Answering The "Call" Today.
I pulled out my birth certificate the other day. It read like this:
May 11, 1958; St. Mary's Church; Pointe Claire, Quebec:
James Bates, Son of Edward Vernon Bates,...was baptized in St.
Mary¹s Church, temporarily situated in Mr. John Rhind's Barn, Town
Beaconsfield, Province of Quebec, on this eleventh day of May, Anno Domini
one thousand, nine hundred and fifty eight.
Parents: by me,
E. Vernon Bates
D.A. Concliffe Priest.
Hey, I was baptized in an Anglican Church (temporarily a barn)!
All I could
think about at that time was my next feeding and perhaps when mother was
going to get me out of that girly white wedding dress she had me dolled
in. "Why is this guy sprinkling water all over my face for anyway?
let me out of here!"
Any Sunday, 1966:
"If I stay in bed and don¹t make a sound, maybe Mom and Dad
will sleep in
like last Sunday." I said to myself. "If they don¹t wake
up in ten more
minutes, it'll be too late to make it to church. I'll be free for another
Any Sunday, 1966
"Why am I here kneeling on this pew?" I asked myself. From
a distance I could here the priest reading while breaking a round piece
of wafer, "And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take
eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of
me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he has supped, saying,
This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink
it, in remembrance of me."
I knew it was almost time to stretch my legs and go up to the altar.
I liked this the best because the priest would always put his hand on my
head while I was kneeling and bless me. For some reason, I felt His gentleness
and peace reach through the priest¹s hand into me. I¹ve always
remembered that feeling.
As time passed, God, Jesus and church lost all meaning to me. My parents
divorced and I could see only bad things about Christianity. The Catholics
and Protestants were always killing each other in Ireland. The Jews and
Muslims were always killing each other in Israel, The Crusades, the Spanish
Inquisition, etc...All these hypocrites follow who anyway? It certainly
wasn¹t God. Religion was dead.
July 1982: My 1st wife and I divorced each other.
November 1984: I married again.
My secular life was going just as planned (so I thought). We had two
children, I started a small business, we bought. I thought everything was
gone. But things started to change. Janice (my wife) was befriended by
the Jehovah's Witnesses. She started studying with them without my knowledge.
Our relationship drastically changed. She seemed to isolate herself away
from anything that I thought was normal. Now there was no more birthdays,
or Christmas. I could feel a huge wall between us. Our two philosophies
on life were now opposite. I could even see changes in our children's outlook
about flags, birthdays, Christmas etc...Even some of their vocabulary
changed. This change was just too much for me to handle. I started drinking
more and more to cover my depression. I had been through one divorce already.
Am I going for a second? For the sake of the kids I stayed. But only that
'drink' made it tolerable.
My small business was going down the tubes. My dispatcher defected to
another company and tried to take all my customers. How could life get
any lower? My wife is a JW, slowly, I'm losing my kids to the Watchtower
organization,a and now I'm losing my business. Quickly, I salvaged my customer
base, but the damage was done. I could feel myself slipping into a very
dark depression. I sold my business. That gave me some time to just do
nothing. Everything seemed black. I spent a lot of time alone. My only
friend was my case of beer.
One morning, I woke up. The kids had gone to school,and Janice had gone
to work. I couldn¹t get out of bed. I just stared up at the ceiling.
There weren't even any thoughts going through my head. I just stared and
stared into nothingness. Everything seemed to be worthless, including my
life. "What¹s the use?" I asked myself. I dragged myself
out of bed just far enough to reach for a beer, than another, then another...,deep
into my familiar world.
As I scraped the bottom of the barrel, like a raccoon cornered in an
alley was by a pack of dogs, I said to myself, "Well James, you don't
have anything really more to lose do you? At the very least I should try
and find out if there is anything I can do to counter the effects on Janice
and Mike and Melanie (our two kids) before I leave them for good"
I dug up an article that a friend had given me years back. It was a review
on the book called "Blood on the Altar" by David Reed. I ordered
the book. This book was filled with information about the Watchtower. It
was also filled with
quotes from the Bible. I went to a book store and when no one was looking,
I bought 2 versions of the Bible. I went home and started to read some
of the quotes from "Blood on the Altar". It was interesting to
say the least. I decided to read the gospel of Matthew (my brother's name
is Matthew, so I decided to start there). Well, the feeling of His hand
reaching out to grab me while I was in "Free Fall" is the best
way to describe how I felt. I felt Jesus back in 1966 when I was kneeling
to be blessed at communion. Jesus had returned in May of 1998.
Two weeks after I started to read the Bible, a friend told me of a book
store called Apologia. She mentioned that the owners were ex-JW's. I had
to go there at once. I started studying at their bible study. And in August
of 1998 I was saved. Jesus had snatch me from the fire.
My wife is still at JW, but little by little I pray she can see Jesus
as the Way, the Truth and the Life. Living and knowing first hand how JW's
see the world has led me to start up a phone line to reach out to them.
Stephen Lay (from Apologia) and myself have started up a phone line/website
ministry for those JW's or for anyone wanting more information about the
Watchtower. Response has been relatively limited so far, but we are revamping
the phone line and website. Rome wasn't built in a day! This fall, our
goal is to have different weekly messages for any witness to look forward
to. If they
James Bates (Names Have Been Changed To Protect
Reprinted from The Apologia Journal - Fall 1999
- Vol. 1 No. 1 - What¹s Happening pg. 28
want, they will be able to receive free literature or they can even leave
their name for us to contact them. We are hoping to expose some of the
inconsistencies of the Watchtower doctrines and hopefully lead many lost
souls to the real Jesus.