‘Thank You for Opening Our Eyes’
IN THE twelfth century, there lived in the beautiful valleys of southern France a religious group called the Waldenses.* These sincere truth seekers believed the Bible to be the Word of God and endeavored to live by its principles. But because they preached to others what they had learned from the Scriptures, they were hounded as heretics. Many of them escaped persecution by fleeing to other countries, and some took up refuge in northern Italy, where a Waldensian community has survived till this day. However, as time passed, many of the Biblical doctrines and practices of the early Waldenses were abandoned.
For some time now a number of Waldenses in northern Italy have been studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Recently a letter from them was received by the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in Italy. They wrote the following:
“All of us know of the persecutions [the early Waldenses] suffered for many centuries. But many do not know that these people today have turned back to pagan customs and no longer adhere to the Bible.
“They can now be recognized only by their symbol (the Huguenot cross) attached to a tiny chain, clearly displayed on the windshields of their automobiles or hung on the bottles of juniper or on other souvenirs.
“We thank you sisters and brothers of Jehovah’s Witnesses for sacrificing hours of your time to open our eyes and to make the truth enter into our hardheaded minds. . . . The time you dedicate to us is of great value, of much more value than money. Your altruistic love (the true love without ostentation) for your neighbor identifies you as those disciples that Jesus describes in John 13:35 and Matthew 24:45. From the research we have done we find that in times past the Waldenses used the name of God, Jehovah. . . . But today this name is categorically rejected by them, though at Acts 15:14 it is mentioned that God would gather from the nations ‘a people for his name.’ We can see that today this people can be identified with Jehovah’s Witnesses, since they are the only ones to bear the Name. (Isaiah 43:10-12) ‘We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.’ (Zechariah 8:23)”
For a more detailed discussion of the early Waldenses, see The Watchtower, August 1, 1981, pages 12-15.