Diane Gholson has received Investigator Magazine for ten years. Here is her story:
A FAITHFUL SLAVE FOR 43 YEARS – NOW FREE
A bumper sticker on my automobile says FORMERLY A WATCHTOWER SLAVE, NOW A CHRISTIAN AND FREE! A slave does his Master's bidding and I was a faithful slave for 43 years.
All I wanted was to serve God. I was easy prey for Jehovah's Witnesses. I was an honor student in the Catholic schools and could have repeated anything in the catechism from A to Z, but my family did not have a copy of the Bible. I was a newlywed, World War II had started and I believed the message from Jehovah's Witnesses that this fulfilled Matthew 24 and that Armageddon was just around the corner and if I wanted my family to survive I had to become a Jehovah's Witness. I would not need to die, I could walk right into Paradise. My whole life was built around that event.
My husband at one time attended a neighborhood church in Dixon, Il. Ronald Reagan and his mother were the Sunday School teachers. My husband often said afterwards that must be why it didn't stick since at that time Reagan only talked about Sports, Hollywood and Girls and in that order. Due to his parents' influence my husband came to believe the wild rantings of Judge Rutherford on the radio when he said ‘religion is a snare and a racket' and that "Millions Now Living Would Never Die".
We were tested and as the Watchtower would say "persecuted" immediately. To be faithful one of the rules was that we could not participate in war because although we would never go to heaven, we were told our citizenship was in heaven. As a result the government sentenced my husband to three years in Federal prison as a draft dodger, which is a felony. Ironically, I was pregnant with our second child at this time and twenty two years later this son went to the same prison with the same sentence during the Vietnam War. We would have given our lives if necessary. We were totally committed, believing we had the "only truth". We did not know the Watchtower had stolen the word "truth" from Jesus Christ. John 14:6
The war did not end in Armageddon and we continued to serve in faithfulness, raising four children, building Kingdom Halls, bringing many families into the organization, serving in every capacity possible. We became so adept at presenting Watchtower doctrine door to door that even ministers were unable to refute what we were saying.
We believed everything we were fed from the Watchtower table. We relied heavily on their false prophecy about the end of the world coming in 1975. As a result, we lived and breathed Armageddon, putting more hours door to door to "save" people and wrote letters to our relatives begging them to come into the organization before the door was closed.
Doing all these things caused us to cheat our children out of their childhood. They suffered because of the weird beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses attained by flipping the pages of the Bible, taking things out of context. They could not do normal things like saluting the flag, celebrating birthdays and holidays or playing on the schools sports teams.
To my shame I followed their rules down to the last jot and tittle, and let my mother sit alone in the Catholic church for my dad's funeral since we were not allowed to enter a church. I was blessed to have her live with me for 17 years afterwards. There came a time when I could not decide if it would be alright to buy the children a Mickey Mouse shirt, it might be considered worldly. Haircuts came to be a big issue and the dress code was watched very carefully.
When 1975 did not bring the end of the world, for the first time we looked at Watchtower history to find out "why?" Then we found out that "the end of the world" had been their favorite recruiting tool right from the beginning of this cultic religion. We found many others were disturbed by this turn of events.
We had been trained well by the Watchtower as public speakers and workers and we now put those assets to good use. We started a counter cult ministry before we left the organization. For a year, we put ads in the daily paper under the anonymous name "Christians" with a phone number to call for a recorded message exposing the Watchtower as a false prophet. Many responded to the information and were able to leave the local congregation.
Then we put Christmas decorations in our business window and within three days we received certified letters telling us to come to a committee meeting to discuss "apostate activities". We did not attend the meeting. Instead we mailed out material to every Jehovah's Witness we knew, telling them what we had found out about the Watchtower. We were then called individually on the phone and told we were disfellowshipped and in unison we said, "Thank you very much".
Now we could openly put on our "combat" boots. We put a letter of public apology in five newspapers for pushing Watchtower doctrine door to door instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That netted us many radio and Television appearances and churches called on us to help them understand how to deal with Jehovah's Witnesses. We had a part in the making of the film "Witnesses of Jehovah" which is the best inoculation ever against the Watchtower disease. We used billboards to advertise the showings of the film. We have started many support groups to help ex Jehovah's Witnesses enjoy the new life they can now have and to help others get out of bondage. We worked hard to get those we brought in, back out. One family whom it took three years to make Jehovah's Witnesses took every bit of three years to get them back out. They suffered much because their daughter chose to remain in the organization and then denied them seeing their 4 grandchildren again. This religion breaks up families.
I am so glad Jesus called me and did not give up on me. He lifted the burden and gave me grace and the assurance of salvation. Salvation no longer dependant on WT works! I do not consider the years wasted as He is now using me in this very special ministry. A word of advice: Be a Berean, check everything out before you accept the counterfeits at Satan's buffet! Give your life to Jesus, not to a cult.
(Investigator 66, 1999 May)