“I could not believe it to be so easy to understand and grasp,” former Jehovah’s Witness says of the gospel
On the day of her wedding, Pat Archibald was waiting for her father to walk her down the aisle.
He was nowhere to be found. He had disappeared sometime that morning and did not come back until the afternoon. Pat's mother made last-minute arrangements for Pat's uncle to give her away instead.
"That was a very heart rending thing for me on my special day," she recalls, and an event that only added to the inferiority complex she had developed as a child.
The Jehovah's Witnesses who go house to house sharing their *beliefs — the ones who become the subjects of many boastful stories about how they were successfully sent away — that was Pat and her dad.
"I walked everywhere with my dad knocking on doors," Pat says.
"People chased us away or slammed the door in our faces.
"That hurt me very much as a child, and I developed a strong sense of rejection and inferiority."
She says she had no confidence, and no sense of acceptance.
"I never went to church," Pat says. The beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses differ widely from those of the Christian church, and although her mother was a Christian her father was set in his Jehovah Witness beliefs.
"But we often went to Pretoria, South Africa where my husband Jimmy's family lived, and they were all Catholic."
The first time Pat was truly exposed to Christian ideas, however, was at a funeral.
Min Shaw is a South African gospel singer made famous by her rendition of the song You Are My Love by Cissie and Willie Cooper. She was singing at the funeral as Pat listened intently.
"I still remember one of my favourites she sang: 'On the wings of a snow white dove, He sends His pure sweet love, a sign from above on the wings of a dove'."
But something else the singer said hit Pat "right between the eyes", she says. "I heard her say: 'Gracious Heavenly Father, please forgive me, a sinner'.
"How could she say she was a sinner when she was such a beautiful singer? Surely she had made a mistake. And yet I so associated with that prayer of a sinner.
"When you've been brought up as a Jehovah's Witness and hear that kind of prayer that you have never heard before, it surely impacts your life."
Pat did not respond after the pastor's message that day, but she started attending a Bible study, and says she was "very eager to know more about the Lord".
Pat was told even though she had made mistakes in her life and was therefore a "sinner", Jesus loved her more than she could even understand, and had paid the price so she could have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.
She heard this, and she knew in her heart it was true. As she told a lady she worked with as she was learning about all this, "When you have been a Jehovah's Witness all your life, the truth just opens your eyes and ears."
"I felt so comfortable, so wonderful, such peace," she says. "I had never felt that way before! From that background of such rejection, wow, how precious this was.
"The Gospel was so clear and simple," she adds. "I could not believe it to be so easy to understand and grasp. Jesus Christ died for you. If you believe it with your heart, you are saved from the consequences of your sin!"
Years later, Pat can see all the times in her life God helped her— to forgive, to love, to be patient, to stay with her husband for 63 years. He freed her from the feeling of inferiority that plagued her in her younger life. "Jesus Christ helped me," she says.
"When you meet the Lord Jesus Christ you can't stop talking about Him," she concludes.
"I stand in awe of Him. I just want to adore Him in Church lifting up my hands high to His glory."•