Home Lifestyle Experiences The 13 Week Experiment

The 13 Week Experiment

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Original text published on my Facebook profile on September 20, 2020 and on Reddit.

Prior to the start of this experiment, I read about similar experiences on jehovahs-witness.net and Reddit for the past seven (7) years. I told myself “that could never happen to me”.

I’m certain that the following experience was not the only one in my congregation and in other places around the world, that clearly demonstrates the 2-faced, blatant hypocrisy of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The 13-week Experiment

The objective of this experiment was to determine the level of love of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs, Witnesses) in my congregation, St. James English Congregation, Trinidad and Tobago.

The 13-week experiment started on February 11th 2019 and ended on April 27, 2019. I had two surgeries in the early part of 2019. I told two members of my congregation , namely Marlon Jeffrey and Nigel Cudjoe that I would be missing (MIA) from congregation activities for a good few weeks; I also told them not to tell anyone. Two other JWs, Anderson John and Aquisha Julien, who were in other local congregations, were aware of the surgeries. I also told selected staff of my former and current workplace, all of whom were non-JWs, “worldly people”.

In total, only four (4) non-family Witnesses knew about the surgeries. This was planned and deliberate.

During the 13 weeks, I received a number of phone calls and WhatsApp messages from the worldly people, the non-JWs, who were severely criticized and demonized by the JWs; who were painted in a very bad and negative way in the Friday morning program of the 2020 Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. About 70% of these “worldly people” contacted me even after the 13 weeks had expired.

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Out of the 13 weeks, Marlon Jeffrey inquired about my well-being about 4 times. The inquiries of Anderson John and Aquisha Julien lasted for about the 1st 3 weeks and gradually faded thereafter. I missed two (2) congregation meetings for each of the 13 weeks and also the Memorial. I have no evidence to produce that any other JW from my congregation checked up on me. Not one of the other congregation elders (Alpha Stoute, Peter Bascombe, Francis Chimming) made any attempt to inquire about my well-being. Only 3 of the 4 JWs who were aware of the surgeries checked up on me.

Putting Things in Perspective

Now many Jehovah’s Witnesses will defensively claim that it’s “human imperfection”, “you don’t have all the facts”, “what’s this fuss and essay is about? One brother checked up on you – why can’t that be enough?” Let me put things in perspective.

Some members in my congregation had my mobile number. During the 13 weeks, I was part of a WhatsApp Group which had about 11 congregation members. My family attended all 26 missed meetings during the 13 weeks. My brother was the Congregation Secretary. Therefore, anyone could have asked for my mobile number.

St. James English Congregation has 105 active members. Assuming that for each 26 missed meetings, one (1) different member asked about me – this amounts to 26 inquiries (26 missed opportunities to ask something) or 25% of the congregation. If for each 26 missed meetings, two (2) different members asked about me – this amounts to 52 inquiries (52 missed opportunities to ask something) or 50% of the congregation. If for each 26 missed meetings, three (3) different members asked about me – this amounts to 78 inquiries (78 missed opportunities to ask something) or 74% of the congregation.

You can spin the math whichever way suits you – do the math for the 5 other days of each week or for 75% of the 26 missed meetings or deduct 3 weeks for “human imperfection”. That is still too many missed opportunities. The figures are embarrassing for a religion that preaches the love of Christ and claims that they also practice it.

This does not change the fact that whatever scenario is looked at, it is one too, too, too many missed opportunities for any Jehovah’s Witnesses to defensively and dismissively claim that’s it “human imperfection” and that “you don’t have all the facts”.

Some JWs would love to downplay and minimize my experience by claiming human imperfection and “Lester just slipped through the cracks”. The fact remains that each week, JWs are reminded in some form or fashion, to show love for “the friends”. There is a public talk entitled “Love Identifies the True Christian Congregation” that has been presented in my congregation for years. Even the July/ August 2019 Convention was themed “Love Never Fails!”. Apparently, these reminders always go through one ear and come out the other ear.

The Memorial During the 13 Weeks

The 2019 Memorial observance was held on April 19, 2019 during the 13-week experiment. This “important annual sacred event” was held during the 12th week of the experiment. This meant that 12 weeks had already passed without anyone checking up on me.

Three (3) weeks before this event, congregation members would engage in a campaign to invite persons via flyers/invitations to this important sacred event. Members who ceased to participate in their religious activities and who had stopped attending their religious gatherings, were contacted by the local elders.

No one reached out to me to inquire whether I would be attending this “important event”. No one called to ask why I missed the Memorial observance.

The End of Experiment

The 13-week experiment ended on April 27, 2019 when I attended a Circuit Assembly.

You would think that the congregation members would somehow use this opportunity to redeem themselves after 13 weeks of pushing me aside and after having been reminded of Christ’s love the week prior at the Memorial “celebration”.

No member of my congregation asked me anything about my well-being at this assembly. They all passed me straight just like a bus. Furthermore, when I attended subsequent congregation meetings, only Marlon Jeffrey inquired as to my well-being. No other elder or congregation member asked me for a reason(s) for missing 26 meetings.

A congregation member just doesn’t go MIA for 13 weeks then to re-appear without questions asked. I could have taken a blood transfusion and no one would have known one single thing.

Post-Experiment

In about June 2019, the Circuit Overseer, Jude Charles, visited the congregation. It was disclosed to the congregation’s elders (during his review of the congregation’s field service activity on the Tuesday before the start of the mid-week meeting), that I had surgery to explain my inactivity during the 13 weeks.

After the Circuit Overseer’s review and before the start of the mid-week meeting on the said Tuesday, Peter Bascombe, the Service Overseer, approached me and said “I didn’t know you had surgery; are you feeling better?” None of the other elders who were present at the Circuit Overseer’s review asked me anything – most likely they felt humiliated and embarrassed. If Jude Charles didn’t visit, nobody would have known one shit.

About two (2) weeks after the visit of Jude Charles, Peter Bascombe wrote me a love bombing letter in an effort at redemption, claiming that “the brothers had love for me”. At each subsequent meeting after he wrote that letter, ONLY Peter Bascombe (in addition to Marlon Jeffrey) would ask how I was going.

By this time in June 2019, some in the congregation may have figured out what happened but still did not ask me any questions. A congregation member just doesn’t go MIA for 13 weeks then to re-appear without questions asked.

But this letter was too late – “time had ran out”, according to Ben in the Friday morning program of the 2020 Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I far as I was concerned, Jehovah’s Witnesses was on borrowed time since April 27, 2019. I had collected sufficient evidence that I did not belong in this mind – controlling cult that ONLY claims to follow the LORD – but what they practice is totally something else. I looked for the next opportunity to leave this religion and never return – I left the following month in July 2019 with no intentions of submitting a “letter of disassociation.”

Experiment Results

This was an opportunity for Jehovah’s Witnesses to demonstrate the Christ-like love touted in their videos. However, they failed to show no amount of practical love when they needed to. They really had no excuse not to do so. There was a number of options that could have been used to contact me.

I have absolutely no evidence that anyone in my congregation attempted to contact me during and after the experiment. I have absolutely no evidence that no one gave me the opportunity to refuse visits. There was really nothing to be gained or reward for simply reaching out to me during those 13 weeks.

It was a harsh lesson that “the friends” were not really my friends and that the worldly people condemned and shamed by the JWs (in their Friday 2020 convention video), were the ones who were friends in its true definition.

This experience will always remind me that once an individual Witness no longer has any value to the JW religion, they will ignore and discard that person like a useless orange peel. I was no longer an asset to the congregation after I was removed as a Ministerial Servant in October 2015. The “real friends”, including Aquisha Julien (mentioned at the outset) dropped me like a ‘ton of bricks” or ”a hot potato” to use a local expression here in Trinidad.

“Friends will carry you [into a cult], but will not bring you back”.

*Feature Image – My Book of Bible Stories (2004)

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Lester Somrah writes about the beliefs and practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses on his social media platforms and was baptized as a member in 1998.

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