Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future

Posted by Joel Gunz

A number of years ago, circuit overseer Keith Kelley gave a talk at the Circuit Assembly in Woodburn, Oregon, on the theme, “Are You a Stepping Stone or Stumbling Stone?” If you were around then, maybe you remember it. His point was that, depending on the choices we make, we can either be a force for good or for evil. It was an excellent talk, and it continues to influence me in my post-Witness life.

I’d like to extend the illustration a bit further.

Imagine that you are stepping from stone to stone as you cross a narrow creek. In some places, jumping to the next rock might seem to require a huge effort, and you may not even be sure that you’ll make it. But as you cross, you look back and realize that it wasn’t so difficult after all.

For those of us who have successfully left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, can’t we say the same thing about our exit? Most of us were plagued by all kinds of fears, anxieties and self-doubts. We knew we were leaving longtime friends and family members. Some of us even faced the reality that we’d take a financial hit as our former brothers cut their business ties to us. We might also have been afraid that our new “worldly” associates would injure us in some way. Our leap out of the Witnesses was probably the most terrifying move we’ve ever made, like stepping into a black void. But then, looking back, we quickly realized that our fears existed purely between our ears, a product The Organization’s indoctrination.

Upon leaving we discovered that many non-Witnesses are capable of a quality of love and loyalty that is all too rare among even the most “exemplary” Witnesses. To the extent that we reached out in the non-Witness world, making new friends came easily. The proverb that “there exists a friend that is sticking closer than a brother” acquired new meaning for us.

Our activities in The Organization might once have loomed large in our lives. But looking back, doesn’t it all seem so small? The friendships shallow? The “privileges” no more substantial than a chocolate gold coin?

Because we’ve taken that leap, we can look to the future with a confidence that is predicated on our own well-earned character strength — not the fiery destruction of 99.99 percent of mankind. We are free to jump ahead to our next stepping stone.

If you are contemplating such a leap, you don’t have to do it alone. There are numerous ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses in Portland, Oregon and surrounding areas who would consider it an honor to help you. You can join our local Meetup group, or contact me at