“Jehovah, You Found Me!”
As told by Nelly Lenz
“Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?” I asked the two men who had come to our home. “Yes,” they replied. I exclaimed, “Me too!” I was only 13 years old and did not go to meetings at the Kingdom Hall. My parents were not Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why, then, did I identify myself as one?
WERE it not for Jehovah’s Witnesses, I might never have been born. My mother became pregnant with me while she was living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She was only 17 years old. Her family exerted great pressure on her to have an abortion. She consented.
Mom asked for a day off from work to have the abortion. Her boss, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, evidently found out why my mother wanted to leave work. She briefly told Mom how precious the gift of life is. (Psalm 139:13-16) On the way to the clinic, Mom pondered what her employer had said. She decided not to have the abortion. After my birth in 1964, my mother placed me in an orphanage.
My First Contact With Bible Truth
When I was about two years old, my mother and her new husband took me out of the orphanage. While living in Sainte-Marguerite-du-Lac-Masson, they began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and attended congregation meetings. However, we soon moved to Boisbriand, and my parents stopped studying.
A few years later, they resumed their study. I listened in to hear what was said about the Bible’s hope of a paradise earth. (Luke 23:43) I came to love Jehovah very much.
One day, though, Mom told me that they had stopped studying with the Witnesses and that we would no longer go to the Kingdom Hall. At first, I was delighted. As a child of eight, I sometimes found the meetings to be rather long. That evening, though, I wanted to speak to Jehovah in prayer, and I worried that he might not listen to me.
The following Sunday afternoon, I saw our neighbors who were Jehovah’s Witnesses leaving for their meeting at the Kingdom Hall. I started to cry and asked God, “Why can their children go to the meetings and I can’t?” Nevertheless, the words of Psalm 33:18 would prove true: “Look! The eye of Jehovah is toward those fearing him, to those waiting for his loving-kindness.”
Returning to the Kingdom Hall
After three weeks, I visited our neighbors and told the mother, Lilianne, that I wanted to attend the meetings. Lilianne explained that this was impossible, since my mother did not want anything to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, I insisted. So she took me home and asked Mom if I could go with them. To my surprise, Mom agreed. She said that the meetings would teach me good principles. Thus, I went to the meeting every Sunday.
For about three years, I got to attend congregation meetings. But when I turned 11, my parents divorced, and my mother and I moved away. Once again, I lost all contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
An Unexpected Encounter
One day I was sitting on the front steps of our house when two Witnesses—Eddie Besson and Don Fisher—approached and asked if my parents were home. When I said they were not, the men turned to leave. But I ran after them, and we had the conversation related at the outset.
Understandably, the two men were surprised to hear me identify myself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I explained my situation and begged them to return that evening. When I told Mom the Witnesses would be coming by, she became very upset and said that she would not let them into our home. In fact, she planned to leave before they arrived. I tearfully begged Mom to stay. Just as she was getting ready to leave, the doorbell rang, and there was Eddie Besson. Imagine my joy when Mom accepted a Bible study!
Finally, I could attend congregation meetings again! Less than a year later, however, my mother again stopped studying. This time, she forbade me to have any contact with the Witnesses and discarded all the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses that she could find. But I managed to hide a Bible, a songbook, two bound volumes of The Watchtower, two Yearbooks of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a book entitled The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.* During my last study, I asked Eddie Besson what I could do, since I loved Jehovah very much. He encouraged me to study on my own and to pray often. He assured me that Jehovah would care for me. I was only about 14 years old.
Conducting My Own “Meetings”
From then on, every Sunday I went to my room and pretended I was at the meeting. I sang the song “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!” at the beginning and the end because it was the only Kingdom song I could remember. To this day, I cannot sing this song without weeping. I also studied a Watchtower article in the bound volumes I had. I concluded my “meeting” with prayer. So even though I was no longer associating with the Witnesses, I felt that Jehovah was near me.
When I turned 17, Mom and I moved to Montreal. Those years were difficult, as our home was anything but a haven of love.
One day Mom accepted the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth from Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I came home, I saw it on the table and started to look at it. When I saw that it used God’s name, Jehovah, I started to cry and silently prayed, “Jehovah, you found me!”
I needed to contact my Christian brothers and sisters. But how? Mom told me that a neighbor might be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. So on my way to work, I went to our neighbor’s home and rang the doorbell. A man—half asleep—answered the door. How surprised he was when I said that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that I wanted to get baptized! He arranged for a Christian sister named Josée Miron to study the Bible with me. But once again, Mom began to oppose my study of the Bible. She told me I would have to wait until I was 18 years old before I could become a Witness.
Family Life at a Price?
My employer noticed that my situation at home was worsening. He often invited me to spend time with him and his wife on weekends. Since I love horses, we would often go riding together. I felt that they were like parents to me.
One day my employer told me that he and his wife loved me very much and that they wanted me to come and live with them. He was offering me something I had always wanted—a loving family. But there was one condition—I was to stop associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They gave me one week to think about their offer, but I didn’t even need one day. I gave them my answer immediately. Jehovah had never abandoned me, and I could not abandon him.
My Service to God
Because of the trouble I was experiencing at home, I moved in with my stepfather. He encouraged me to continue studying, and on December 17, 1983, at 19 years of age, I was baptized. I was so happy to see Eddie Besson on my baptism day. Now there was no question in his mind that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses!
However, my stepfather’s demeanor changed after I was baptized. Whenever he saw me praying, he would speak very loudly and even throw things at me! He also insisted that I further my education in a way that would interfere with my goal to become a pioneer, a full-time evangelizer. Eventually he asked me to leave home. He gave me a check for $100 and told me that when I cashed it, I would know that Jehovah did not care for me.
I became a pioneer on September 1, 1986, and I have that check—uncashed—to this very day! Sometimes it was difficult to pioneer in a rural area without a car. But members of the local congregation were very supportive and helpful.
In time, I met a kind Christian man named Ruben Lenz. We married in 1989. Ruben presently serves as a congregation elder in Milton, Ontario, Canada, where we have lived since 2002. Our marriage has been one of the greatest blessings Jehovah has bestowed upon me. I continued in full-time service until we had our first child, Erika, in 1993. A little over three years later, we had a son named Mika. After my long years of loneliness, Jehovah God richly blessed me with a family that loves him as much as I do.
Although I was periodically separated from Jehovah’s people while growing up, I never ceased resting my hope on God and holding on to the hope of everlasting life in Paradise. (John 3:36) How grateful I am that Jehovah “found” me!
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Picture on page 15]
Riding on my employer’s horse
[Picture on page 15]
Nelly Lenz with her husband, Ruben, and children, Erika and Mika