Laying the Foundation for a New Life
The Story of Nikos
At the time I had met different people who did not belong to a religion, but disappointed from their particular religions, they had isolated themselves to worship God as they felt best. One of these men was named Petros. He was a very nice older man whom I pressured to study the Scriptures with. He was avoiding me discretely, but we stayed on very good terms. Another one called Nassos was an ex-Pentecostal who had left mainly for dogmatic reasons. I had held discussions with each one of them form time to time individually. The second one especially was more knowledgeable than anyone I had ever met outside of the organization up to now. With Nassos we had started “a scriptural study”, but I was not in a position to convince him because he always had an answer ready that I had never imagined. For example when we were discussing the Trinitarian dogma of God, he told me:
"- It is not hard to understand how Father and Son can be one God! Think of the example of the mind. The Father is the mind and the Son is the Word".
"- Don’t you understand! The Son is called the Word! He is not the Word" I said!
"- You don’t understand!, he disagreed with me. The Son Is The Word! “In the beginning was the Word!” The gospel says in John 1:1. This is precisely why in Proverbs He is also called the “Wisdom of God”. Wisdom = Logic = Logos (Word). But this makes no sense!"
"- If he is truly Logos, and not only in name, then how is he a person?" I asked.
"- God is the fountain of life, and whatever flows from him is alive!", he answered. But I continued to consider this illogical, yet I found this to be an interesting thought, I kept in mind however for later.
In the meantime I met many x-“witnesses”, with whom I kept corresponding often. Now what ultimately matters to me was not the type of religion but if a person believes in Jesus Christ. This was enough to consider him a brother. This was a new state, totally different from the fanaticism that characterized me until then. I also had managed to find some people of my own religion and I told them the truth about the error of 1914. One of them especially, when I showed him some verses about this, he asked the address of Friskoula’s congregation and he began to meet at his congregation. He did not distance himself from the organization, because he was mainly waiting for me, not wanting to hurt me if they would suspect who gave him outside information. He left along with me.
Some other “witnesses” expressed with my ( ) no qualms that they no longer believed in the dogma of 1914, but they stayed in the organization for family interests. They were not so much interested in the truth. The vast majority however did not wish to learn any more beyond some simple gossip talk because they might “run ahead of the organization”. The very fact that the organization ran ahead of the Lord and changed the Gospel, did not interest them in the least.
The great convention came and I knew that this would be the last one I would attend. In this convention my secret would also be revealed to Bananis. Vlasis spoke to him as I had expected and he suggested to him to mention this to Vourlakis, the “area bishop”. He was a decent man, different from those leading the greek Bethel. He would keep this to himself and at the same time he would cover all those who became involved up to that point.
Vlasis did not fail to check in advance concerning the topics of the convention program, in order to confirm or dismiss my expectations for the impending change of this dogma by the organization. Of course, he was not aware that I already disagreed with dozens of other topics! In fact I had recently realized that the claims of the organization that it is the “conduit” of God and it happens to be “His exclusive organization”, was an error, because it was based on the dogma of 1914. More specifically, their claim that three and a half years after 1914, i.e. 1918, a certain “cleansing” took place by Jesus Christ and while up to this point he was accepting people from “all Christian” religions, after 1919 he limited his flock to the “students of the scriptures”, and shortly thereafter to their offshoot named “Jehovah’s Witnesses”. But since the dogma of 1914.
Was proven to be a farce, then all their ( ) about an alleged “organization of God” were totally groundless. In brief, all “witnesses” were compelled to unquestionably believe in 1914 without any proof, only because the organization said so, and reversely, its claim as the “organization of God” was solely dependent on 1914!!!
While beginning to understand this and not yet knowing the true Church of the Lord, I assumed that after the “apostasy” of the first Church, God continued to maintain His Church scattered among the Christian religions. I considered all these religions, schools leading towards God, and thus members of his “organization”. So when the “witnesses” were asking me if I believed that my religion is the “organization of God”, I was in agreement. But at the same time I silenced the fact that accepted this to be true for all the other “Christian” religions!
Likewise if they would ask me if I have contact with apostates, I answered negatively, because I DID NOT CONSIDER THEM APOSTATES! This way time was passing without yet having a serious [collision, friction] with the organization. I knew that lack of faith in God was forgiven. Lack of faith in the organization however, was punished by disfellowship, and this not at all an exaggeration. It truly happened to one of our congregation members.
This man was suffering from loss of faith. He was doubting the existence of God. On a given day he went to the body of “elders” and he asked for help. They spoke to him extensively but they didn’t convince him. Then they told him:
“It doesn’t matter “brother”, God will help you to believe!” and this is what really happened. The only thing is that he now came in contact with Friskoula’s group. So he went back to the “elders” and told them:
"-“Brothers” I no longer have that problem. I believe in God. But I now have another problem. I don’t believe this is the “organization of God”!"
They DISFELLOWSHIPPED HIM! Evidently they were placing the organization on a higher position than God.
Almost immediately after the great convention, the small “area” convention was commencing. The great convention was held outdoors while the second one was held inside a large hall. In this small convention Vlasis had planned to speak to Vourlakis the “area bishop”. This was a good idea because the program was calling for the visit of the “territory bishop” Kerveris in Salamina for a week with Vourlakis. This was very rare but it provided it with the opportunity to get near him and to let him see that I was not an enemy of God’s organization. This was true because at the time I still considered it part of the “pan-Christian organization of God”. I only wanted to have the truth shine forth.
Kerveris was a problematic “bishop” methodically avoided by everyone. He was disfellowship happy, like a referee with a red card. He was a chip off the block of Roulis and his psychological disturbances were pronounced. One definite advantage counted on by Vlasis, was that I had an active role in the program of this convention and when speaking to Vourlakis he would present me as a faithful member of the organization with successful participation in its conventions. So while being in front of the audience Vlasis drew next to Vourlakis and mentioned to him:
"- Pay close attention to this “brother” who is speaking now! I will tell you something about him afterwards!" Later he took him on the side and made him aware of my problem. He in turn showed understanding and agreed to keep secrecy.
During that convention also something totally unexpected took place. The change of the leadership of the Greek Bethel was suddenly announced. The method of this change however was quite extraordinary and it is worth mentioning. The speaker proceeded to say the following: He first referred to countless unacceptable (in content) letters which reached the American Bethel. These letters were accusing the Greek Bethel (Roulis and his company), for a number of things. The speaker said that expressions of the letter writers were unacceptable, referring to the “appointed elders of the organization of God” as gangsters and mobsters. These he said were expressions unfitting for “Christians”. After he forewarned that such letters would no longer be accepted in America and they would be forwarded to the originating office, his face took a happy look and he announced that the local Bethel leadership had just changed.
Yes! Roulis and Company had been distanced only after the endless outcry of the entire pan-hellenic body of witnesses!
I watched the joyful faces of all those present at the convention, with such a relief similar to the one a person feels after the puss is freed when squeezing a painful and purulent pimple. I also noticed the full of meaning looks of some of the bystanders when the epithets “gangsters and mobsters” were being mentioned. At last! Everyone hoped that these people would be subdued to an exemplary punishment. This was far from the truth, however. Notwith-standing the persisting rumors about a terminal illness of Roulis and his disfellowship in America, he continued to be a vibrant component of the organization over seas. He was not recognized there as of yet so they could still use him. As far as the speaker of the conventions goes, he couldn’t hold back his joy, something that made me think in spite of all he had said about the letters, he could very well be among the ranks of those who wrote them. I also had written a letter to the “governing body”. Within it I referred to the results of my studies and my hope and request to present the truth to the people of my faith.
Naturally I did not expect a response since the letter was sent anonymously. I simply wanted with this letter to exhaust all possible means, to avoid judging my religion unjustly, if there were a slight chance to motivate them towards the alteration of the false dogma.
My other letter was almost completed as well. I would only complete its final lines according to the unfolding of the events. Then I would duplicate one hundred copies. They were enough, for all my close fellow “witnesses”. But first I needed to see how things would progress.