Young, Brother B: As noted in story number two, many shepherding visits, maybe the majority, are one-on-one sessions where an Elder talks privately with an individual, often someone in the Elder’s Book Study Group, and just as often with JWs that an Elder simply decides for personal reasons he wants to try and help.
The case of Brother B was one of these latter situations. I met he and his family when I first became a JW in the late 1960s. Brother B was about 8 years old at the time. His sister was about 11. His parents were in their 30s, and my wife and I were in our early twenties. We became friends for two reasons, one is that his family were not really part of what one might call the inner click, and the other is that his dad’s military background is something familiar to family. When we would go over for dinner, my wife would help with the meals, and Brother B and his dad and I would pay games, like monopoly, or cars. So, in time young Brother B looked up to me like a big brother.
Fast forward to 1980: Older Brother B was ‘stumbled’ over the failure of 1975, and was DF’d. My family and I had moved away to another state a few years earlier. And so, young Brother B was at the Kingdom Hall with his Mom, while his dad stayed home working on electronics projects in the garage, and whatever else ex-JWs do with their free time.
Jumping forward again to 1984: We had moved back in the congregation, but our association with the B family had been limited because the dad was DF’d ... not because we didn’t want to be around them, but the guilt and shame that Sister B and her children felt, caused them to remain obscure or at least less inclined to socialize, such as turning down dinner invitations.
Then, one day, I get a call from Sister B because her son, now a young man, was talking about joining the U.S. Air Force, as his dad had done prior to being a JW. She was worried because with all the talk about Peace and Security, she was afraid that he would get too deeply sucked into the world, and be lost at Armageddon. So, I agreed to visit with her son.
The Shepherding Call on young Brother B: I called young Brother B and set up a time to spend the whole day together. He really seemed to like the idea, and he understood that I was going to talk about his future from a JW perspective. We met on a Saturday morning about 9:00 AM, and went to breakfast. Then we drove to a park and sat and talked, and then walked and talked, then went to lunch, then drove out into the country, then back to the park to sit and then walk and talk more.
While our discussion was always mild, even-handed, and open ... he just did not feel that he could continue with the JW religion ... at least not at this point in his life. When I asked the big question about what he would do if he was caught up in warfare when Armageddon broke out, he simply stated that he ‘had to do what he had to do.’ There was no moving him from his position, no way to ‘light a fire in his heart’ for the JW cause, nor any amount of JW reasoning or logic that would persuade him to change his course. I dropped him off at the end of the day, and we parted on good terms.
US Air Force Uniform at the Kingdom Hall: One Sunday, just as the meeting ended, I got a nudge from Sister B pointing out her son standing at the literature counter in the back of the Hall. She thought that I might want to say hello to him before he went off for his first assignment.
What would I do? My first impulse was to talk with him. He obviously showed up to the meeting in full dress uniform for a reason. He was proud of what he was doing, and I think in some way he may have been making a public statement about his choices in life as it relates to refuting the JWs ... but I don’t know for sure. On second impulse, I turned away, and chose to shun him.
It didn’t stop there, because I made sure “””twice””” to walk by him and make sure he understood that he was being shunned by me. I was not required to shun him. He was not baptized. But, I guess I felt that I had to exhibit my JW self-righteousness. I had to openly display my loyalty to the organization to a greater extreme to retaliate against his exhibition of his loyalties to the United States via its Military Service.
Eventually, he left the Kingdom hall after visiting with some JWs who decided to talk to him. He never returned. I never saw him again ... that was about 18 years ago.
What happened to he and his dad?; He served his four years in the US Air Force. He did not go to war. He earned an honorable discharge and a GI Bill for college. He married a non-JW girl in another church, and moved on with his life. During that time, his dad for some odd reason became un-stumbled over 1975, and was reinstated after more than 10 years of being DF’d. His dad and I renewed our friendship, and his dad became a Regular Pioneer.
No, that I have been an ex-JW for almost exactly 10 years, I wonder: It is odd how things go around full circle a time or two. But young Brother B is living somewhere, likely enjoying a normal life. He is one of many I hope to find one day and apologize to, both for the stupid advice I was giving him during a Shepherding visit, as well as shunning him needlessly. I don’t know what effect it had on him, and he has likely forgotten about it ... but I can’t get his face out of my mind when I recall the look he had as I passed by him like a Pharisee, refusing to speak to him.
I really was not a Shepherd or even a good big Brother to him: A shepherd, a big brother would have never shunned or pushed a point of view. Rather, while I thought at the time I was doing the right thing ... I was really just another Watchtower robot parroting party-line to keep a young man conforming ... a young man who kindly and mildly refused to be subjected to idiocy. Thank God.