The story of Nikos
The week before the arrival of Kerveris and Vourlakis passed quickly. I was not very anxious, since Vourlakis assured me that Kerveris would be uninformed. Initially, they visited our neighboring ‘church’ on the island, Vourlakis had left and only the ‘area bishop’ Kerveris came to our parish. Everything seemed calm. No one was speaking about my situation and Kerveris seemed to be indifferent. Thus, this week was almost up since this was already Saturday. One more day and then I would be safe and secure.
It was summer late in the day. The sun had just retreated and I was sleeping on a recliner at the coolest part of the house, the patio. I don’t recall what kind of dream I was seeing, but I’m certain it was incomparably better than the nightmare I was facing after my rude awakening. Klakas, the elder who knew about my problem, was standing on top of me.
“Niko, wake up! Kerveris is looking for you! I think he knows everything!” he said.
Instantly I opened my eyes losing all further desire for sleep.
“- He wants me now?” I asked.
“- He is waiting for you” he replied.
I took my Holy Scripture and I dressed in long pants. I then proceeded to leave with Klakas under the anxious look of my wife.
Kerveris waited in the hall with two other ‘presbyters’. We greeted each other and we sat down.
Kerveris opened the discussion first:
“- I knew what’s happening with Nikos from the moment I stepped foot in your ‘church’. I waited until today however expecting the presbyters of the church to bring this to my attention. Why have you kept silent all these days?” he asked Klakas, my father-in-law and Manolis, the three ‘presbyters’ of my ‘church’, with noticeable austerity in his voice.
My father-in-law exchanged a puzzled look with Manolis. Klakas proceeded to speak:
“- Only I was made aware of this ‘brother’ but I did not consider it necessary to inform the others, especially since this matter was rectified. We ran it by Vlassis and even ‘brother’ Vourlakis and he advised us that since brother Nikos does not doubt the organization, that it is resolved,” Klakas said defensively.
“- In this case, we must, inform the other two presbyters here what is happening!” Kerveris said, and he asked Klakas to give his total recollection on this from the beginning up until now.
My father-in-law and Manolis heard with surprise about my reasons fro resignation from the ‘diaconate’. Finally Klakas concluded by saying that someone in a position of authority knew this.
“…and brother Vourlakis passed this information over to me,” Kerveris added. “ . . . You did not deal with this responsibly!” he told Klakas. “Initially, this information should have been revealed to the board of the ‘church presbyters’ and afterwards to me! Vourlakis, as a ‘territory bishop’, was obliged to start with me as the one directly responsible!” then he turned towards me…
“So what do you have to say about all this?”
“- Brother,” I began, “ . . . as you know I was born in this organization, like my father. I don’t have another religion to believe in. My wife, my relatives and my friends are members of the organization. I don’t wish therefore to find myself outside the organization. The only thing I requested from the beginning was to discuss with a brother and to have him show me where the mistake of my research is. I concluded, based on the Holy Scripture, that Jerusalem’s desolation took place on 587 and not 607 BC. I will not persist, however, if someone points out my error! All the brothers who became aware of my problem up to now refuse to discuss it with me. Therefore, if you would accept to listen to me and correct me, then this problem would be easily resolved.”
“- No! I also refuse to discuss an apostatic subject. You must forget everything you read and you need to believe what the Watchtower writes!” he said, and he continued while turning to the others “… and now I will ask all of you something: What is the most important resource we have in the organization?” He waited a few seconds for a response, but since no one dared answer, he continued: “… Many would say that it is the Holy Scripture; not exactly! Our most important resource is the Watchtower.”
I threw a side-glance toward Klakas and I fought to keep from breaking out in laughter. He was opening and closing his eyes in shock from these last words of the bishop. He was giving me the impression that he was questioning himself if he heard well. Of course, I was not surprised in the least from this claim of Kerveris because I had already surmised this. However, I did not expect him to be so blunt. Afterwards he continued totally undaunted:
“... And this because the Watchtower has helped us to enter the organization! All religions have the Holy Scripture, but they don’t understand it. We understood it because we had the Watchtower*. Think about it! If you hand out one hundred bibles to one hundred people, in a short time everyone will be giving their interpretation! For this reason, we accept whatever the ‘Watchtower’ says and thus we have unity as a faith.“
“What an amazing philosophy” I thought, “we sacrifice truth for the sake of union!”
This being the case, then why shouldn’t I have union with whatever other religion around me? If truth is meaningless, then my religion was erroneous in dividing itself from its mother organization the students of the scriptures.
After Kerveris mentioned a few more vomit provoking philosophies, he asked me:
“Do you believe that this is the organization of God?”
“- Of course!” I answered, without volunteering that I considered this to be the case with all religions.
“- Then you must accept what the organization tells you without doubt”, he said triumphantly and he sat back in his chair with the air of victory.
“- Yes ‘brother’, but the organization has changed many things in the past! Since I have evidence that something is different, how can I believe the exact opposite?” I responded.
“- You must wait, if you are in the right, until the organization announces it.”
“- But this is precisely what I am doing,” I said.
He looked at me confused.
“- Anyway, I must file a report to the office about you and I hope that this topic goes no further,” he said and he motioned to me that I was free to leave. I imagined that he probably proceeded to skewer Vlasis and Klakas. Fortunately, they had covered themselves because at least they revealed this to Vourlakis. The only consolation was that Roulis had been distanced from the Greek Bethel. Thus, I exited the building and I headed towards my home.
From the very moment, my father-in-law found out what was happening he made contact with his friends at Bethel and he put their mind at ease attempting to convince them that there is nothing with which to be concerned. In addition, it seems that his endeavors were successful for quite a long time. In the meantime, up until the next nuisance, I continued to learn all this wonderful information. Additionally, I recorded and organized in written form not only the writings of Johnson but pertinent information based on my own research. I studied all the literature of the organization pertaining to 1914 in the last forty years, even in foreign languages. I went as far as recruiting my mother in law to translate some of these books for me. Thus, I had answers to all the argumentation that could be used by any witness on the subject. I collected all this information in a notebook and I organized it in chapters in the form of a book.
At the time Vlasis had told me what had happened with Vourlakis. He was heard saying:
“That shrewd Vlasis, he came to tell me this so he could exonerate himself so he threw all the responsibility on me! However, if something goes haywire I will be burned! So I better tell Kerveris .” So they were all passing the buck and no one dares to discuss the subject of 1914 with me.
The next nuisance emerged from the Hellenic Bethel in the form of letter. It was seeking to confirm from the local ‘presbytery’ if I could continue to believe that this was the Organization of God. The ‘presbyters’ summoned me one more time and I responded with the same deceptive answer. The interrogated me if I had contact with apostates and I responded negatively. That’s all I need, to consider my friends apostates! I proceeded to ask for one more time for someone to listen to my arguments and they all refused.
This subject was now becoming funny, tragically funny! The only concern of these people was if I believed in the organization. Klakas wishing to corner me ask me shrewdly: “but if you don’t accept the dogma of 1914, how can you accept the organization?”
“- I accept it,” I answered nonchalantly, “. . . why are you stuck on the organization? The problem is with 1914!”
“- But this is indispensable to the subject of the organization,” Klakas insisted and who apparently had understood that the claim that we belong to the ‘Organization of God’ is solely based on this date.
“- Then let this work itself out naturally! Don’t try to force it,” I told him and he kept staring in deep thought.
I cannot imagine that Vlasis was not aware of this. Apparently, however, he did dare to tell me, afraid that by logic inherence I could determine the inter-dependence of these two topics and come to doubt the organization. Yet, this was highly useful to me because I was literally hiding behind my finger. The ‘presbyters’ sent a reassuring letter to Bethel and I was spared once again.
Some of my friends who knew the situation would comment: ‘What kind of connections do you have buddy? ‘If I were in your position they would have cut me off one hundred times!’, ‘Here they annoy me for mere nonsense’, ‘imagine if I didn’t believe in the dogma of 1914!’
In reality, I knew that they were being truthful. However, I was going to push this to the very end! I was buying time to learn even more and on the other hand, I was not ready yet to find myself in the tempestuous-sea of martial conflict. My wife was already living in fear and avoided speaking with me about 1914 after my meeting with Kerveris. Thus, I was expecting the worst.
Six more months had gone by and the visit of another ‘territory bishop’ was announced. This seemed strange to me because the previous one had not finished his two-year term. My disfellowshipped friends, when they heard his name, forewarned me that he was coming especially for me because they utilized him in similar situations. His name was Theoharakis. My friend George had been disfellowshipped for a number of accusations but especially for calling Theoharakis ‘harsh’. Moreover, this accusation was grounds for disfellowship.
From the first day of Theoharakis arrival, every time he lay his eyes on me he would say “you know I do love you!” and of course I could hardly wait for the day he would call me to show me his love! Lo-and-behold one day he asked me to appear in front of the ‘presbytery’.
“What do I hear brother?” he said. “You are a false teacher?”
“- Pure gossip brother,” I said in a jest. “...A false teacher is anyone who teaches things contrary to the Holy Scripture! However, I don’t lose sight of the scriptures.”
“- Then why don’t you believe the dogma of 1914?” he asked.
“- Simply because no one has come forth to accept to show me where I erred, if you would like, brother I would be most appreciative of your help,” I said.
“- This is not my responsibility,” he said.
“- Then whose is it? Not a single person wishes to discuss this topic with me. Must someone come from Bethel? Why can’t we discuss it here and now?”
“- What exactly is it that you want, to speak about 1914? No way! If you wish we will speak about the organization’ he replied.
“- Brother everyone tells me the same thing! Yet I don’t have a problem with the organization, but with the dogma of 1914”, I said.
“- If you accept the organization, then you will also accept whatever it says.”
“- But I don’t say something different than the organization,” I added quickly to trap him, hoping to lure him into discussion. As it stood, I was convinced that no one would accept a discussion about 1914. Thus, I would at least get the satisfaction I yearned for even by trickery.
“- What do you mean?” Theoharakis nibbled at the bait, while all others witnessed this dialogue in silence.
“- I am saying that Jesus Christ became king at 33 A.D. and not 1914, and this is what the organization says!” I responded.
“- Where does the organization say such a thing?” he asked bewildered.
I took out the book with the unfortunate title, “Discuss logically from the Scriptures”. There it wrote the following: Jesus Christ became king over his church at 33 A.D.
“- Yes! But here it says ‘over his church’ during 1914 he became king over the nation’s” he said, pulled into the discussion.
Now the moment was at hand for my knockout punch.
“- Then why does the Holy Scripture write that he also became king over the nations at 33 A.D.?” I asked pretending I didn’t know.
Theoharakis swallowed the bait and asked, “- Where does the scripture say this?”
I had already opened the book of Revelation 2, 26-27 and I read the words of the Lord: ‘- and he who overcomes . . . I will give power over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron . . . as I also received from my Father’.
“... Do you see? Jesus Christ had already become king over the nations, back when the Revelation was being written! He had already received authority over the Nations!” I said triumphantly, while he was left staring at his scripture.
Suddenly and very unexpectedly, he jumped up like a spring closing the Holy Scripture.
“- You asked of Cesar, to Cesar you shall go!” he said while exiting the room and leaving me with the presbyters. They in turn told me that I could leave. I knew well what was behind the words of Festus, when the apostle Paul appealed to Cesar. These words led him to Rome to his death. In this same manner, I had appealed to Bethel, in hopes that someone from there would come for discussion. This gave Theoharakis the chance to dodge the responsibility of discussing with me by directing me to Bethel as per my appeal. I knew like Paul, that this was the final route before the end.
After his final homily on Sunday, I never saw Theoharakis up until his death.
True to his promise, he submitted a request to my problem. Fortunately, Roulis was no longer there. Thus after some clarifying questions from Bethel towards the presbyters of my church, if I believe in the organization etc., to my great surprise a letter was received allowing the presbyters to discuss this matter with me.
Apparently, the fact that I still believed in the organization made me seem an easy victim in such a discussion. However, not all the ‘presbyters’ shared my enthusiasm. Only one rejoiced, Michael, who had said to me: “if they cut you off without trying to give you an answer, I will resign!” and he meant it.
So when the designated day was drawing near, an unprecedented battle between the presbyters was in full swing, as two of the three (my father-in-law and Klakas), were attempting to escape the discussion. I was hoping for Vlassis to be present but was not permitted being that I belonged to a different congregation.
Nonetheless, Vlassis who had more foresight and understood this to be the end of the road for me desperately tried to win me over by bringing a former territorial bishop who offered to discuss this matter. This discussion would take place before the one of the ‘presbyters’. Thus all three of us met in the home of my in-laws. What became evident however was that they had no intention to hear my argument but were trying once more to convince me ‘on safe grounds’ telling me only what they considered beneficial.
Therefore, the former ‘bishop’ began to analyze the dogma of 1914 for me exactly how he would analyze it to an inquirer.
“Excuse me brother,” I interrupted, “I know these things! I want your answer in other areas! You must listen to me and answer me based on the verses I will give you!”
“- What’s there to hear my son? I will tell you what the organization says and you will understand it!” he said with his very many decades weighing destructively upon his brain.
I was really hoping for Vlassis to take over. He was among the few who possessed the intellectual clarity that would enable him to understand the subject in depth. He began to lose his temper however from the manner with which the elderly bishop was approaching the subject. He continued to speak without giving a chance to Vlassis who in the meantime began to fume.
Something needed to be done.
I needed to dive into the discussion grabbing the conversation because he had no intention to stop and listen to me. It was imperative for Vlassis to hear my arguments now, since he was giving me this opportunity himself.
“According to verse 21:24 of Luke, the ‘Times of the Nations’ began at 607 B.C.” the bishop said.
“- Just a minute brother! Nothing is mentioned there about 607! This verse refers to the fall of Jerusalem at 70 A.D.” I interrupted him and I saw Vlassis looking anxious realizing that I was ready to go on the attack.
“- What are you talking about my son,” the bishop said and continued to talk while Vlassis continued his loud exhaling.
“- Brother, I cannot accept anything beyond this until my present objection is answered!” I interrupted him again, and Vlassis used this opportunity to enter the discussion.
“- How do you know Niko that this verse refers to 70 A.D.?” he asked.
“- Even though I could likewise ask you, how you know it refers to 607 B.C., I will answer you. “Firstly, as I stated earlier, the Lord speaks about the fall of Jerusalem of his time. Secondly, if he were speaking about the fall of 607 B.C. then from 66 A.D. and for an ample time after the withdrawal of the Roman Armies Jerusalem was free. Therefore, if the Times of the Nations had begun at 607 B.C. they would have finished at 66 A.D. Finally, to put this very simply the two-versed translation of the organization analyzes this verse: “up until the time of the nations (gentiles) WILL BE and become fulfilled. This means that the ‘Time of the Nations’ were not, they had not started yet.”
“- Are these the arguments you were claiming to have against 1914?” Vlassis asked.
“- These are the most insignificant. I have verses that place the year of the fall of Jerusalem at 587 B.C.,” I said, but at this point the ‘bishop’ jumped in to continue his ‘poem’ from where he left off and he didn’t stop again until Vlassis left like an engine ready to explode.
Shortly thereafter, I sensed that I was simply wasting my time and the discussion ended ingloriously, without getting a single answer to my questions. The day for the discussion with the presbyters was almost at hand and I began to sense that Bethel left it in the discretion of the presbyters if they would discuss with me the dogma of 1914; the two of them were scrambling for an exit abandoning Michael all alone. One of them said characteristically: “If Nikos convinces the ‘presbytery’ that he is correct, I prefer not to be there!” when I heard this I made it known to the others because I wished all of them to be present. I further elaborated to them that my feeling was that each one was looking to 'shift the blame’ to the others so in the event that I would convince them, he could criticize the others for being convinced and he would remain unscathed in the eye of Bethel. Thus, I convinced them all to participate.
The one I had the most difficulty with was my father-in-law who was a man without much spiritual clarity; and obviously could not comprehend the seriousness of the situation. I remember in the evening after the last ‘church’ meeting before the discussion with the ‘presbyters’ I went up to him at the end and I shouted:
“- You should be ashamed of yourself! Your son-in-law is headed for disfellowship and you don’t show any concern! Instead of you showing some concern as the presiding ‘presbyters’, you are looking for a way to avoid the discussion!”
At this point, my mother-in-law came to the scene and she reminded us that the brothers are listening; after this confrontation, he finally accepted. So now, if I would convince the presbytery, the situation would become very serious and Bethel would be unable to cut me off without some consequences. The subject would take such dimensions that would cause everyone to know about the lie of 1914.
The big evening was finally here! I took with me four large sacks full of books. I had gathered everything I would possibly need to convince them about my position. Adding to my arsenal were plenty of volumes and encyclopedias of the organization available in the hall so I didn’t need to bring them along.
When they saw me with the sacks one of them smiled mockingly, the other looked inquisitively and the third looked anxiously. This last one was Klakas who would preside over the discussion. After the initial prayer request to have God help me understand the truth, Klakas initiated a lengthy analysis as to the meaning of apostasy and labeled as apostate the one who does not believe in the dogma of the organization. Based on this he began to discuss if we ought to have a discussion at all.
“But if an apostate is considered someone who does not believe in the dogmas of the organization, then we must not discuss with any non-witness” I said.
“- This is not the same!” he said and he continued.
I was anxiously looking at the clock and I was seeing the time moving along without yet having begun the discussion.
The subject for one and a half hours was if ‘we should discuss’. Finally, fed up with this, I stood up and lifted the first stack of books off the floor.
“Where are you going?” Klakas asked quite nervous.
“- I’m leaving! We came here to discuss 1914 and after ninety minutes you haven’t decided yet if we should even discuss it” I answered full of tension.
“- Come sit down! All right” he said, and as I sat down again he continued, “Perhaps though we should give it some thought if we should discuss it.”
I cut him off, “- Did the office give you permission to discuss this?”
“- Yes, but . . . “
“- I’m leaving!” I said again and I stood up.
“- Ok, ok sit and we will discuss it!” he said, “. . . but let’s be brief because time has passed.”
“- This is not my fault,” I said, “. . . you shouldn’t have been so long-winded! Now, you will hear what I have to say, even though I have to minimize my analysis on some things due to the brevity of time!”
Finally, for another hour and a half, I began to build up my case. During all this time, I was sensing that my father-in-law could not understand a thing. Klakas was looking at his watch every so often and I’m certain that he was not as attentive as he should have been. The only one who was very attentive, and understood everything, was Michael. He would even interrupt me at some points and he would continue my thought saying exactly what I wanted to say!
In order to portray a picture of the prevailing climate of the discussion, or monologue rather since they did not have any responses except at one point, I will refer to a small segment from the beginning.
I was quoting a verse from Jeremiah 25:12. After a few phrases that I read, I would ask them if they agreed with my interpretation. The interpretation of these verses was so clear that they were constantly telling me ‘we agree’.
“- Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed that I will punish the King of Babylon and that nation, the land of Chaldeans for their iniquity, says the Lord and I will make it perpetual desolation.”
“... So when the seventy years of slavery would be complete of these round about nations, the Lord would destroy Babylon! Do you agree?“
“- We agree,” they answered.
“- Oh no 'brothers! You cannot possibly agree! The organization here talks much differently!” I shouted with an artificial indignance, while I could hardly keep myself from laughing.
“- What does the organization say?” they asked very surprised.
I opened the book “Thy Kingdom Come” and I read its commentary on the verse, for them to hear. There it stated that the seventy years were completed two years AFTER the desolation of Babylon. All of us had agreed that the Holy Scripture was saying that the seventy years were completed BEFORE the destruction of Babylon.
“- Consequently brothers, what must I believe? What we all saw very clearly in the Holy Scripture or what the organization teaches?” I asked.
“- Go on! Continue! Time is passing.” Klakas said to get out of the jam, and I let him slide.
When I continued, anytime I asked them if they agree, Klakas was answering for all of them: “continue”, apparently he didn’t want to find himself again in the unpleasant position of disagreeing with the organization. Moreover, my spiritual proofs were so many, that it took an hour and a half just to refer to them collectively.
“So where is my mistake? Please show me and I will accept 1914 with all my heart!” I said at the very end.
“- We haven’t searched this subject so deeply! We will study it and we will call you again,” Klakas said speaking for the other two and we left.
However, this never happened. On the way out, Michael repeated to me that if they would cut me off giving me no answer he would resign his position of ‘presbyter’ and when this happened, he kept his word! What I couldn’t quite understand was how he could remain in the organization so many years after everything he heard.
Shortly thereafter, instead of the answer from the ‘presbytery’, I received a message that a tri-member committee would soon visit me from Bethel. It was certain that this subject reached a dead end. They needed to close my mouth at all costs. The organization was not disposed to tell the truth, so I completed my letter and I made one-hundred photocopies. Then I wrote a letter addressed to the presbyters of my congregation. I made enough copies for all those involved in the subject. In this letter, I reminded them of their responsibilities towards God and men. I also supplied myself with a micro-cassette recorder and I hid it in my briefcase; I knew that after the final committee, meeting the masks would fall and the lies against me would begin about the details of the last meeting.
When that day finally came, my wife was in a horrible psychological state. Overcome by blind fanaticism, she was accusing me that I am to blame for everything that’s happening to me because I don’t accept what the organization of God ‘is telling me’. My mother and grandmother were waiting for the outcome of the meeting with great anxiety. My own psychological state was not any better, but I was determined. I would faithfully adhere to the truth regardless of the consequences for me and my family. My mother-in-law already had warned me that if I were disfellowshipped she would need to fire me from my job.
They asked me to go to the hall of the neighboring church. They were most likely afraid of hidden microphones. However, the micro-cassette recorder implanted in my briefcase was ready to contradict every future fraudulent propaganda. I rode to the hall with my motorcycle and with many books. As I entered, I could clearly see mockery in their eyes. Apparently, they would not allow me the opportunity to prove them liars. I was relieved to see that Bananis and Vlasis would participate in the committee. I did not recognize the other two members. They introduced themselves and after a prayer tailored to my situation, the committee began.
As the usually do, they began to tell me about the organization. They made themselves clear from the start that they would not discuss about the dogma of 1914 because ‘this was their order from the organization.’ I fought hard to make them reconsider hoping to pull them into discussing 1914. If I were not reassured of their intention, I would refrain from speaking openly. Now and then, they were attempting to remind me how clean the organization is, compared to the outside world. I knew however that the wheat field (church) would also have weeds up until the end! A clean organization did not exist anywhere. Bananis encouraged by our blood relation was doing most of the talking.
“I have so many blessed years in this organization!” he said.
“- And I was born in it!” I answered him repeating the words of Apostle Paul (Acts 22:28), when he was revealing that he was a Roman citizen from birth.
“- Look up the verse!” said one of the other two trying to grasp onto what I said and he took me to the 1st Epistle of John 1,3: ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have seen and heard . . . we bear witness and declare . . .’.
“Do you see?” he said to me “. . . you must accept the things you heard from the beginning from your parents about the true organization of God!”
“- Just a minute,” I cut him off, “what does the verse say? About the things, I heard from my parents. In other words to ‘let things be as we found them’? Haven’t we been opposing this thinking all these years? No! The verse says something different! It says that the gospel must remain unaltered, as taught by the Apostles from the beginning!”
“- Of course,” he hastened to agree.
“- Thus what did the Apostles teach? About the year 1914? Not at all! They were waiting for the second coming in the future! Then, what do we teach? Certainly not what the Apostles taught, as I have crystal clear evidence that the dogma of 1914 is a lie.” I said making him turn red, when realizing that his argument backfired on him! The others were more careful. They avoided speaking from the Holy Scriptures. After this, I began to feel sorry for them! These people were in bondage to the organization for the sake of which they were willing to trample the truth. Up to this moment, I was afraid of disfellowship.
Now however I would be disappointed if they didn’t disfellowship me. I no longer desired to be a member of such a filthy organization, which had no interest in the truth. All my boasting up to now for being a witness of Jehovah had turned into unbearable shame! The air inside this room was thick with filthy hypocrisies and lies. I wanted to leave, to go out in the fresh air, to feel free from the oppression. Not to allow anyone to compel me to speak lies ever again.
I remembered that one time I felt compelled openly to lie to an orthodox. He was that church council member, the companion of the blaspheming antiheretical polemicist who was cursing Jesus Christ. The question was if all Christians should take Holy Communion or not. So I used the verse that stated ‘a man must test himself first and then to partake from the cup of communion’.
“- You are lying! You know very well it’s not so! (according to your faith)” the council member said and he was correct. However, at the time I believed that it was worth lying to pull him out of Orthodoxy and make him a witness, oblivious to the fact that my street partner was witnessing all this! Thus, I knowingly lied to him! Perhaps this is how they may have also felt, because they declared to me that they don’t care if the organization is right; I needed to submit.
From that moment on and beyond, I also threw away my mask.
I confessed to them that up to that point I kept contact with the disfellowshipped and I did not consider them apostates. For me apostates were all those who knowingly taught another gospel. I expressed to them that I accept all the Christian religions as part of the Church of God, as schools leading to God.
After this, the discussion took on a different dimension and tone. I was not simply defending my position, but I was explaining the half-truths I was telling them all this time so they wouldn’t think I was fooling them.
I was already feeling free! They began to criticize the apostates for a pile of things, which I contradicted as bad rumors and ‘mudslinging’, presenting to them the reality of things. Along with other things Bananis mentioned to me about something related to my friend George told to his committee; how he had seen Jesus Christ in a vision.
“- Don’t listen to him! He has lost it!” he said to me.
“- I will ask him,” I assured him.
Actually, the vision was real. George confirmed this to me. No, he was not crazy at all. In reality, the Lord strengthened him with this vision prior to facing the imminent committee meeting! At the time, however I did not believe in miracles biased by the faith of the witnesses mainly because of ‘sour grapes’.
When we concluded our verbal exchange, they asked me to wait outside. In a few minutes, Vlasis came to call me back in to inform me of their decision. Before we entered, my dear friend hugged me for the last time wishing me: ‘may God give you what they could not.’ And God was truly in my company in the long journey of my fervent search and he gave me hundred-fold far and beyond what I even dreamt. Blessed be his name!
They announced to me that they must disfellowship me. I would have the right to appeal within one week.
“Would the appeal committee accept to discuss with me the dogma of 1914?”
They laughed at my insistence.
“- So you actually think that you will convince the committee? You are mistaken if you think this way. They especially will not discuss anything with you! Their task is to see if our committee acted well,” said Bananis.
So everything was finished! I needed to say something, possibly to awake their dormant consciences. Perhaps this would be my last opportunity.
“- Do you know what problems you will create in my family with my disfellowship?” I asked.
“- Yes, but it must be this way!” they said.
“. . . If you want, you can come to the meetings, to sit back without speaking and without being spoken to. Perhaps at some point everything can be like before,” someone said.
“- You know well that this will never happen! If you failed to discuss with me now what I asked of you, how will it happen then? I only pray that God does not pay you back for what you’ve done! Of course I no longer believe this, but you believe that I will die in Armageddon if disfellowshipped. This means that by signing my disfellowship you are killing me, without attempting to help me! I would not want to be in your position on the Day of Judgment!” I said, and they remained silent.
“. . . In addition, I also learned something true from the organization. We must tell others the truth if their religion is fooling them. Now I am free! I’m sorry, but I will create many problems for you. All the witnesses must be informed about the lies told by the organization all these years. This is my calling!”
The look of Bananis hardened.
“- Then you will be treated as an apostate” he said.
“- It does not matter! God will strengthen me” I replied as I went out in the fresh air.
* T.N. So according to the “bishop” the Holy Scriptures were never understood (not even by the Apostles) because they didn’t have the “Watchtower” which was initiated in the 19th century – The plight of the darkened nous!