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Coming together for a meal to remember a special lamb

Tonight we come together for remembering what Jesus has done for each of us.

During Jesus’s last days on earth, he new calamity was approaching. First he wanted to start the Festival of unleavened bread with his closest friends. He was very well aware of the meaning of that remembrance day every Jew had to ‘celebrate’. It was a God given festival he also wanted to keep with his closest friends.therefore he came together to have that evening meal with his apostles and the ones dear to his heart. Though for him it was not only to remember bloodshed of the lambs in Egypt and the passover of the messengers of God so that the People of God could leave Egypt and in this way could leave slavery from man behind.

Now Jesus wanted to get his friends to know his end was near, but that he would offer himself as a fresh lamb for God, giving his body, his flesh and blood, to sign a New Covenant with God.

Tonight we think of that Last Supper and read in the Scriptures what went on later in the night and the next hours when the sun had come up and before it became dark again.

We shall come to read what happened in the upper room and how Jesus took the bread and wine as symbols for his bloodshed a few hours later.

We shall also come to read what happened in the garden of olives and see what an agony went on in Jesus heart. The fear in him was great, and therefore he asked God to release him from the great tragedy that was in his path. But, he had sufficient faith to finish the prayer with,

“not my will, but yours”,

trusting God with his eternal fate.

We are expected to have Jesus type of faith, trusting God even unto death, this is how we save our eternal life. If we love our physical life too much, being afraid to die, then we risk losing our eternal life. We must learn to trust God completely, knowing he chooses when we slip into the beyond.

Jesus as a man of flesh and blood could really die. God is the only One Who cannot die. But Jesus like us was a mortal who had to trust the promise of God. Doing God His Will, he gave himself as a ransom for our sins. He died at the stake and was put in a grave. But we shall read also how after three days in hell (the grave) Jesus was taken out of the dead, as an example for what can happen also to us.

All those events we shall remember tonight, are of such importance that they may be part of the most important days of our Christian church year.

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Additional reading

  1. Actions to be a reflection of openness of heart
  2. Solution for Willing hearts filled with gifts
  3. Commentary on Parashat Tazria
  4. 9 Adar and bickering or loving followers of the Torah preparing for Pesach
  5. Purification and perfection
  6. Shabbat HaGadol in preparation for Pesach
  7. Symptom of tzara’at a white spot on the flesh
  8. Search for any remnant of chametz
  9. Thinking about fear for the Loving God and an Invitation for 14 Nisan
  10. A meal as a mitzvah so that every generation would remember
  11. Torah Portion – Pesach B
  12. Observance of a day to Remember
  13. Celebrations pointing to events of ultimate meaning
  14. This day shall be unto you for a memorial and you shall keep it a feast to the Most High God
  15. Able to celebrate the Passover in all of its prophetic fulfilment
  16. A great evening and special days to look forward in 2019
  17. Most important day in Christian year
  18. Lost senses or a clear focus on the one at the stake
  19. Worthy partakers of the body of Christ
  20. 1691 years ago on June the 20th in 325
  21. Peter Cottontail and a Bunny laying Eastereggs

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Further related

  1. April 18, 2019 Maundy Thursday-The Lord of Life, Given for Us -Luke 22:7-23
  2. Maundy Thursday
  3. Maundy Thursday – Breaking the New Commandment
  4. Bridget of Kildare: “Thy most worthy Passion”
  5. Last Day on Earth
  6. INRI Appam
  7. Christ-Defining Moment (Sermon)
  8. 14. Nisan Abendmahl Gedächtnismahl Todestag Jesus Christus
  9. The Date of Christ’s Dead; Catholics Got It Right?
  10. The Silence of the Tomb

Fellowship over meals

After God made a covenant with the People of Israel at Mount Sinai, Moses and the 70 leaders of Israel

“saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:11)

the did not literally saw God but felt His nearness. Every year Gods People also came together for a special meal, remembering how the Most High was willing to come to the help of those that worshipped Him. It was the most significant meal in the Tanakh (Old Testament) that God required the People to eat and as such Jesus (the Nazarene Jeshua, being a devout Jew) also took every year, as required by Scriptures, the occasion to have a Passover meal with those he loved.

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

(Exodus 12:14-17 KJB:PCE)

Jesus had more than once had meals with common people, sinners and publicans as well intimate meals with his beloved ones. We may not forget it was not generally accepted to have friendship with publican, because they were detested by the Jews at that time, because they were the tax collectors and had a reputation of adding their own greedy motives to the amount they collected. Just like the fishermen, when the master teachers asked the tax-collector Matthew to follow him, he went with Jesus, who wanted those who wanted to be his disciples to follow him in his word and not to be slaves of sin. When Jesus knew his time was coming to an end the master wanted to have the yearly memorial meal with his beloved in an upper-room in Jerusalem.

This coming week, on the first night of Passover (Passover Seder: Friday, April 19), believers who participate in the traditional Jewish Passover meal (known as a Seder) will have the opportunity to celebrate and enter into fellowship with Jeshua (Jesus Christ) as he instructed his disciples to do, the night he was betrayed and arrested.

Over the centuries, this Passover meal evolved into a lengthy ritual, and we don’t know for certain which parts of the custom existed at the time of Jeshua. We do know that Messiah’s last meal with his disciples included the breaking of bread and drinking of wine, as do Jewish meals to this day, and that is the part Jeshua or Jesus wants us to remember the most.

As Jeshua’s disciples gathered together for their final meal with him, Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and said,

“This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).

In Christendom we can find lots of people who first of all think Jesus is God, Who would have come to earth and Who would through a mysterious process come into the bread itself. This is called transubstantiation and is practised by Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians, such as Greek, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, etc. as well as other denominations.

However, in the ancient Jewish practice of sacrificial offerings that God instituted, nothing ever transformed from one substance into another substance.  Rather, most of the animal offerings were killed and eaten.

When Jesus said

“This is my body”

he did not have the intention to have those around him to believe the bread would have become part of his body.

Jesus often spoke about himself in metaphors, especially in terms of bread and life.

He said,

“I am the bread of life”

and

 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”  (John 6:35, 51)

Throughout history we can see how God provide the food (literal and spiritual) for His people. The manna was bread for man. The spiritual manna now was this sent one from God, the Nazarene master teacher Jeshua, Jesus Christ.

Jesus his teaching about eating his body and drinking his blood should be taken as a figure of speech, having the spiritual manna provided and represented by those symbols.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
(John 6:53-58 KJB:PCE)

Symbolically consuming the Word of God is not a foreign concept in Judaism and Jesus is seen as that Word of God having come into the flesh.

When we shall come together this Friday night we shall have a gathering where we remember those last hours of our master teacher. Assembled we shall feel united with brothers and sisters all over the world, gathering in private houses or in prayer halls (Kingdom halls or churches).

When we at the meeting come to eat the bread and drink the wine at the Passover meal this coming Friday night (April 19), we shall remember how we have been delivered from an eternal spiritual death that God provided through the sacrifice of His only begotten beloved son Jesus (Jeshua) him being
“the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
With our sins paid for, his sacrifice heals any broken fellowship we had with God so we can freely commune with Him.
Coming together several times a year, we remember that moment of the Last Supper and once a year we remember it especially for two reasons, the liberation of Israel from Egypt, standing for the liberation of slavery from man, and secondly the liberation from the curse of death, by Jesus giving himself as a ransom for the sins of all.
All those meals we share in the year are just a reflection of that exceptional meal Jesus had in Jerusalem. The one night of fellowship on 14 Nisan is especially to remember those liberation acts provided by the Most High. By our gathering we show our thankfulness, but also our unity with all those who remember that Pesach Seder, all over the world. With all of them we have a united fellowship as brothers and sisters, being part of One Great Family, as children of God.
Christ has made know the path of freedom by his word to those who believe him and live in the truth. When calling ourselves “Christian”, “Jeshuaist” or “children of God” we should show others our unity and our “family”, showing them we are really following the real Christ and not the false dogmatic person who is part of a so called “holy Trinity”. Jesus worshipped not himself, but his heavenly Father, the Only One true God, the God of Abraham Who is an eternal Spirit (having no beginning or no birth and no end or no death). At the Memorial Meal Jesus had with his apostles he honoured that Singular God and expects from all his followers also to praise that One Supreme Being Who gave light and salvation to the world.
So, let us come together Friday night to remember how the Most High provided for the liberation of Israel and provided also for a lamb that brought salvation for Jews and non-Jews, to be liberated from the chains of death, being thankful that those who live in Christ’s word are free.
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Additional reading

  1. Egypt, Moshe and Those who never felt they belonged there
  2. At the Shabbat HaChodesh: readings about blood, liberation and purification
  3. Commentary on Parashat Tazria
  4. Why Fuss over a Little Leaven (Yeast)?
  5. Purification and perfection
  6. Shabbat HaGadol in preparation for Pesach

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Related articles

  1. Leaving Egypt – the story of our deliverance
  2. You don’t have to try to be children of God [1064a]
  3. Adopted by God
  4. Children In His Arms
  5. Bible verses on Children of God.
  6. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” — Galatians 3:26
  7. A Gift from God
  8. How Do We Make a Difference as a Christian? (Part 3)
  9. Prayer: Our Home is in You (Genesis 17)
  10. Day 10: He Ate with Publicans and Sinners
  11. Prepping For Pesach
  12. 4 Ways Of Personal Preparation For Easter
  13. I Need Your Help: Invite Someone Extra to Your Seder – Shabbat HaChodesh 5779
  14. Pesach: Jumping for Passover (Part 1/2) ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein
  15. Day 11: Go and Do Likewise
  16. Daily Scripture, 4-10-19
  17. “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.” ~Apostle Paul
  18. Let My People Go!
  19. Torah Portion – Pesach A
  20. Torah Portion – Pesach B
  21. Torah Portion Bo
  22. God’s name on Seder Night
  23. Faith and courage at Pesach time
  24. The Order of the Passover Seder
  25. Passover Pieces
  26. For the Seder-challenged
  27. The Usual Suspects of… Pesach Prep
  28. Here’s how to connect with Or Shalom over Passover
  29. Pesach – The Feast of Passover
  30. My Pascha as of the lasts few weeks
  31. Pascha Basket Cover
  32. Passover Exodus
  33. The Gospel of Luke – The Passover MealThe Gospel of Luke: Teaching at the Passover Table
  34. Lords Supper #Communion
  35. Palm Sunday, Passover and The Passion of Christ
  36. Holiest of holy days: For Only 4th Time in a Century, Passover and Good Friday Coincide
  37. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ…please wake up!
  38. Keeping Passover as a Believer in Jesus
  39. Easter, Passover and a lot of candy

Meldpunt voor seksueel misbruik bij getuigen van Jehova: “Dit is het topje van de ijsberg”

Op 27 maart laatst leden spraken spraken in het programma van de Vlaamse televisie zender Eén ‘Pano’ verschillende voormalige Getuigen van Jehovah openlijk over seksueel kindermisbruik binnen de organisatie. De dagen daraop  konden dan meerdere programma’s op Eén en Canvas de aandacht trekken rond dit schandelijk gebeuren van verzwijgen van kinder- en seksueel misbruik.

Volgens Pascal Mertens, mede-oprichter van het meldpunt Reclaimed Voices voor seksueel misbruik bij Getuigen van Jehovah is dit slechts

“Het topje van de ijsberg”

Mertens zegt “dagelijks” zulke verhalen te horen die daar in dat programma naar voor gebracht worden. Hij roept ook de organisatie op om zelf met de feiten naar justitie te stappen.

“Verbreek de stilte”,

klinkt het.

In het programma werd er ook over “blauwe enveloppes” gesproken waarbij niet enkel op het hoofdkantoor van de Belgische Jehovah-getuigen in Kraainem, maar ook in het algemeen hoofdkwartier in de Verenigde Staten de namen en feiten vermeld zouden zijn, die echter niet altijd werden doorgegeven aan justitie.

Het federaal parket voert intussen wel een onderzoek naar misbruik binnen de organisatie, en in de Kamer werd midden maart nog een commissie opgericht.

Wij zelf kennen ook enkele gezinnen waar zulks is voorgevallen en die uit de vereniging geweerd zijn geworden. Erg genoeg zijn de meesten die zulk een slechte ervaring hebben zo gedegouteerd dat zij niet enkel de vereniging maar ook het geloof verlaten.

In Nederland werden voor de Pano uitzending al meer dan 300 meldingen gedaan, met een gemeenschap van 29 000 Jehovah-getuigen. België telt om en bij de 25 000 gedoopten. Na de uitzending bleken meerdere mensen toch bereid zich te melden.

 

Het is verschrikkelijk om te moeten vaststellen dat de organisatie al de moeite doet om zulke feiten toe te dekken. Louis De Witte, hoofdverantwoordelijke voor België, toonde zich ook niet bereid om de zaak verder toe te lichten. Ook al zou men denken dat zulke organisatie die zich beroept op de Naam van God toch alle moeite zou nemen om haar leden volgens de wetten van God te gedragen, blijkt dat zij vreemd genoeg hier de slachtoffers meer kwaad doen en niet beschermen terwijl ze de schuldigen beschermen.

De afgelopen decennia is er veel aandacht van de wereld gegaan naar beschuldigingen van misbruik waarbij men zich vooral  concentreerde op de katholieke kerk, maar ook andere religieuze groeperingen konden nu en dan in de kijker komen. Er werd echter minder aandacht besteed aan het misbruik van de Jehovahs Getuigen, hoewel deze christelijke groep met meer dan 8,5 miljoen leden op verschillende fora en blogs van ex-Jehovahs Getuigen veel werd gesproken, met vermelding van dergelijke en andere problemen in die organisatie.

In de Verenigde Staten Er zijn al miljoenen dollars betaald door de jaren heen om het geheim te houden.

Naar aanleiding van de Pano-reportage over seksueel kindermisbruik binnen de Jehovah-Getuigen-gemeenschap, nodigde de tv-makers ook topdokter Karel Decaestecker uit die opgroeide in de Getuigen van Jehovah gemeenschap, maar er op zijn achttiende uitstapte. Samen met Stefaan Van Hecke, parlementslid voor Groen, besprak hij de Pano-reportage, waarin te zien was hoe het misbruik al jaren structureel wordt toegedekt via een intern rechtssysteem.

Stefaan Van Hecke maakt deel uit van de werkgroep ‘Signalement betreffende de afhandeling van seksueel misbruik van minderjarigen binnen de groepering getuigen van Jehovah’. Zelf zei hij:

“Ik heb schrik dat het bewijsmateriaal zal verdwijnen, dus justitie moet héél snel in actie schieten.”

Men kan zich niet inbeelden wat het moet doen als men te horen krijgt

“Dit moet je echt voor jou houden, we willen geen smaad op Gods naam brengen. Je moet ons vertrouwen. We zullen samen nog een keer bidden tot God en dat komt goed.”

Ook valt het op dat de organisatie dan, om haar naam zuiver te houden, het liever had om het slachtoffer het zwijgen op te leggen en zelfs over te gaan om haar of hem uit te sluiten van de gemeenschap. Daarbij moet men beseffen dat zulk een uitsluiting zeer ernstige gevolgen heeft op sociaal en psychologisch vlak. Het is namelijk zo dat de uitgeslotenen door de gewone leden moeten geweerd worden en dat zulks een verbroken contact echt als een zware leemte aan voelt voor die slachtoffers. Verder is er hen voor jaren geleerd dat enkel Getuigen van Jehovah het koninkrijk binnen kunnen gaan. Door hun uitsluiting zou dat dan betekenen dat zij ook het recht op het Koninkrijk zouden verliezen.

Makkelijk is het om te laten uitschijnen dat zij geholpen worden. Maar als iemand binnen de beweging van de Getuigen slachtoffer is geworden van misbruik moet deze volgens de regels in eerste instantie naar zijn ouders gaan of direct naar een ouderling. Die is dan wel verplicht om een interne melding te maken maar hoeft geen aangifte bij de politie te doen. Aangifte bij de politie vinden de Getuigen een exclusieve zaak voor het slachtoffer of de ouders.

In Nederland kon uit onderzoek van dagblad Trouw in 2017 al blijken dat de manier waarop Jehovah’s Getuigen omgaan met misbruikzaken, traumatisch is voor slachtoffers.

Opvallend is dat zij twee maal slachtoffer worden en dan nog eens als vervloekten uitgestoten worden.

Probleem van velen die opgegroeid zijn in de groepering van JG is dat zij zich zo min mogelijk horen te mengen met de buitenwereld, waarbij ze regelmatig van sociale activiteiten worden weg gehouden.

Na weinig contact te hebben gehad met de buitenwereld, behalve om van deur tot deur te gaan om anderen ervan te overtuigen dat hun religie het enige ware pad naar verlossing was in deze laatste dagen van de menselijke geschiedenis, voelen ze zich verraden en afgesloten door hun eigen “familie”. Voor de vromen voelt zulke uitsluiting als letterlijk een doodvonnis, omdat volgens wat ze hebben geleerd hebben, een JG iemand moet zijn die “tot de Waarheid behoort” om het Koninkrijk van God binnen te kunnen gaan.

Jehovahs Getuigen noemen hun versie van excommunicatie uitsluiting, een straf door te mijden, om de gelovigen te bevrijden van slechte omgang met hen die de wetten van God overtreden. Hoewel deze keer niet de dader wordt uitgesloten, maar het slachtoffer waardoor zij of hij als verdreven persoon geen enkel contact meer met Getuigen kan hebben, zelfs beleefde erkenning op straat, totdat zij de beschuldigingen worden teruggenomen en dat zij dan hebben bewezen ‘hun berouw en bereidwilligheid’ om gehoorzaam op te stellen en terug te keren naar de organisatie.

Het is zeer goed dat nu eindelijk enkele mensen uit de biecht durfden klappen.

Een ex-ouderling gaf in de documentaire toe dat zij best de zaak konden toedekken met de  mantel der liefde. Zo werd er gezegd

“We hadden instructies dat je bij seksueel misbruik allereerst contact opneemt met het hoofdkantoor hier in België, en zij zouden je dan instrueren hoe je verder zulke ‘netelige kwesties’ in het belang van de reinheid van onze gemeenschap verder zou moeten behandelen.
En dan is een van de eerste dingen die ze je vragen, of dat meisje of wij er al mee naar buiten gekomen zijn. Er wordt dus bij wijze van spreken letterlijk verteld om geen stappen te ondernemen zoals naar de politie gaan om dat aan te geven.”

Telkenmale ging het bij het treffen met de ouderlingen om het ene woord tegen het andere.

Via internationale klokkenluiders werden ook honderden pagina’s geheime interne rechtsdocumenten en brieven verzameld waarin stap voor stap uitgelegd staat hoe zaken als seksueel kindermisbruik binnenskamers afgehandeld kunnen worden.

Vaak moeten slachtoffer en dader samen verschijnen voor het intern rechtscomité. Als de dader ontkent, moeten er twee getuigenissen zijn, dan pas wordt de dader veroordeeld en uitgesloten van de organisatie. Bij seksueel misbruik is dit bijna nooit het geval. Daardoor heeft het misbruik in veel gevallen geen gevolgen voor de daders.

vertelt ons een ouderling.

“Er zijn nooit twee getuigenissen”,

verklaart een ex-ouderling,

“en hoe droevig dat ook is, dan kun je eigenlijk alleen maar tegen dat meisje zeggen als slachtoffer: het is het woord van je dader tegen jouw woord. Laat de zaak maar in de handen van Jehovah.”

Zo laat de ex-ouderling ook uitschijnen dat in de gemeenschap van de Getuigen heel wat kan wat op andere plaatsen degelijk zou afgestraft worden.

“De getuigen van Jehovah zijn zowat het paradijs voor kindermisbruikers”,

vult ex-ouderling Patrick aan.

“Wij denken dat het tijd wordt dat dit vuile potje wordt geopend.”

Hiertoe is het dan ook nodig dat Getuigen zich niet meer zullen schamen en uit de biecht willen spreken om die boosdoeners aan de schandpaal te brengen. Louis De Wit mag dan wel als woordvoerder van de Jehovahs Getuigen in België de beschuldigingen ontkennen, meerdere stemmen hebben zich ondertussen ook al laten horen.

De organisatie laat weten:

“Veel belang te hechten aan het welzijn van kinderen en te allen tijde door te verwijzen naar de rechterlijke autoriteiten.”

Verder laat Louis De Wit nog weten dat er binnen hun religieuze gemeenschap geen plaats is

“voor degenen die dergelijke praktijken beoefenen”.

Laat ons dan ook hopen dat er degelijk werk van gemaakt wordt om de Naam van Jehovah, en de naam van die organisatie die Gods Naam in haar naam wil dragen, dan ook spoedig gezuiverd mag worden van alle blaam door de rotte vissen er uit te gooien en de slachtoffers op te nemen en te verzorgen zoals het een christen hoort.

Indien je misbruikt bent is er Reclaimed Voicesdat je de mogelijkheid wil bieden om je verhaal te delen. Zij willen naar je luisteren, je zien en je erkennen in de pijn die je is aangedaan. Zij zullen ook vertrouwelijk omgaan met wat je met hen wil delen. Misschien wil je je hele verhaal doen, of misschien wil je alleen maar kort melden dat je ook slachtoffer bent. Belangrijk is dat centraal staat wat jij wil.

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Nood aan een gesprek? Dan kan u terecht bij Tele-Onthaal op het nummer 106.

Meldingen kunnen ook gedaan worden bij  Stichting Reclaimed Voices

Contact opnemen kan doorReclaimed Voices (seksueel kindermisbruik Jehovah’s Getuige) rechtstreeks te mailen:

Voor Nederland: jouwverhaal@reclaimedvoices.org
Voor België: jouwverhaalbelgie@reclaimedvoices.org

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Vindt ook

  1. “Jehova’s zijn het paradijs voor kindermisbruikers”: herbekijk hier de “Pano”-reportage
  2. Kindermisbruik binnen de Jehova-gemeenschap: Stefaan Van Hecke hoopt dat justitie snel ingrijpt
  3. Reclaimed Voices: Abuse Survivors Speak Out
  4. Jehovah’s Getuigen zien ‘hetze’ in beschuldiging seksueel misbruik
  5. Hoe Jehova’s getuigen kindermisbruik toedekken: “Paradijs voor pedofielen”

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In het Engels / English articles

  1. Abuse been kept silent by Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation
  2. Belgian Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse scandal

Abuse been kept silent by Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation

The Watchtower’s child abuse protocols read like a mashup of Scripture and corporate policy.
From a 1989 Watchtower letter to all U.S. elders describing the importance of secrecy:

“Often the peace, unity, and spiritual well-being of the congregation are at stake.
Improper use of the tongue by an elder can result in serious legal problems for the individual
the congregation, and even the Society.”

Every year in the United States, 60,000 children (aged 11 and younger) are sexually abused.
Every year, 321,500 (aged 12 and older) are sexually assaulted or raped.
80% of all those sexually abused under the age of 18 are abused by a parent or stepparent. (RAINN, 2019).

Normally believing people following Jesus should try to have an immaculate life, taking care of and protecting those around them.

From Jehovah’s Witnesses one would expect that they would show respect for men, women and children and would take care that those who do something atrocious against the Law of God would be punished and would be put out of the community. Often we hear about people have been disfellowshipped for matters which could be talked about and which are not so terrible as for the matters we came to hear about the last few weeks.

At the end of March a documentary was shown on the Flemish state television about reports of sexual abuse by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the edition of “Pano” on VRT Eén the documentary brought to light that the organisation had been covering up sexual abuse of minors via an internal ‘disciplinary’ system for years. That way, none of the claims were reported to the police. One of the witnesses, who has been an elder in the organisation, was very straightforward in the documentary, in calling it

“a paradise for paedophiles”.

The (protected and therefore made anonymous) elder made it clear the organisation had in March 1997 already sent a letter to each of its 10,883 U.S. congregations, and to many more congregations worldwide indicating for the dangers if some news about paedophile acts would come into the public. The organization was concerned about the legal risk posed by possible child molesters within its ranks. The letter laid out instructions on how to deal with a known predator:

Write a detailed report answering 12 questions — Was this a onetime occurrence, or did the accused have a history of child molestation? How is the accused viewed within the community? Does anyone else know about the abuse? — and mail it to Watchtower’s headquarters in a special blue envelope. Keep a copy of the report in your congregation’s confidential file, the instructions continued, and do not share it with anyone.

The man in charge for Belgium, Louis De Wit was not really willing to give a reasonable reply for what was going on behind the doors of this religious organisation.  He gave the impression he did not know about such “blue envelope”.

One would think Jehovah’s Witnesses disapprove of sexual abuse, and would do everything to react properly against such unwanted actions. When there were sent “blue envelopes” like many from different countries tell, are sent to the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, they must have a large database of undocumented child molesters:

at least two decades’ worth of names and addresses —likely numbering in the tens of thousands — and detailed acts of alleged abuse, most of which have never been shared with law enforcement, all scanned and searchable in a Microsoft SharePoint file.

we known from more than one source.

In recent decades, much of the world’s attention to allegations of abuse has focused on the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Less notice has been paid to the abuse among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, though this Christian group with more than 8.5 million members was much spoken off at several fora and blogs of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, stating such and other problems in that organisation.

In the United States already millions of dollars have been paid over the years to keep it secret.

Because the church, and its community, is for many of those victims their life, it is even more difficult to cope with, because they also feel that they can give a negative impression over their religious group. Often they live in a certain way isolated of the outside world. They go to school but friendship with non-JW is not exactly recommended or encouraged. In several countries and several JW families kids aren’t allowed to play sports in school or participate in holiday observances in school.

When the abused persons tell others about what happened they are asked to keep it quiet or are treated as the trespasser and soon after talks with elders they become considered as a “reproofed” member of the congregation, being effectively shunned,  not permitted to speak unless spoken to. Often they even become forbidden from participating in church activities and as such having been made invisible in the eyes of the church.

Having had little contact with the outside world, staying with their own, save for going door-to-door to convince others that their religion was the one and true path to salvation in these, the final days of human history, they feel like betrayed and shut down by their own “family”. For the devout, disfellowshipping feels literally like a death sentence, because according to what they have learned one has to be a JW or to “belong to the Truth” to be able to enter the Kingdom of God.

Jehovah’s Witnesses call their version of excommunication disfellowshipping, a punishment by shunning to rid the faithful of bad associations with those who break the laws of God. Though this time not the abuser is disfellowshipped but the victim which makes she or he as expelled person cannot have any further contact with Witnesses, even polite acknowledgement on the street, until they take back the accusations or allegations and have proved ‘their repentance and willingness to return obediently’ to the organization.

Midway through the last century, the Watchtower took the power to judge and punish Witnesses away from the entire membership of congregations and gave it to the elders in each kingdom hall. The Watchtower also began to emphasize the importance of keeping the organization “spiritually clean.” By the early 1990s, roughly 40,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped each year, according to Watchtower literature.

For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses literature has described the importance of cutting off unrepentant sinners, even when they are family members. A 1988 Watchtower article traces the roots of the organization’s shunning policies to Deuteronomy, which says Israelite parents must bring rebellious children before the elders to be judged and executed

“to clear away what is bad from the midst of Israel.”

Israelite parents even participated in the execution of their own children to show their loyalty to God before family, the article states, because such demonstrations of devotion can be necessary to save one’s own life.

From the way the organisation reactions we can have the impression those youngsters who say they are misused are rebellious children who themselves created such situations where the adult fell in their trap.
What is also so ‘funny” is that those people by others are called “man of God” and should receive full respect and as such nothing bad can or could be said about them.

The same as what seems to happen in many other countries (like the Netherlands) the organisation does not have any policies to prevent sexual abuse or report it to the police and even worse want to keep it silent, sometimes even giving the victims the idea that they are the cause or warning them that they may not let outsiders know about this.

Victims that quit the organisation are not only ignored completely but become disfellowshipped and considered outcast nobody of the JW (lower) members may have contact. Only elders are supposedly to have contact with them, but do not seem to do anything to help them really.

According to CIAOSN, an independent centre set up by Belgium’s Department of Justice to study sectarian organisations, there are similar findings in 12 other countries. The report concludes that the issues in all other countries are the same. Due to the strict hierarchy of the organisation, it’s very difficult to come forward, reports CIAOSN. Another issue that returns frequently in CIAOSN’s report is that victims have to give their statements about the abuse in the presence of their abusers. If the accused denies involvement, they’ll only further the investigation after two other witness statements. In all these 13 countries, there is not one woman involved in the internal disciplinary system.

Reclaimed Voices Belgium finds that it is noteworthy how many people that talk about the severe psychological damage that the exclusion by the community brings with it. They say

“In conversations we’ve had with victims so far, it seems that the trauma caused by the exclusion that follows when a victim speaks up about the abuse has an even bigger impact than the abuse itself.”

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Find also to read:

Papers documenting instances of child abuse by the JW

Over the past couple of years, Mark O’Donnell has been leaking stolen letters and other papers documenting instances of child abuse. (Lexey Swall)

  1. A Secret Database of Child Abuse; A former Jehovah’s Witness is using stolen documents to expose allegations that the religion has kept hidden for decades.
  2. Belgian Jehovah’s Witnesses sexual abuse scandal
  3. Sexual or indecent assault in the Belgian Criminal Code
  4. Let’s talk about it
  5. Amendment to hide child sex abuse claims
  6. Jehovah’s Witnesses use 1st Amendment to hide child sex abuse claims
  7. Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child sex abuse and oust a victim
  8. ‘Punished’ for being sexually abused in York County: Jehovah’s Witnesses’ culture of cover-up
  9. Jehovah’s Witness leader says child sex abuse claims are ‘lies’
  10. She spoke about Jehovah’s Witness abuse, and her home was vandalized
  11. Surviving
  12. A Moment of Silence
  13. Child abuse
  14. Dear Dairy
  15. No Comment: Fordham’s Continued History of Silence on Sex Abuse Claims
  16. George Pell: A Devil in the Disguise of a Saint – One of the worst immoral things/crimes I can think of is child abuse, physical or sexual.
  17. What Do the Church’s Victims Deserve?

Matthew 20 Are you willing to work for Jesus?

In the previous articles we could see how people are invited to become labourers for the Lord.

We are told in the parable given in Matthew 20 that the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a house, who went out early in the morning to get workers into his vine-garden, and proposed rewards to them. We also looked at how this human landlord went out about the third hour, and saw others in the market-place doing nothing; and also called them to come to work for him, which they did. The same happened later in the day (about the sixth and the ninth hour and about the eleventh hour) .

When those who had come first to work, they had the idea that they would get more but looked surprised they, like the rest, were also given a denarius or penny. (Mt 20:10) For us, who live in the capitalist world it might sound very unjust that the ones who laboured longer got only the same reward as the ones who started later and laboured lesser hours. But we have not to look at it with our capitalist eyes. We should look at it from the point of view that as soon as people answer the call of God and come to follow His sent one, willing to work for Jesus, that it becomes important for them working together with those who were there already longer. Together they should go for the right goal and as a team should try to run the race together, making sure that everybody reaches the finish.

 

If one chooses for Jesus, one must dare to draw clear lines. It is not true to follow him but halfway or to adhere to a different Jesus than the one from the Bible. We must clearly choose the Jesus from the Holy Scriptures, whom God called His son. When choosing for Jesus one also does not have to be afraid to tell others that one is following that Biblical figure instead of the person certain churches made of him.

If you are willing to answer God’s call when things matter most it is important to keep to the Biblical teachings and not to fall for the many false human teachings or so called dogmas. Having been bought by a price we should honour that price. We should show full commitment to the one who offered himself for our sins. Jesus paid the ransom and asks us to follow him. As followers of Jesus we should keep to his teachings and keep to the task he has given, which means that we should go out into the world teaching and preaching like Jesus did.

As workers for Jesus and his heavenly Father we should not be afraid of the world and should show the world who we want to follow and for Whom we want to work. Many opportunities are there for workers for the Lord. Are you willing to step in or to stand up?

What if you were prompted to go out and share the gospel on the streets? Would you do it?
How about if you knew that God was preparing a person in need for you to meet and talk with, would you go and meet that person?
What if you felt that God was calling you to help a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbour in need. Would you do it?
What if you were told to stop your car and help a homeless man in need. Would you do it?

Do you want to belong to those who are recognised as the “doer“, willing to help others as if you are helping Christ?

“34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Mt 25:34-40 NIV)

“7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your poor brother. 8 Rather be open-handed and freely lend him whatever he needs. 9 Be careful not to harbour this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for cancelling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will towards your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your brothers and towards the poor and needy in your land.” (De 15:7-11 NIV)

“13  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:13-16 NIV)

As a worker for God you can not stand in the shadow, you have to come out in the light.A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid and therefore you should show the world the city of Christ Jesus and be light of the world.

What if God needed you even when your life and your families lives could be at stake?
Would you still be God’s witness?

You could very well attempt to get out of the situation by denying Jesus or lie about your belief system. We hear that a lot, people not wanting to be clear by their name, just saying

“I am a Christian”

avoiding to tell that they are real followers of Jesus Christ and as such saying for example

“I am a follower of Jesus”

or saying

“I am a Jeshuaist”

making it very clear that you are a follower of the Nazarene Jewish master teacher Jeshua, Jesus Christ, who worshipped not himself but the Only One true God, the God of Abraham Who is One and not three.

Or would you dare to say?

“I am a witness for Jehovah”.

Saying so you would bring up a point of discussion or of clarification.

Avoiding to be clear of your standpoint willing to follow the real Jesus, the son of God, and not a three-godhead, makes you not wanting to be open and bringing yourself on a destructive path also. However, to go through the situation at hand in all faithfulness to God, is what He asks. What we do in persecution shows a lot about our true character and our belief in Christ, even when lives are at stake. So the question is, are you willing to die for Christ?

Now read what Jesus said about persecution and how these people are blessed for His sake below…

“10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mt 5:10-12 NIV)

Shall you be willing to work for it, that you shall be one of the heirs or partakers of that Kingdom?

May every person that says that they are a believer, also obey Jesus and his heavenly Father and do like Jesus did, doing the Will of God and not holding fast on doing only their own will.

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Preceding

We are redeemed; we are “bought with a price”

Matthew 20:1-7 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Vineyard Workers

Matthew 20:8-16 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Last, First; First, Last

Matthew 20:17-19 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Onward to Jerusalem!

Matthew 20:20-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Selfish Request Rejected

Matthew 20:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Authority Not the Way – Serve Others

Matthew 20:29-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Blind Men Pitied and Healed

Matthew 20 It is never too late

 

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Additional reading

Atonement and the race been bought

Matthew 20 It is never too late

In the twentieth chapter of Matthew we can once more come to hear about the position of Jesus and our position concerning the Kingdom of God.

Jesus compares that Kingdom or the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. he wants us to to understand the secrets about that kingdom of heaven and how it shall be for those able to enter into the Kingdom of God.

Each person has a different path in life. For some it may take a long time before they come to God or before they come to realise who Christ is and what he really has done. We must understand that it may happen that a person comes later in the Biblical Truth than us, but shall receive the same promised salvation as us.

In our lifetime we also came to a point where we had to decide which way we wanted to follow. We too like every individual had to make the right choice. By choosing to follow Jeshua or Christ Jesus we had to know we had to become workers for him. When coming under Christ we have to follow up his teachings but also have to fulfil the tasks he has given his disciples to do. They and all those who say to be followers of Christ have to become labourers in ‘God’s garden’. Having become a Jesus follower (or a Jeshuaist if you want) we can all share in the fruit of our labours together, with all the saints who participate, we should not wait before taking action. As soon as you have chosen to follow Christ you should get at work for him.

Many people think that just because they have been a Christian longer than another, they are entitled to have a higher ranking place or to receive more rewards in heaven than a ‘newly born Christian’. People also should be aware that just because somebody may have believed in Jesus longer, it does not mean that they were actively seeking him or doing his will or where really giving their life to him. God is the Only One Who can see in the heart of a person. But He is also a righteous Father Who wants all to come to Him and all having the same rights in His Kingdom. He is not going to favour one above an other because that one has become first to Him or has been longer a follower of Christ.

To each person, God simply asks that we work in His vineyard. These are those that are part of the kingdom of heaven and are saved. All others that stand idly by, doing nothing, have nothing to show for themselves and therefore, have no rewards in heaven.This is one of the parables Jesus tells us to make sure we shall come to recognise we have to do works and should not sit on our ass to do nothing or should not worry any more about good and wrong, with the idea that we are saved and as such can do wrong without loosing the grace of salvation.

We should know that Jesus is the householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. He might find in this world many who own things, while God continually calls unto them, but are so taken by the materialistic goods of this world they have not much interest in the heavenly goods. At the other hand Jesus also may find people who own less in this world, but who are with their heart by his heavenly Father . At a certain time in their life they may respond and by doing so shall be blessed by God.

We should know that everyone that loves and serves God is equal in the amount of blessings they receive. Therefore, it is better to work together in this world, going in union for God’s kingdom. For pride may bring you to a point where you no longer serve the Lord and shall come to see that his reward shall not be for you.

To those that are new to the faith, we should be pleased that they at last found the way and should welcome them in with our whole heart. They may not be treated differently. We also may never forget that many are called but few are chosen, this means that not everyone excepts the invitation to work in God’s garden or kingdom. The harvest is ripe but there are only few labours that listen to God’s calling and enter it, in order to do God’s will.

+

Preceding

Matthew 20:1-7 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Vineyard Workers

Matthew 20:8-16 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Last, First; First, Last

Matthew 20:17-19 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Onward to Jerusalem!

Matthew 20:20-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Selfish Request Rejected

Matthew 20:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Authority Not the Way – Serve Others

Matthew 20:29-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Blind Men Pitied and Healed

Matthew 20:29-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Blind Men Pitied and Healed

Matthew 20:29-34 – Two Blind Men Pitied and Healed

|| Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43

MT20:29 And as they traveled on their way from Jericho[1] a large crowd followed them. MT20:30 And, look! two blind men[2] were sitting beside the road and having heard that Jesus was passing by they cried out, saying, “Sir, have mercy on us, Son of David!” MT20:31 When the crowd rebuked the blind men to keep quiet they cried out even more, yelling, “Sir, have mercy on us, Son of David!” MT20:32 Now stopping before them, Jesus raised his voice to them and said, “What do you wish me to do?” MT20:33 The blind men said to Jesus, “Sir, open our eyes that we might see!” MT20:34 Moved with great compassion,[3] Jesus touched their eyeballs and instantly they could see again and they followed[4] after him.

*

[1] On their way from Jericho: Mark 10:46 has this, “And they came into Jer’i·cho.” This would be a simple typo or editing problem easy to correct unless there was a truth behind the two different versions. Jericho was a dual city so one may exit one part and enter the next without a contradiction.

[2] Two blind men: Mark 10:46 reports only one, “Bartimae’us (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar.” The fact that Mark provides the name may indicate a later association in early Christianity. Mark focuses on the one known individual and for his own reasons ignoring the other. Luke 18:35 only says, “a certain blind man.”

[3] Great compassion: Or, RSV: pity; NEB: deeply moved.

[4] They followed: This may mean they went along with the crowd, or that they became his followers. The fact Mark names one of them may indicate he became a disciple.

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Preceding

Matthew 20:1-7 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Kingdom and Vineyard Workers

Matthew 20:8-16 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Last, First; First, Last

Matthew 20:17-19 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Onward to Jerusalem!

Matthew 20:20-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: A Selfish Request Rejected

Matthew 20:24-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Authority Not the Way – Serve Others

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