I had an opportunity to share this forum and Pearl's website to a friend of my niece that left the organization 13 years ago and was from my old congregation. She contacted me after reading my apology to my niece on facebook. (I thought it was for my niece's eyes only). I'm not facebook savvy either,...lol. She asked to see my 9 page letter I sent to the elders and ironically one was her brother. Her mom is pressuring her to come back by using all the scare tactics available.
I thought I'd share my 2nd response, since I'm pretty excited to provide some encouragement to someone who is genuinely searching. She has a little boy now.
Sarah, my heart goes out to you and I really do understand the turmoil you've withstood. Please know that spiritually, you are in a very safe place and as well-intentioned as your family is, they are only doing what they've been "programmed" to do.
I know it may seem like a nasty way to describe it, but I can look back on my past actions and know that I was the same way. The organization has changed a lot from when I came in back in the 70's. When you're a Catholic and then taught that there's no hellfire and the dead are just that and no soul lives on, it is like nothing you've ever heard of and makes perfect sense and you are learning from God's Word. I can honestly say that as a Catholic, I really never saw Jesus and his Father as one in the same and it was a relief to see their true relationship. Then to find out the kingdom you've been praying about is something that can be explained and the basis is Jesus sacrificial death, well what other proof do you need to know that this is the truth. These were things I could not let go of after I discovered the sinister aspect of the organization. There had to be a reason why what seemed like a loving atmosphere at one time was so mean and judgmental now!
I believe our Heavenly Father knew my heart and that I was one elder regardless of what the other elders were doing or not doing, that really wanted to take care of his sheep and helped me find the answers to my questions. I knew the organization wasn't acting Christian, but needed to find out if it ever really was and if so, what happened. I, like you, searched ex-JW sites and after finding out the real definition of the word apostate. It actually means a deviation from the Jewish faith and mentioned directly two times in the scriptures. The one most notable was when Paul was accused of being apostate when those trying to re-insert the Mosaic Law into the Christian congregation accused him of "straying". What is out there is actually the opposite of apostate, because most of it is true for starters.
The problem I saw for myself, was that the organization earned my trust and I never saw any reason to ever question them and it was always stressed that they were the only ones calling on Jehovah for salvation. Guess what, they did more than twist the scriptures in this regard, they literally changed it and the reason the religious community doesn't even consider the NWT as a serious translation. Even the teachings of the Freemasons found their way into the NWT, by referring to Jesus on at least two occasions as "Grand Master". Grand Master is the leader of the worship centers that the Freemasons have set up all over the world. This is all available via internet and I believe the Watchtower is paying attention to what's being said now, because Ruthie and I checked it out in the new Bible and they did take it out. But why was there in the first place!
When my "eyes were starting to be opened, I told Ruthie that it's like when a loving and trusted husband would tell his wife he has to work late, then some time later his wife finds two tickets to a movie in his pockets for that same night. When confronted, he explains that he and his (male) buddy had to unwind after getting their work finished that night and went to see a movie and since his wife has no reason to mistrust him, buys into his explanation, but now has this in the back of her mind. She pays just a little more attention to details and when another difficult to explain situation arises, his wife then starts to look for acts of betrayal and eventually finds overwhelming proof that her husband has been unfaithful for quite some time, yet managing to keep up appearances and constantly reassuring her of his love. How many women stay with their cheating husband? Many today actually do, to the chagrin of close friends and family that really do love them. This is what I see in the organization today and some comments from those I've personally talked to early on. They make expressions such as "I don't care if you're right, I'm gonna live in the Paradise and I hope you can come to your senses and be there too." They're blinded like those the Bible speaks of at 1 Corinthians 4:3 to the real "good news."
You mentioned Ray Franz and I read his "Crisis of Conscience" and about a third of his second book "Christian Freedom"and found it extremely helpful to see a behind the scenes look at the true nature of the organization and the battle that the governing body has been waging from back when they changed over from the board of directors to the governing body. What becomes very clear through much documentation (actual letters at Bethel) is that the role of the anointed has been diminishing to the point now where they have been shoved aside by the Governing Body and are no longer relevant in the organization. Ray didn't see that this was actually the fulfillment of the parable of the wheat and the weeds, where the weeds are not Christendom, the way the Society has explained it, but that just like in the first century, they are false anointed. Paul said at 1 John 2:19: New International Version
"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."
Christendom was never part of God's organization, therefore could not be the "weeds" that Satan sowed in among the "wheat" that Jesus sowed. Remember that in the parable, they were in the same field, so we should expect God's organization to be corrupted and that like in any field the weeds eventually become very obvious. I believe the "weeds" to be the governing body, because they now proclaim to be "the faithful and discreet slave", whereas in the past the "slave" were the whole number of anointed partaking of the emblems. When you see the actions of these men, you realize their "calling" does not originate with the Father or Son (Jesus actually chooses these like he did when on earth), but actually from Satan.
So where did the "wheat" (true anointed) end up? They're literally being disfellowshipped from their own congregations for not going along with the organizational lies being promoted and taught. I met two sisters back in the 80's that professed to be of the anointed when I went to Altoona to preach in "seldom worked territory" when I was pioneering and spent the evening talking with them. It was such a refreshing change from what I was used to and they were so humble. I remember them telling me that they would send in letters to the WTS for consideration and publishing and that was how the spiritual food was to arrive to us. This is what the anointed all over the world were doing, but after I read Ray Franz books, realized these true anointed ones had really been shut out of the whole process and those in the writing department were not of the anointed and just about everything was rushed out the door with little regard for Biblical accuracy. The President had the final say on what actually went into print.
There are many prophecies related to the "weeds" getting the upper hand at this time (many in Revelation) and that God will reveal the true "wheat" at His time.
Romans 8:19 (NIV)
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
After much "digging for hidden treasure", I found that many sites led to belief in the Trinity, which a lot of ex-JW's, including my oldest daughter Carolyn gravitate toward. This is understandable to me, because the organization had us so focused on Jehovah and how He dealt with the nation of Israel, Jesus role never really stood out like it should have. Jesus mediated the New Covenant and chooses those to rule with him and is his Kingdom until he hands it back over to his Father. Your friend was right in that it's pretty simple how we can please God and that's the kind of person we are in imitation of Jesus, who was kind and loving toward EVERYONE. We can't forget though, that Jesus did make something very clear:
New International Version (NIV)
17 Sanctify them by[a] the truth; your word is truth.
The expression "the truth" is nothing more than a catch-phrase with the WTS, but it should mean something to those of us searching for answers from God's Word.
This is where my search led me to; http://4womaninthewilderness.blogspot.com/
The articles are quite lengthy, but extremely supported by scripture. I believe, she is truly one of the anointed and I have posted some of my thoughts and observations as well on her forum: http://4womaninthewildernessforum.yuku.com/
It's a very comfortable and encouraging haven for those of us that have seen and experienced the cruelty and corruption of the Watchtower. As always our Father will always be there for any of us:
New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I'm sorry for being so "preachy", but feel blessed to have an opportunity to share some of the wonderful things I have learned which have transformed me to being truly happy and medication-free. Yes, I like most of the Witnesses I know would have to take anti-anxiety meds from time to time. Most still "in" have no idea of what it's doing to them on a daily basis,....truly mentally and emotionally fatiguing! Reading the Bible now is refreshing and not a chore like it once was and it's so clear what the truth really is. A lot of the "deeper things" are what's going to be revealed to everyone right after Armageddon and referred to as "books being opened" at Rev. 20:12 (NIV). It's a little complicated to explain, but this is not "new scrolls" that the WTS explains as if there was going to be a new Bible to tell us how to live in the "new system." And really,.....an actual 1000 years to become perfect with no Satan there to mislead us! Revelation is symbolic, so those without understanding are not worthy to know the truth. This was the same reason Jesus gave for why he spoke in illustrations and why even his own apostles didn't fully understand Bible truths until they were anointed with holy spirit at Pentecost in 33 CE, yet served as pillars for the truth afterward.
Sarah please keep in touch and let me know how you're doing,
Thanks again Pearl for your efforts in providing this forum and spiritual food as we strive to do all things for God's glory.