Daniel Morales: Beyond the Watchtower
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
Daniel Morales grew up in Columbia, South America. It was there he became a Jehovah’s Witness.
“Being in an organization such as Jehovah’s Witness really made you feel safe,” Daniel tells The 700 Club. “You felt like you were a part of something.”
He later moved to the United States with his family. Like all Jehovah’s Witnesses, Daniel answered to their governing body – the Watchtower Society. Members were taught that God only accepts those who follow the rules of the Watchtower.
“That’s the only kind of Christianity that I knew – to practice nothing individual – because in fact the Jehovah’s Witnesses discourage individual thinking completely.”
Daniel started having his doubts.
“I saw these evangelical Christians, how on fire they were for God. These people are going around saying they love Jesus, they are doing good works, they have these charities, yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses are telling us this is a false religion. It didn’t quite make sense.”
By the time Daniel graduated from high school, he began to explore Christianity. He got hooked on some books about the end times called the Left Behind series. He started seeing things that didn’t match up with what he learned as a Jehovah’s Witness.
“I didn’t know what to do. The Jehovah’s Witnesses were telling me these things. I’m feeling compelled right there at my kitchen table to pray to Jesus. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say, ‘You have to pray to Jehovah. Jesus is completely separate. He’s just an angel.’”
Meanwhile, he fell into a relationship with a woman that ended in a bad break up. Broken hearted, he went to the leadership for counsel. Instead of giving Daniel words of comfort and wisdom, the community ostracized him.
“’We’re going to reprove you,’ which is a way of saying, ‘We’re going to set you aside.’ You’re going to be marked. You cannot participate in the meetings. You cannot associate freely with all the other brothers and sisters. What kind of help is that? What kind of feeling is that? I felt just completely rejected, like a slap in the face.”
That’s when Daniel joined the Marines, but that also went against the Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs and Daniel struggled with his decision. So he wrote the Watch tower Society, again looking for guidance. They advised him to begin the process of a conscientious objector discharge. Daniel began to see the writing on the wall.
“What am I doing here? Why am I struggling? These people aren’t going to accept me. The Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t accept me. The organization is definitely not going to take me in until I leave the military. But if I leave the military like this, I’ll probably get a dishonorable discharge. I didn’t join like that. They are telling me in order for God to accept me I have to lie to say that I’m a conscientious objector even though I came willingly and I wanted to bear arms.”
Daniel felt trapped, but he was holding out hope that God could accept him. Then a friend in the Marine Corps invited him to church. Daniel said yes.
“I went there. They made the altar call. I just surrendered. I basically went to the altar and said, ‘Lord, I don’t know what to do. I’m lost. I don’t know what to believe in. This doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever I can do, here I am. Help me out. It was one of those moments that I just felt that God heard my cry.”
In time, Daniel saw the truth – that God’s love is not something he could earn by following rules and regulations. It’s a gift.
“These things were starting to move me from that type of organization to a different kind of love. To a God who loves me, who wants to come into a personal relationship with me, who basically wants to meet me where I am. [He] doesn’t require me to leave behind the Marine Corps and the core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
Daniel served honorably in the Marine Corps for eight years. He also married Jackie and is now working on a Master degree online with Regent University. Instead of going to the Watchtower for answers, he turns to Jesus Christ daily for advice and encouragement.
“Now I don’t have anyone telling me this is how you’re suppose to believe, this is how you’re suppose to think. Now I can pray. I can have access to the Holy Spirit. I can open the Bible. I can consult with dear Christian friends who are wiser than me, and then I can make my own decisions.”
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