Another XJW called me this morning to tell me that a reasonably well-known 'old timer' had just died. Which set me thinking about death and the JWs. We were so positive that Armageddon was coming in our life time that when death arrives on the door-step its hard for some to cope.
Not that this man who just died may have been in that situation. This former sister who phoned me with the news, didn't know the guy who just died that well, but we both were saddened by what we both see now as a wasted life, and attempted to put together what we knew of him. Serving Yahweh for some 70 years is quite a long time. Surely there would be some blessings?
The man's name was Farleigh James. We think he became a witness maybe around 1949-50. He'd been a POW in Crete, captured by the German's in their airborne invasion that captured the island in 10 days. Placed in a burial detail by the Germans, he later told brothers, that the soldiers of both sides that he had to bury would have photo's of their wives and kids and so he became a pacifist.
He escaped from the German camp and lived in the hills of Crete for a couple of years suffering much privation, until the British Navy helped most of the escapees off the island. Back in Australia, it seems he suffered extreme PTSD. Both he and his wife became witnesses together, and you'd have to say that this man became a devoted witness.
At some point the entire family served in New Caledonia where there was some kind of unholy row between him and Hans Hubler (who seems to have rubbed lots of Australian witnesses the wrong way).
Later he was on the circuit work in South Australia and New South Wales, and later becoming (so my friend thinks) a writer for the WTS.
So here's a life of devoted service, but at a personal level, there were so many sad things. Focusing on congregation needs when he came back from New Caledonia, his son fell into bad company, was arrested and charged with breaking and entering, and sentenced to detention in a Salvation Army home, where he was raped and introduced to drugs. Some years later his son committed suicide. Both his daughters were also divorced.
In his old age it seems he suffered from dementia, and had to live in a home with some form of restraint.
This does not seem to either the former sister who phoned me today, or myself ,to have been a truly fulfilling life. Particularly so, as it seems that before becoming a JW, he was a good opera singer and had won a scholarship for further voice training. A scholarship that he rejected so that he could serve Jehovah.
All his life after becoming a witness, he believed he would survive Armageddon into the Paradise earth. Now after some 70 years of putting the kingdom first, he has failed (like all other believers) to see the fullfillment of the promises.
Arn't you glad you escaped and now have the opportunity of a really fulfilling life.