King David


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Just As I Am

Each day of our lives should be a living testimony to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  If it had been possible for me to have spoken on the day I was born, I would have said something like this- "I'm not supposed to be here!"  My mother was told it was impossible for her to have any more children.  So I must be a miracle baby!  God willed me into being and He has a purpose for my life.  That would have been my testimony on that first day.

God had already begun to work out His plan for my life when he caused me to be born into a fairly Godly home.  My parents took me to church with them and I remember singing or at least trying to sign hymns.  My Father taught me to pray and I recall seeing him kneeling in prayer beside his bed on several occasions.

Unhappily he died when I was only ten years old.  He was seventy-two.  His last words to me were a request for me to pray for him, that he might live to go on caring for mother and I.  As I was the youngest of a large family of brothers and sisters I was the last to leave school and start to earn a living.

I soon became a member of the Church of England, and was confirmed and became a Sunday school teacher when I was twenty-one years of age.

Painting scenery for the church pantomimes.  I used to dream of becoming a missionary but had no idea how I could become one.  Then I met Dick who was a fine young man, who went to church with me.  One day Billy Graham, the well known evangelist of the time, came to England.  We went along together to the local town hall where his message was broadcast to a large audience.  When Billy Grahams' voice called out loud and clear, "WHO IS ON THE LORDS SIDE!" I got up and went to the front I WAS THE FIRST TO GET THERE! Soon Dick stood at my side.  The choir were singing the hymn JUST AS I AM WITHOUT ONE PLEA.  We were so excited we felt elated for days but it faded without any obvious spiritual growth taking place.  Soon Dick and I were married at the church we both attended when I was twenty-four.

Then we moved to another area and I began to teach in another church Sunday school.  Disappointed to find that I was unable to have a baby I just lived for family and church.  Then during a bout of sickness two lady Jehovah's Witnesses called on me.  Hannah and her mother seemed sincere and very nice ladies.  Hannah called again and again.  Then she began to give me a Bible study.  Like me, Hannah was unable to have children so that gave us a kind of bond.

The Jehovah's Witnesses taught that we would soon be living on a paradise on earth and then we would be able to have our longed for families.  I became hooked on the teaching and in eighteen months time became baptised at an assembly in London.

As for Dick, he had tried to study with a German Jehovah's witness minister called Hans, but he could not accept the teachings.  I was to carry on with the life of witnessing from house to house attending assemblies and congregational meetings for the next twenty-five years.

What started, as a kind of exciting missionary experience soon became a burden, a treadmill of working and recording each house call and every conversation I had about Jehovah and the Kingdom.  Never the less I never doubted this was God's organisation.

Then in 1984 I became lame due to a tumour growing under my right buttock.  This needed to be removed.  It took six months to find a surgeon who was willing to take the risk and operate without the availability of blood transfusions.  Jehovah's Witnesses are known throughout the world for refusing blood transfusions.  At last a Mr Gray whose kindness and thoughtfulness impresses me greatly agreed to do the operation.  All went well and not so much as a cup of blood was lost.  I had gone into hospital on my birthday, which was in November.  However after the operation was over I had a bad lung infection and seemed to go down hill.  I became anaemic and my wound was weeping.    All was far from well and the doctors decided to send me home to heal with a district nurse to attend me and administer iron injections.  It was now two days before Christmas and I was so glad to be home.  The following day the nurse came to dress my weeping wound and to give me an iron injection.  I walked with the aid of crutches.  Then the blow fell just as the nurse was leaving in her car; I had a massive haemorrhage.  Dick called her back just in time to help me.  Her quick action saved my life.  Having put an emergency bandage on my wound to stop the bleeding, she telephoned the emergency services for an ambulance.

Soon I was on my way to hospital.  To face the biggest decision of my life.  My prayer was, "Please Jehovah don't let me bleed to death".  At the hospital they were doing all that they could to save me but I desperately needed blood.   It was Christmas Eve and a nurse was at my bedside and a doctor telling me that I needed blood to survive iron would only add to my problems, because of the side effects from massive does.  I felt totally confused and dismayed as I waited for my husband, who came and simply said 'Please Audrey!  I don't have your faith.'  My mind was made up love had won the day and I accepted the transfusions.  As I lay in bed my husband at my side the nurses came round with a choir singing carols.  It was so lovely and we just looked at each other and smiled.  Strange how one can deny something for so many years and then in a crises find that very thing to be a comfort.  I hoped I would get better now that I had accepted the blood.  However it was to be a weeklong battle for my life.  On Christmas morning I found a tub of talc and a Christmas card from the League of Hospital Friends. There had been no Christmas presents for twenty-five years because it was decreed a pagan festival by the Watch Tower.  So that seeing this simple gift and card made me cry.

It was then that the hospital chaplain passed my room.  I prayed, 'please let him come to me and tell me I will be forgiven.'  It was an unlikely prayer for me to pray because we were taught that Church ministers were not true Christians.  I was desperate and open to a sympathetic word.  To my surprise he did come to me, tentatively approaching my bedside.  I recalled seeing him in the hospital from time to time.  I said, 'I am a Jehovah's Witness you know'.  He nodded, 'I tried so hard to obey the scripture in the book of Acts about not having blood.  But when I saw my poor husbands face I could no longer refuse.'  I explained tearfully.  The chaplain's eyes seemed blue with sympathy and understanding.  Gazing at me intently he said the following unforgettable words.  'You know Audrey I don't believe that scripture applies to modern surgery.  However even if it does I know God will forgive you because what you did you did for love.'

We chatted a little longer and he told me he was a blood donor and looked upon giving his blood as a gift of a little bit of himself.  'Can you not just view it as a gift from a friend,' he asked smiling.  Then he said gently, 'I hope you have as good a day as possible', and gently kissing my tear stained cheek he left quietly.  I thought, I wouldn't mind if it were his blood because I'm sure he is a good man.  I felt comforted by his words and held on to them, turning them over in my mind.  My husband had been through so much distress and was at my side constantly.  He was so pleased to hear about the Chaplains visit.

The Elders soon heard about my accepting transfusions.  They viewed me as having broken my integrity.  A few days after Christmas day two Elders came to see me they tried to help in their won way but it fell far short of the love and understanding that I so badly needed because it was a case of viewing it as a sin which was equivalent to an act of fornication.  They promised to help me when I was better but never said I could be forgiven.  I was afraid they would disfellowship me and I would lose all my friends.  They asked me not to tell anyone about my having blood, to make things easier for them.  They didn't want the congregation asking questions and getting upset about it I guess.  However I was not out of danger even now and faced crises after crises.

On New Years eve I had a massive haemorrhage and had to be taken into intensive care to have my veins stitched in order to stop the bleeding.  I was frightened and near to death because my blood count was 3 when it should have been 14.  Now I knew that it was touch and go.  Reasoning to myself that I was so ill because Jehovah was angry with me I wanted to tell them, to stop, it isn't working your way.  Only all I could do was throw myself on the God I knew as Jehovah and beg for mercy.  'Jehovah have mercy on me' I cried out loud.  The surgeon looked up and asked what I was saying.  I told him I was asking God to have mercy on me.  He simply said, 'Oh I see.'  I had been given an injection of morphine to kill the pain but my mind was clear.  I heard God answer me in my head, 'I will permit it, you are a chosen vessel for me.'  It seemed unbelievable to me yet I could not forget those words.  It was following this surgery that I began to recover.  It was a long fight back to full health but I was going to make it.

What of my future though, I had to make up my mind how I wished to spend it.  With the companions I had known for twenty-five years or out in the world with I didn't know what or who.  At that time I only knew that I was alive and with my husband Dick.

The Elders read me scriptures about King David's confession of his sin with Bethsheba, which was meant to encourage me to repent for having transfusions.

Once home again pressure was being put on me to repent and go back to the meetings at the Kingdom hall.  I knew that I would have to go before three elders and they would decide if I should be disfellowshiped or not.  One day following pressure to repent I asked to go before the judicial committee.  I wanted to get it over with and then relax.  However it dragged on in the form of further meetings with one elder and then to follow, a Bible study with a sister.  At about this point I decided to visit the Chaplain at the hospital and he advised me to wait about six months before making a decision.

The Elders hadn't disfellowshiped me but I had restrictions upon me in the congregation.  The strain was telling now.  After being told to go to a sisters home to start studying again I had a panic attack.  Shaking all over I decided enough was enough!  I had to put a stop to all this pressure and the only way to do it was to leave.  So that night I sent letters to all my close friends as well as the Elders to say I was sorry but I just could not go on any longer in the organisation.  It was hard to do but now I had some one to turn to, the chaplain.  My husband was glad to see me leave because he as so scared that we might have to go through something like this again if I remained.  A few weeks later I received Holy Communion for the first time in twenty-five years, in the hospital chapel.  It was like going home again.

I decided to start going to church and one Sunday evening in May I went with a friend.  The first hymn was special because it took me back to that night when I gave my life to Jesus in my youth.  My eyes filled with tears as we sang, 'Just as I am without one plea just as thy blood was shed for me oh Lamb of God I come!'

We had broken the ice and now we started to attend this Anglican Church regularly.  I made new friends and the void left by the absent J.W. friends began to be filled.  It was hard to take being snubbed by former friends once viewed as brothers and sisters.  However I was about to lose my best friend, my husband Dick.  He had become very sick and was suffering from cancer.  Sadly he died on 29 October 1985 within the year of my traumatic illness and crises of faith.  However it was a comfort to experience seeing him turn to the Lord and receive the Holy Communion with me at the hospital with the same chaplain that helped me so much.  To be with him when he was anointed with oil and know that he was close to God.  I chose a hymn with the words 'I came to Jesus as I was weary and worn and sad, I came to Jesus as I was and He had made me glad.'  It was so apt for him.

The following January I became a voluntary chaplains assistant at the hospital where my life was saved.  Talking to patients and praying for them.

My Own emotional wounds began to heal and the Lord was blessing me with new friends.  Then I received the call to do hospital radio work.  Every Sunday I would go and spend fifteen minutes sharing a Christian message and playing modern hymns.  It was a joy to me.  Then I would go and wheel patients down in wheel chairs to the chapel for Holy Communion.

About three months after my husband's death I read about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues.  I asked the Lord for this blessing which he gave me in the outpouring of songs in an unknown tongue.  Life would never be the same again!

The Lord has used my experiences in the Jehovah's Witnesses to help others.  Some of my former J.W. friends have now also become born again Christians and have been reunited with me.  I have tried to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and have continued to seek Gods will for my life.

One day I met my husband to be William, at a Christian fellowship meeting.  About six months later we married at the Anglican Church close to our home.  Continued teaching in the Sunday school and sharing many other interests.  We have many Christian friends and contacts over seas in other countries.  Our lives are rich with the wonders of Gods grace and love towards us.

I now view my former brethren the Jehovah's Witnesses as people who while looking for God have been mislead and have lost their way.  Being drawn into an exclusive legalistic organisation.

If you fell that the Lord wants you to minister to them.  Then make sure that you choose the subject and give them your own testimony.  Show them the face of love in Jesus.  They need a safe place to go and find the true Jesus.  It is not easy to help them but love can overcome obstacles.  Your testimony could be the lifeline they are searching for.

The Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.  In time the word which you sow into their lives can bear fruit.  Only stand fast yourself in the faith of the Lord Jesus.

Wishing you every blessing as you seek to do the good and perfect will of God.

Peace be with you.

In His service

- Audrey Hogan