Misconceptions of a Faith
I grew up in a dual-religion household. My mother came from a strict Catholic background, while my father was raised in a Methodist home. Religion, in our home, was strange. We didn't talk much about it at home, but I knew, come Sunday morning, I'd be going to mass with my mother. I have a brother, three years younger than me, and I don't remember a time in history when he was made to attend mass. If so, it had to be for a relative's funeral.
When I moved away from home, out on my own, I still- pretty much- clung to the Catholic faith... not, so much, because I believed in the teachings, but because that's all I really knew. I was permitted to go with friends of mine to their respective churches, growing up; however, the teachings were very similar to what I'd been taught in the Catholic church, so... taught me little.
I searched many years for the "true" religion... the one that would teach me the truth, and not just some teachings made up and rehearsed by a bunch of preachers. In my opinion, the Catholic church was not the answer. The baptist church provided very little for me, in the way of spiritual education. If anything, it just confused me more. I attended the methodist church a couple of times, with my grandmother, but it was too much like the Catholic church for me.
One thing I could not get over was the fact that, at many of these churches... if you didn't "fit in," you were nobody. Wasn't I learning, though, that God and Jesus thought I WAS somebody? Very hypocritical and sad, to me. I had the opportunity to attend several, different AME (African Methodist Episcopal) churches, which- at first- I wasn't too sure about. For one, it was definitely not your average, run-of-the-mill Catholic mass! It was more upbeat and LOUD than most churches I'd been to. Then, I discovered a Pentecostal church. The majority of the people here were very friendly and kind; however, it was just as LOUD as the AME churches I'd attended (with the exception of one, friendly little church... way, out in the country).
During the time I was going to the AME churches, a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses came by my house. I remembered, from childhood, being told that "those people" do not like me... because, I was Catholic. The whole bate-and-switch game, or hiding and pretending you're not home game... these were things I grew up seeing, when it came to "these people." As a kid, I just didn't get it. So, the day they showed up on my doorstep... I wasn't sure what to say/do. I tried to think how I would feel, if I were them, coming to a stranger's home solely to talk about Jesus and his father, Jehovah God. So, I invited them in. We talked for a bit, but it never really went anywhere. I simply said, I wasn't interested.
Fast-forward at least a decade later. We'd moved out of state and, again, were searching for that "right" religion/or church. I think we were here about 6 months or so, and... what do you know? Two more Witnesses show up on my doorstep! I simply invited them in (two very kind and sweet older ladies), so we could talk. This time, there was something about what one of the women said that made me think. I can't recall what that "something" was, but... I will say- every single time I asked them questions regarding their faith, the state of the world, other religions, why people were the way they were, they, both, used their bibles as reference to answer my questions. NO OTHER RELIGION I'm aware of does, or is able, to do that. I was thoroughly impressed!
I began studying the bible with these wonderful women, and learned so much. Everything I learned solidified my faith that there IS a God, what he is (and what he's NOT), and how life began, in the heavens, even before man or animal or plants were created. We studied in two, different books (using the bible every step of the way!). When we finished studying, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be baptized... baptized one of Jehovah's Witnesses. So, in 2006, I made my dedication to God, via water baptism. It was only the second best thing that's happened in my life... after the birth of my son!
Many of the same questions and comments come up (from people of other faiths, complete strangers, people we talk to on the telephone and people we meet in the ministry), and I would love to have the opportunity to answer some of them.
One thing I'm asked quite a bit, is, "Why do you call God Jehovah?" That's simple. I have to begin by saying, if you look in the bible at the scripture found at Psalms 83:18, this is the 1st reason why... because, it's in the bible. Some of the newer bibles, however, have taken the name Jehovah out of the bible. Just a little bit of research and you, too, can discover the truth of the matter. When we say "God," that is not a NAME, per se. It's a TITLE. Jehovah is God's NAME, and that is why we use it as much as we do. Can you imagine having your own, personal name, but everyone continues calling you "mom?" Seems kind of silly, since mom isn't your name. Mom is simply a title given to us; however, is not the NAME we were given at birth.
Another question people ask, is, "You don't believe in Jesus, as your savior, do you?" I will answer this the same way I do if you were to ask me in person! OF COURSE I DO! This is the basis for why we believe what we do. Jesus is our randsom sacrificer, because he loved us so much he gave his own life for us. So, when people infer we don't feel that way... not only is it saddening to us, but is also insulting.
We get a lot of people who wonder why we don't celebrate holidays. Without going into specific, extended details (which I would want to do, if given the time), I will say it like this: Take St. Patrick's Day, for instance. Many people celebrate this holiday (which is not found in the bible, and one reason why we do not celebrate it) for "fun." The same way with Halloween. The holiday is not in the bible, and- if researched- is obviously fraught with evil (ghosts, goblins, werewolfs, witches, etc.). Then, there's Memorial Day... a politically-motivated, man-made (like most holidays) day. We do not celebrate anything having to do with politics, the military or war. The bible surely does not say for everyone to fight, battle each other and cause unnecessary bloodshed. Quite the opposite!
One thing I will say, is this: Witnesses are highly misunderstood, and misjudged. They, as a whole, are a very peaceful, kind and happy people. If ever you see a Witness on your doorstep, walking down the street or attempting to talk to you while you're out, in public... take the opportunity to say, "Hello," and not just run away. It's not necessary to curse, call names, yell or result to violence when dealing with these people. Simply say, "I'm not interested." We do it to the telemarketers, the Girl Scouts, the survey people. What's the difference? There is none. Who knows... if you really start talking to a Witness and finding out what they're really about, you might just like us!