Baptism of the Dedication
In spite of my success in the “work of God,” I had not been baptized as of yet. Since my friend George was baptized before me, he kept asking, “When will you be baptized? I came to the ‘truth’ through you, and yet I was baptized before you?!”
“I’m not ready!” I answered. “But I will not take much longer.”
The reason for the postponement was that I
was still drowned in sin. I constantly kept postponing baptism, expecting to
first clean up my lifestyle. This is the same reason dozens of other Witnesses
had also postponed their baptism. At the time, I was teaching four different
Bible study groups, and yet I did not dare to proceed with such an action. Some
bad habits I had developed in my youth, which I still struggled with, were
holding me back from being baptized. Being ignorant of the real meaning of
baptism, I believed that I first needed to stop sinning.
Then, in a state of “purity,” I would enter the “pure organization of God.”
In reality, I lived a double life. I was one person when preaching and someone totally different when I was flirting with my old girlfriends in secret. I felt terribly guilty every time I went out on a date, thinking that this would be my last time, but I kept doing it over and over again. Naturally, George had no idea about these activities since he considered me such a good example. Besides my shame in front of God, I was also feeling ashamed for something else. I kept thinking, what if I ran into one of my girlfriends while ministering door-to-door! I would ridicule not only myself but the Organization as well! Actually, one morning, as I was about to enter a high-rise with my partner, I saw one of my old girlfriends sitting on the balcony. I panicked! I made up an excuse, and my partner and I left, heading toward another section. I escaped being ridiculed, but this close call did some good. I was determined to avoid flirting publicly and to “cloister” my bad self only in the very secret sins. At least, I thought, if only God sees me, He will understand my struggle and He will not misconstrue my faults with my self.
However, to make my life even more difficult, members of the Organization asked me to hold a Bible study with a teen-aged Witness who happened to have an older sister. It did not take me long to realize that this young lady was flirting with me very provocatively and with unethical intensions. First, I couldn’t understand how it was possible for a Jehovah’s Witness to behave in such a way. Later, however, I thought that because she is also unbaptized, she may fall into the same mistakes I do. Amazingly, in the face of so much seduction, I controlled myself with much effort and much prayer so I could keep myself from backsliding into my old evil habits. She harassed me to the point that the Bible study became a nightmare. I was truly afraid that someday she would manage to get me alone, and I was afraid of how I would react.
Fortunately, nothing ever came of it. However, all of these adventures still prevented me from being baptized. Deep inside I knew that some day it would come to fruition. But that didn’t stop my mother from constantly questioning me as to why I was still unbaptized. I kept answering her that I wished to complete some more studies first so the dedication of baptism would find me totally ready and well established in the “truth.”
About this time, I had come across an interesting book called Encyclopedia of World Religions. It summarized the most basic religions of the world, and it examined 100 Christian heresies. The book described how the origins and beliefs of each religion, but it failed to explain why they believe in such a way. Even though I thought that my study was fairly complete, I was unaware of the most basic points. I was searching to find in this book some religions that shared similarities with my own. Then I would consider them worthy of more research. The fact that I failed to find anything close, further convinced me that I was on the right path. As I finished reading the book, I promised God that I would not repeat the sins that I kept doing up to that point, and I announced to my mother I would be baptized at the upcoming gathering.
The next day an Elder began to prequalify me with the pertinent questioning in order to be convinced that I believed in all the things that would prove me to be a suitable candidate for baptism. Due to the great number of questions he needed to ask me, he came to my house everyday. Although I was found suitable based on my ability to answer his questions, in reality I continued sinning, transgressing against my promise to God up to the day of my baptism.
From that day on, and for quite a few months, I stayed clean, keeping my promise to God. I was baptized along with hundreds of others in the swimming pool of the Malakasa Estate of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I will never forget the emotional charge of that day. From the moment I found myself underwater up until the time I fell asleep late at night, I felt that I had an “open-line with God.” I prayed incessantly, and for the first time in my life, I kept all my senses and movements in check, fearing not to sadden God. Unfortunately, I did not manage to keep this “guarding of the senses” for very long. Little-by-little I began to return to the old agonizing struggle with sin.
My baptism of dedication was reason for much promotion in the Organization. I was given “privileges.” In other words, I was given much more responsibility within the congregation. I was now able to lead everyone into prayer during the opening and closing of the meetings, I could read the paragraphs of the quiz pamphlets, and I was able to participate in the different works of maintenance needed in the Kingdom Hall (the congregation hall). I could also help with the Hall’s sound system or serve as a doorkeeper or pass out different publications to those present. Outside of all this, I was also advancing in the knowledge of the dogmas of the Organization. Event though the Witnesses who read all the “current” publications were few and far between, I not only read all of them, but even the older ones. Thus, I progressed very quickly, and I exceeded in knowledge those much older than me.
In working my territory, I had covered most of the sectors so almost everyone knew that I was a Witness. I remember many times, when walking on the street, hearing from inside closed windows, “Look, the Chiliast is passing by!” This made me feel proud because I believed that I was being recognized as a servant of God. Consequently, I was also progressing in arrogance, judgmentalism, and fanaticism. I looked at my countrymen who did not belong to my religion as a crowd worthy of destruction as “children of perdition.
I was feeling a certain sense of superiority about my religious knowledge, but I did not cease to be very concerned about non-Witnesses. Characteristic of my fanaticism was the following incident. One day my mother opened a discussion with an evangelical Christian who told her that our faith was false and in reality all the Christians will go to heaven, not just the 144,000 as we believed. He also proceeded to show her some verses, which she found very problematic. When she returned home, she told me what happened, and she expressed some doubts about the doctrine of our faith. My reaction was immediate and explosive.
“Aren’t you ashamed? I told her. “Instead of convincing him about the truth, he convinced you?”
“But he showed me verses from the Holy Scripture,” she protested.
“If you ever tell me again that you disagree with the Organization of God, I will turn you in to the Elder to cut you off for apostasy,” I interrupted her. She was shocked at my words. Immediately she began to tremble and cry.
“You would turn in your own mother?” She said, weeping. I was unyielding. I did not pardon anyone who doubted the Organization, “the conduit of God” as I believed. I was relentless in this regard, even toward my own mother and my own self. Since then, my mother never dared to express any doubt for the Organization, so I did not need to turn her in. However, as it turned out, it was necessary to turn myself in! I will give an account of this ordeal, believing that it will offer much useful insight regarding my overall psychology at that time.
 Chiliast is a prevalent term in Greece for the Witnesses. It is derived from the number 1,000, or “chilia” in Greek.