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Angie Gallagher

And The Word Was God
By, Angie Gallagher
 
I was born into a 'dysfunctional' family, to say the least. My natural mother was and still is a drug addict, alcoholic and prostitute- my father is unknown. I was raised until the age of 15 by my grandmother and an uncle who also had drug and depression issues. I was not raised in any particular religion--They said we were Methodist but our family never once stepped into a church. I was loved, but life was hard. I was depressed, lonely, and afraid of life.

I found every opportunity while growing up to escape the atmosphere of my home--if even only for a weekend. I babysat for my aunt to whom I was very close. She is only 13 years older than me and was always more like my big sister than just distant family. She had 4 children whom I adore[d]. Every minute I was not in school, I was with them. A side issue also was that I made a lot of money babysitting for them and my grandmother and uncle would steal it for drugs. I was angry and we fought a lot. Not exactly normal teenage rebellion, I just wanted to be normal. I love my grandma very much but I could not handle being the grownup in the relationship. She eventually told me I could go live with my aunt if I wanted and it was music to my ears.

This aunt was called upon in about 1993 by the Jehovah's Witnesses. She was, at the time, with and abusive man- father to her youngest 2 children. She needed friends, she needed love and help and she had an emptiness that they fulfilled partially. She desired to be religious thinking it would solve her problems so she latched onto the first thing that came along and never cared to check it out. She had her fun on weekends but was very 'devout' to the Watchtower. She invited me over and over to the Kingdom Hall but I didn't have much interest in something I had never heard of.

I have always believed God existed but I didn't have a clue who he was or anything about the Bible. Jesus Christ was nothing more than a swear word to me. I longed to know God better & wanted to be loved and to be "good". Eventually, I figured her 'church' was as good as any to start this and I went along with it. They were so friendly and welcoming. I liked someone taking an interest in me and teaching me. Someone to answer my questions. It made sense and showed a way to do good for God. I thought it was just what I was looking for. Something didn't feel quite right but I ignored it because "this was how I was going to be happy".  I threw myself into studying and teaching others and preaching to everyone I knew. This lasted about a year total until God interrupted me.

I had to switch High schools when I moved in with my aunt and so of course, I had to make all new friends.  By God's provision most of them turned out to be strong Christians. Goody, I thought Winking smiley emoticon, I can preach to them since they already care about the Bible. My new friends asked me to explain my beliefs to them and I did -- but every time we opened the Bible they were very plainly right. Also at the time there were several stances I began to wonder about within the WT including works vs. grace, charity work, & social rules etc...
 
I also took notice of my new friends and what they were like-- not just the information we discussed. They didn't judge me like I had been taught Christendom would and they were very loving to me. They were not stupid, they knew the Bible very well and knew why they believed what they did. I observed them pray at lunchtime in the middle of a busy high school cafeteria and saw how God was really in their lives. I realized I wanted that kind of relationship with God- not a religion. The Kingdom Hall prayers, songs and rules flashed through my mind and it was all so stiff and sounded like they weren't  really expecting anything from God. Not answers to prayers, not love, not answers, not provisions.  I realized the JWs that I had dedicated myself to didn't sound at all as I imagined the Biblical people to feel about God and here these Christian kids were praying like they KNEW God. I realized what I had done was follow a group because I wanted answers and love but didn't follow the God who loved me.
 
All this made me feel as if I was failing Jehovah. That I was somehow not good enough and should be ashamed.  But I also have a very stubborn streak and was very stuck on not being wrong-lol.  So at my friends gentle suggestion, I read the Bible for myself, setting out to prove my friends wrong and me RIGHT by default, purely selfish reasoning at first! So I lay aside all commentary, WT or Christian and just read. To study I compared the Bible with....are you ready for this....THE BIBLE! Novel concept for me. I was used to running to a book for explanations. I even eventually prayed for help too. God revealed his word to me like I had never seen it before. Things I had read before suddenly made sense and there was Jesus~ waiting to save me. I accepted Jesus and was "born again" in Dec. of 1995. This is the fancy way of saying that I saw the truth and put my faith in Jesus right then, and committed to follow him wherever that led. 
 
The first thing I did was write up ALL my research so far, some 20 pages handwritten [not bad for a 15 year old!], of scriptures and brought them to my "Study teacher". I thought EVERYONE would be as shocked and concerned as I was over everything I had discovered. I was young and naÔve.  At first I was applauded for being so enthusiastic and wanting to make my faith "my own". That lasted until the second meeting. My "teacher" took all my research and researched it. At the following study She brought forth lots of information and photocopies [which I now know is all from WT materials] and presented "The Answers". Yeah. They were not impressive. Much to me seemed to be a form letter approach to an opinion on a topic rather than answering the direct scripture references. When I pointed out that she hadn't really addressed what I had asked.......did I miss it? She got very angry with me and declared they always knew I wasn't interested in the truth. And then accused "WHO have you been talking to?" As if no rational person could possibly come up with the information I had. Discussion was over apparently.
 
I also tried to talk with my aunt and gave her the information as well. She took it suspiciously and did not research it at all. After reading some of it she declared I was questioning too much and if I had to know the answers I could ask my teacher. I told her that I was, but also wanted her to talk with me too. She tried....barely. We'd get about 1 thought into the discussion and she would declare she didn't know but was sure someone in the Organization did, and that was good enough for her. They were smarted than her and she trusted them. She told me to stop asking.

The elders in the congregation didn't know what to do with me, not only was I questioning them and they had no answers but I had actually become a true Christian.   They advised my aunt since I was technically not her child that I be given an ultimatum. I was either to lie (their word- not mine!) and pretend I was a JW until I was 18 and then I could make up my own mind or I had to leave her home so as not to influence her children. They thought they had leverage on me because they knew how much I wanted away from my home life at my grandmas and they knew I would not go back there. They thought threatening me would make me do what they said. Incidentally this is illegal counsel to give because in our state it is a crime to kick out a child under the age of 16-- I was 15.
 
I told them I would follow house rules and not be "wild" or "disrespectful" but I would not lie about who God is or who I am, a Christian, not a Jw.  If forced, I would go to meetings but I would feel obligated to answer with the Bible only and not the WT. Well- that took care of that! My aunt told me to leave. Now. She would tell me where to pick up my things later but get out.

The Elders told everyone  I chose to leave- I ran away. The story was circulated I shacked up with my worldly boyfriend.  But no, neither was true, I was put out on the streets by them in -10 below winter weather in a bad neighborhood of an inner city with nowhere to go because I believed the Bible when it said, "The Word was God" [John 1:1].  No one was allowed to talk to me including my family but the rest of the members figured I was little threat being a kid and most soon forgot about me.

Walking to a friends house that January night I was strangely happy and at peace. I knew I had chosen God and he loved me. If I had known all that would happen, I don't know if I could have been strong enough at that age to chose the right thing, but the Lord was my guide and he worked a miracle. I had nowhere to go but He took care of me from then on in- provided Government money so I could rent a room through out High school and finished on time with honors in and internationally based program. He gave me a wonderful Christian man to marry- who was incidentally one of those first Christians to share Christ with me. He has blessed us with 2 wonderful sons.

After a lot of research into both God's existence, world religions, cults and the Bible we also have a ministry now to cults up here in MN in which we have spoken with hundreds of people and we correspond with hundreds more people over the internet. We also work on resources to teach others- especially Christian churches- about cults: Why they are incorrect and how to help them.

I lost a big part of my family that night but gained peace and love and a whole new family in Jesus. I miss them terribly every day and pray Jesus will reach them where I cannot go. A huge praise note is that My aunts children-- whom she was trying to "protect" from me by following the elders counsel to kick me out-- are becoming of age now and are leaving the WT themselves because of what they saw done to me and what had been done to them. I continue to pray with all my heart that this is the first step to getting their freedom and true happiness in Jesus. There is hope and life outside the WT  and  God is waiting with open arms to heal and love us.

<>< Angie Gallagher
[If you need Support, Information, Prayer, Resources or Just someone to talk with, please feel free to contact me/us at : adonai438@msn.com  ]

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