he told me that the Matthew 18ing of the PO did not count because I brought a sister with on the second step and not a brother instead. I was not surprised.
But the terrible thing was I could not look my fifteen year old son in the face when he said to me that "it was all about the money" as to these changes of how we were treated at the kingdom hall. As if your spiritual progress was measured by how much money you made. He was right and I could not deny this. I tried to explain that men are imperfect and that this was not Jehovah's ways but Warren had seen too much. And after that my son did not want anything to do with Jehovah's Witnesses.