Deborah Antignano: A Witness to the Truth
By Renelle Roberts
The 700 Club
What would cause a girl from a loving, Italian, Catholic family to suddenly pull away during the holidays and not even want to celebrate her own birthday anymore?
"I really didn’t want to be there, and there was a sense of guilt," Deborah Antignao tells The 700 Club. "This is demonic. I should not be even Hearing Christmas songs. I started to challenge my family on their own faith. I was out to prove, 'You are wrong.'”
For Deborah, a casual dating relationship with a Jehovah’s Witness led to a 15-year indoctrination into the religion. This included the belief that celebrating holidays was evil. Deborah began to spend long hours with her boyfriend and his family.
"I became close with his mom, and his mom would challenge me on my own faith. She would point out things to me in the Bible that I just couldn’t answer and that’s what drew me in."
Deborah’s parents weren’t pleased that their daughter left Catholicism, but they thought it was better for her to be studying religion than getting caught up in drugs or alcohol.
Even though the teachings were drawing Deborah further and further away from her family, she held onto her newfound beliefs because the Witnesses always seemed to have an answer for any question she posed.
"I was attracted to their knowledge, love and zeal for what they believed to be the Word of God. That drew me in, how they knew the Word. I was impressed, very impressed and I wanted that. Also, there was a sense of community and love for each other."
She soon started dating another attractive man who was also studying to become a Witness. His name was Sal, and he was a former Catholic too. They eventually got engaged, and Deborah was excited to announce her engagement to her friends. But to her surprise, "there was no congratulations. It was more a sense of displeasure. 'This is not what you should be doing. You should put the organization first. That’s the order of things.'”
Outraged that her friends refused to celebrate her good news, Deborah decided to take a break from the Kingdom Hall to sort out her thoughts.
"I was looking for their approval. I thought at least if the person I’m marrying is studying and on the same level as a new convert prospect, then it would be an acceptance. But it wasn’t. It was more like a rejection."
Deborah and Sal went ahead with their wedding plans. They couldn’t marry at a Kingdom Hall because neither had officially joined the organization, so they found a nondenominational Christian church. For the first few years of marriage, the Antignanos didn’t practice any religion, but when Deborah became pregnant with their daughter, she knew she had a big decision to make.
"Having this life in me, that’s when the awakening came. I knew we had to raise her as something. She couldn’t be nothing. I knew enough that we have to raise her in faith. I didn’t want to raise her without anything."
So Deborah sat down with the Jehovah’s Witness Bible, known as the New World Translation and the Christian Bible. She spent weeks studying the Greek and Hebrew definitions in the Christian Bible and the origins of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It didn’t take long to find some major inconsistencies in the literature she had from the Witnesses.
"The big one was in 1975 when they predicted that was the end. It never came to pass. I was able to see all the inconsistencies, verse-by-verse, doctrine-by-doctrine and the deity of the Lord Jesus. I could see that Jesus is God. 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one gets to the Father except through me.' It’s not an organization. It’s not a religion. It’s not a person. It’s the Lord Jesus!"
Sal could see a change in his wife, and she shared that it was Jesus. He agreed to go with her to visit a church that a friend suggested.
"Being a part of a worship service like that was a little strange for us. We weren’t use to seeing hands lifted and seeing worship take place like that. It was overwhelming."
But they kept going back. Deborah was eight months pregnant when she heard the pastor explain Jesus’ free gift of eternal salvation.
"The altar call was made to give your heart to the Lord. I knew I wanted to. I knew I was home. I knew I was ready to make a commitment to Jesus, not to an organization, not to the church, but to give my heart to Christ."
Both Deborah and Sal committed their lives to Jesus the month before their daughter Danielle was born. That was six years ago.
"Now I am able to raise my hands, because I’m worshiping Him. The freedom is Christ. My spirit just came alive inside of me! God will reveal and guide and lead you into all truth. He’s the Revealer of all truth and that truth does set you free!"
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