I can distinctly remember my first memories being immersed in the world of Watchtower authority. I remember assisting my mother during her five minute presentation on the platform of the Bridgend congregation. I was with my sister, who was older than me. She forgot her lines and I would proudly interrupt with the right answer. She was upset I was answering my own and her questions. I also remember we were one of the last congregations to have an old sister who played the songs on the piano, and rather enthusiastically as well, might I add.
My parents were born in the Midlands in England – my dad living in Leicester, and my mother living in Warwickshire. They met when my dad was 17, racing for the junior Leicester Lions Speedway team. A few years later, my mum got pregnant. My dad and mum got married and then soon after my sister was born. My dad was offered a job in South Wales in the small town of Bridgend, which he accepted and so my parents and my sister moved to Wales. Due to the location, that brought a stop to my dad’s speedway racing career.
My dad had a work colleague who would often tell him about the things he was learning with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. After a few months of these conversations, my dad came home and told my mum, “I’ve something to tell you which may change our lives forever”. My parents both embraced the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Shortly after my dad’s baptism at the Twickenham convention, I was born on the 5th November 1976. His baptism was to be the act that would seal my fate.
So, being born into the “truth” as the adherents to the Watchtower would refer to their faith, I was brought up and trained in all the knowledge and doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our schedule was for the week was as follows:
- Monday in our house was oftentimes when my dad held family Bible Study.
- Tuesday we had book studies.
- Thursday we attended the Theocratic Ministry School
- Saturday and Sunday Mornings we dutifully knocked on doors preaching.
- Sunday afternoon we attended the meeting for the public talk and Watchtower study,
- Each night my dad would read from the My Book of Bible Stories before we went to sleep. There was no Longbeard the Pirate or Peter Pan, but there was Abraham nearly killing his son, Cane killing Abel, Dinah getting raped, millions dying in a flood, and other heart warming stories.
As I reached four years of age, my parents moved from Wales back to Leicester in the Midlands. We joined the Belgrave Congregation on Checketts Road. In that Congregation, we had a brother and sister, Harry and Mary Bloor, who were both said to be of the Anointed Class of the elite “144,000”. These 144,000 are those who are supposed to be going to heaven, and we members of the “Great Crowd” of earth dwellers looked upon them with some sense of privilege and mystical awe.
At the age of nine, I remember it being odd that my mum used to make me say the prayers at the dinner table. She would cover her head with her hands if she was going to pray in front of the family.
In time my dad asked if I would like to become part of the Ministry School and start doing my own 5 minute Bible reading with an introduction and conclusion. I said yes, though there was a part of me inside screaming “NO”! But to refuse had greater consequences than accepting. After all, my dad had a VERY heavy hand.
So at the age of ten, I took to the platform and delivered my first Bible talk. I remember the reaction I received from the Congregation – it was one of congratulations and approval. I had no idea that what this meant was I was now an accountable member of the Kingdom Hall, and my childhood had officially ended. Sure I went to school and did teenage things as well, but my accountability and my actions, rather than being seen as the actions of a child growing up, were now under the scrutiny of the Elders of the congregation.
At the age of thirteen, I was knocking the doors on my own as an unbaptized pioneer. I even had a Bible study with a former primary school friend. Those who were to come with me on the Field Service recognised my “deep” Bible knowledge and my understanding of the teachings of the Watchtower Organisation. So much so that when a brother may have found himself caught short by the householder, I would fearlessly wade in and defend the good news. During my school holidays, pioneers would often ask me to accompany them as we went from house to house.