I don't think I shared this story yet, it's strange and although I did a little detective work trying to figure out who said what and when I never found out much, big surprise, Jehovah's Witnesses love their secrets as we all know... But I thought other posters might find this interesting both in and of itself, because of what an Elder told me one Sunday back in 2011, and because of what it could imply as to high-ranking Jehovah's Witnesses prophesying the date of Armageddon. Specific dates went out the window in 1975, although Governing Body helper Ken Flodin hinted at 2040 in a talk uploaded to jw.org a couple years back, and the Governing Body hinted at 2034 in a Watchtower back in the 90s. But it might be, just might, that more specific date-setting still goes on behind closed doors in certain circuits...
So after I went to "meetings" and talked to Witnesses for a couple years at a rural congregation in the eastern United States an Elder pulled me aside one service into the vestibule at the hall, in other words, into a private area where no one would overhear us. He did this as I went to leave early after the "public talk" or "Bible discourse" (who knows which, I never saw any difference between the two) so nobody was coming or going into the hall either. The Witnesses there knew I attended college nearby and they kinda begrudgingly respected that or pretended to at least, but this Elder, who I barely knew, told me that I should think about dropping out. I asked why of course, gently, you always gotta be gentle with Witnesses, and he lowered his voice and told me, "This system will probably be over in about 5 years."
I was stunned. He must have noticed that because he immediately clarified, "That's what we're being told by our Circuit Overseer," basically to say I didn't pull this out of a hat, you can trust me on this. Then he said something like he knew I was thinking about where I would work and what career I would pursue but that I "probably won't use it," meaning my degree, because his daughter went to school for teaching I think but now pioneers in Africa... maybe because he told her the same thing and she wanted to make sure she survived Armageddon?
I never heard anything else about this and I didn't want to really ask around too much because if he told me away from everybody else and even lowered his voice he clearly told me something "confidential" he knew someone or some other persons didn't want getting out. I asked a Ministerial Servant I talked to a lot and he made a weird remark, something about if Armageddon got close enough Jehovah might tell Jesus the exact date but when I asked if Jesus would tell Witnesses he insisted he wouldn't, but it still felt funny to me, I dunno, maybe I read into it. The CO visited about a month before that and I heard him say in one of his talks on a Tuesday night, "What if we knew there was only 10 years left for this system, how would we live our life?" but then he joked, "Don't even go there," saying more or less he wasn't being serious but you know... you kinda already went there, man. So I never found out if he just made a remark like that in a meeting with Elders or if he full on just told them, 5 years guys, it's coming in 5 years.
I thought this morning about writing that Elder all these years later and saying, Hey buddy, it's been more than about 5 years, thanks for trying to fuck up my chances at getting a good job, know you didn't mean to but seriously, what the hell? Who else did you tell? Did you ever apologize? You didn't even have the balls to say what you meant, you couched it in two qualifiers, "probably" and "about" but you didn't want me to think probably or about, you wanted me to read between the lines and only hear the 5 years thing. Shame on you.
I just might.