Carriers of a new religion
My story begins during the first half of the 20th century. During that time, my grandfather was a young man, residing on one of the villages of the island of Rhodes, the largest of the cluster of twelve islands called Dodecanese. He was a man especially drawn to reading, but with limited Christian education and discipline he became one of the first victims of our country of the organization which called itself at the time “Students of the Scripture.” With the aid of the organization’s magazines, he spread this new faith to his island. He married my grandmother, a woman of likewise limited education, and he raised with her three children with the principles of the organization.
My father was a rare man. Although the people of this organization, known today as “Jehovah’s witnesses” are self-declared as “pure” of sins, I know very well that this was not true back then nor is it true now. But they simply paint a very bright picture for those outside, while they themselves are quite aware of their shortcomings and passions, much like every sinful son of Adam. My father, however, was a man who displayed an exemplary goodness and stood apart from many of those inside the society, although he was not free from certain weaknesses.
He was raised to regard the Orthodox Church as “Babylon the prostitute” and to believe that the Orthodox Christians were deluded. Deep down, however, he must have been more reasonable, even from his childhood, compared to other heretics, as I will illustrate in the following accounts.
As a married man, while he shaved, he often chanted Orthodox troparia. On one occasion, my mother overheard him and asked in disbelief where he learned these hymns, since he had never stepped foot in an Orthodox Church. He confided in her that as a little boy, he had this curiosity about the services of the Orthodox Church, and he used to sneak behind the Church’s windows and follow the Divine liturgy until he memorized these hymns, all of this done behind his father’s back of course. My mother told him not to chant because it is a sin. He response was, “Why a sin? These hymns are correct, and they agree totally with the Holy Scripture!” He continued to chant!
After his death, I also discovered that while he had several books about other religions, the majority were about the “Students of the Scriptures,” the name of the mother denomination of the “witnesses.” After the break up, the mother denomination was called “Evil servant,” and all of its literature was banned from the circle of the “witnesses.”
When my father was drafted into the Greek army, he refused to carry a weapon, which led to his incarceration. He was exiled to the remote island of Makronisos, and he was tortured by people who considered themselves “good Christians” and “patriots.” This situation not only failed to convince him that he was in the wrong religion, it led him to conclude that he was persecuted for holding on to the true faith.
I believe that if my father had been approached by even one true Christian in the course of his life, he may have taken a different path. When he was serving as a soldier in Athens, he met my mother. At that time the “witnesses” did not refuse to become soldiers, but they refused to carry arms. Later on, while the government allowed them to serve weaponless, they began refusing not only the uniform, but the very identity of the soldier. In the end, they finally managed to somehow exchange their active duty for some civil service without further army responsibility.
My mother was born and baptized Orthodox. She was born a few days after the death of her father. My grandmother was a Greek from Asia Minor, and she came to Greece as an illiterate refugee. She gave birth to many children, but only three lived. She and her two boys survived the very difficult German occupation despite the privations. My grandmother was a rare human being. During the difficult years of the war, she helped many people, not from her excess but by sharing whatever little she had, despite being a widow with children.
Her firstborn son was also the first victim of the society of “witnesses,” who unfortunately lacked the necessary ecclesiastical experience and knowledge to see their trap. My grandmother and my mother, a mere teenager, followed not realizing or being knowledgeable of the existence of heresies. Thus, my mother was heavily influenced by the organization from a young age. After the death of her oldest brother, she continued along with my grandmother to spread the ideas of the organization, fearlessly facing the persecutions and arrests. After my parents married, my mother became very ill, and I wasn’t born until ten years later.
 Church hymns