The Jehovah’s witnesses society counts 8,5 million members and is known by many, but how well do we know this congregation? Find out what drives them and what their lives are like, inside and outside the congregation.
‘A witness who is not talking about what he has seen or experienced, is not a witness,’ Patrick Haeck says. Patrick is a Belgian former witness and went from door to door for at least 10 hours every month. At some point Patrick was preaching for 90 hours a month. ‘Witnesses have a very busy life,’ Haeck mentions. A witness who likes to remain anonymous told me that she likes the life a lot.‘We are like a big family, we are always there for each other and see each other often,’ she says proudly.
Patrick left the community a couple of years ago. ‘People have the freedom to believe in what they want, as long as they don’t hurt others or themselves.’ Dutch former witness Rion Rijker also shares that thought. He was born inside the community and ran away from home at the age of 17 after years of abuse. Rion talks about witnesses giving a lot of love and warmth as long as you do the right thing but if you do something wrong, they turn their back on you. This happened to him and many others, like Jason Wynne. He is a former witness from Galway, Ireland and left the community back in 2001. Jason later founded the webside AvoidJW.org containing secret policies, documents and books from witnesses that he thinks the public should have access to.
‘There is a life after the witnesses. There is a lot of good in the world and you should not be afraid to leave,’ Pascal Mertens says. Pascal, a friend of Patrick, has never been a witness himself but his parents were. He helped his mother to leave the community after his father passed away. ‘It will not be the end of your life when you leave, it will be the start of a great adventure,’ he adds. Patrick agrees with Pascal. ‘It is like life after death.’
Patrick, Rion and Jason have now been living outside the community for years. How did they cope with leaving their whole world behind?
Find out more about the four men and what their lives are like. Listen to the documentary now:
– Are you a Jehovah’s witness and are you thinking of leaving the organisation? Or are you a former witness looking for information? Maybe these websites could help: Reclaimed Voices , AvoidJW.org, IACSSO, SAS-sekten
– Want to know more about the Jehovah’s witnesses? Check out to their website.
Text and documentary: Laura Van Alphen, music in documentary: CC0 pAtches and CC0 Biz Baz Studios both on YouTube Audio Library , CC BY NC 3.0 Chad Crouch (cut out pieces from: Lemonade, Backwater, Song Sparrow Serenade) on Free Music Archive Podington Bear soundofpicture.com, photo: CC0 Luis Quintero on Pexels