|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)|
About the Author
Montis is a public speaker and has taught Bible classes, served as a Sunday school teacher, youth minister and has inspired and mentored both teenagers and adults. The Lord has also used him to bring many former Jehovahs Witnesses to a new life with Christ and he is also teaching many others how to find their spiritual Path. Montis currently resides in Michigan with his wife and four children.
Read an Excerpt
"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
I was the oldest of three children. My mother was divorced and raising us with little to no help from my father. Interestingly enough, I can't seem to ever remember him living with us or even the two of them being married. Maybe I was too young to grasp what was going on around me at the time, but my early memories of my father are of him living with his mother, my beloved grandmother Catherine. He lived with her until the day he died.
Before my parents divorced, my sister La'Dawn was born two years after me. One month after I was born, Clarence was born to my aunt Dorothea, my mother's sister. When Clarence was about two or three years old, Dorothea was brutally murdered, and my mother at the age of twenty-three adopted and raised him as her own child and my brother. I never knew any different until we were older and able to understand the dynamics of our family.
My mother worked very hard and always made sure we lived well and that we had every luxury she could afford, despite being a young single parent. We lived in a nice, well-furnished home on the west side of Detroit and our home was always full of toys and nice clothes. There were times I know my mother felt guilty because we didn't have a father in our lives, so she sometimes gave us double everything. She didn't want us to feel as though we were lacking anything by not having a father around. One of my mother's younger brothers wasn't getting along with my grandfather, so he came to live with us and we were all very comfortable together.
Early on, my brother Clarence was getting into mischief and causing my mother lots of grief. He was fighting with kids in the neighborhood, sneaking out of the house, and dragging me along with him. I remember one day we sneaked out of the house and he beat up a little girl. Being a very passive child I didn't want to participate but felt pressured to by my brother. I was very ashamed and felt frightened by the possible repercussions. The little girl's father knew where we lived and came to our house and told my mother what we did. When my mother found out, my brother lied and said we had never left the house. When my mother asked me for the truth, like George Washington I could not tell a lie. When I told my mother the truth, my brother was very angry with me and we were both severely punished. On some level I felt relieved that the truth came and I didn't mind being punished for what we did because I knew we deserved it.
My brother and I were in the same kindergarten class, and he got into so much trouble that he was expelled from kindergarten. My mother was always at our school dealing with issues concerning him, and after a while, she and the principal became friends, began dating, and they eventually got married. From their union, my youngest brother William was conceived. Now, our family was much bigger, including my mother, Clarence, La'Dawn, me and my uncle, my mother's new husband, his son and three daughters, and now my new little brother William. Sometimes I felt like a cast member of the TV show The Brady Bunch, or better yet, the seventies comedy-drama Eight is Enough.
In the beginning, everything seemed fine with our new family. We moved into a much larger home in an upscale Detroit neighborhood. My uncle got married and he and his new wife moved in with us as well. My step-siblings were very creative and talented, so we had a lot of fun learning and growing together, and my stepfather treated me and my siblings like his own children.
By age six, my love for music began to develop, and I started playing the drums. I have to thank my mother for being so patient and allowing me to loudly beat my drums in the house. I don't remember her telling me to stop, not even once. Having a six-year-old making all that noise couldn't have been easy for her, but my mother allowed it and my skills began to grow. My stepbrother could play the piano — his mother was a classically trained pianist — and two of my stepsisters were really great vocalists, so we spent lots of time playing and singing music together. We sang songs by Captain and Tennille, The Sylvers, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, and much more. Those were fun times as we bonded and learned to become a family.
"When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.'"
While all of this was going on, we were regularly attending meetings and bible studies at the Kingdom Hall, the worship place of the Jehovah's Witnesses. I was born into a family whose dominant religion on my mother's side was Jehovah's Witnesses. My grandmother and her sisters were introduced to Jehovah's Witnesses as young girls and would pass it down to their children and grandchildren.
I have many fond memories of going to the Kingdom Hall as a child, reading and studying their various books and publications. Both of my mother's sisters were baptized JW's and I attended both of their weddings at the Kingdom Hall. I still have the pictures in a family photo album. I loved going to the Kingdom Hall, and my mother made sure me and my siblings received home Bible studies from the men at our local Kingdom Hall.
During these studies we would read through a Watch Tower Society publication (the corporate and legal name of the Jehovah's Witnesses) and answer the questions that were listed on the bottom of the page. More and more, our lives revolved around the Kingdom Hall and fellowship with other JW's. I was learning and growing very fast in my understanding of the Bible as taught by the JW's, and my love for God was constantly increasing. I was so eager to learn that I would call my grandmother and aunts with loads of bible questions. Soon, my love for JW's would manifest in other areas of my life and it would affect how I viewed and interacted with others.
When I was about seven or eight, I organized a group of neighborhood kids to form our own little club and my mother and stepfather helped me build a clubhouse in our backyard for me and my friends. We were imaginative children who loved riding our bikes, playing all kind of games like hide and seek, capture the flag, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, baseball, tag, and whatever else we could think of. We were very adventurous and weren't afraid to try crazy things like climbing trees and jumping from one to the other like Tarzan. As you can imagine, things didn't always turn out so well. Sometimes we went off on long bike rides seeking adventures beyond the boundaries set by our parents.
One day, I got a brand new Evel Knievel bicycle and thought I could do some of the dangerous stunts I'd seen him do on television. We started by jumping curbs, doing wheelies, jumping small handmade ramps, and Clarence had become really good at what we called "cat walking" on his bike. In this move, the rider lifts the front wheel off the ground and balances on the back tire while still pedaling and moving down the street. I remember my brother competing with other kids in the neighborhood and being able to cat walk an entire block and a half.
One day, in our attempts to be more like Evel Knievel, we decided to build two really high ramps, one for taking off and one for landing. We spaced them out and put logs in between them to jump over. Once the ramps and logs were in place, it looked so intimidating that everyone chickened out, but there was no way I would chicken out. How could I? I had an actual Evel Knievel dirt bike and Mr. Knievel would be so ashamed if I didn't try. Although I was afraid, I couldn't let them know; after all, I was the leader of this little band of rascals and they looked up to me. So I tested the ramp by slowly riding up and down the launching side and focusing on the jump. Then I rode my bike back to the start point, took a deep breath, and off I went. I tried to build up as much speed as I could before reaching the ramp, my heart beating faster and faster. As I approached the ramp, I felt it collapse beneath me, and somehow it propelled me even higher as I pulled up too hard on the handlebars. I went so high in the air that I lost control of my bike and crashed back down to the concrete.
I don't remember much except seeing stars and being in a lot of pain, and seeing Clarence run to get our stepbrother for help.
Fortunately, I wasn't badly hurt, but the funny thing is that we couldn't find my bike. We looked for it, but it was gone. Finally, someone happened to look up, and there it was, stuck in the high branches of a tree near the jump site. We couldn't believe it had gone that high. I never tried a crazy jump like that again, and I decided to leave stunts like that to the professionals like Evel Knievel.
"He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
As my club grew in popularity, more neighborhood kids wanted to join us. I came up with a list of membership requirements which included being part of a Bible study I was conducting. I remember my mother telling me the children's parents may not approve, and although she never told me to stop, she tried to discourage me. We were studying a small pink book published by the Watch Tower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses called Listening to the Great Teacher. Although I was a child and had no idea how flawed the JW doctrine was, my heart was pure and my love for God was genuine. I wanted to share the goodness and the word of God with anyone who would listen.
On my father's side of the family, he and his two younger brothers all lived with their mother, my grandmother, and were extremely dysfunctional. My grandmother spoiled them to a point that even as adults — with the exception of my uncle Stan — they would never leave home, have real jobs, families, or even learn what it meant to be responsible adults. Their lives were spent chasing women, drinking, smoking marijuana, having parties, gambling, hustling, playing the lottery as though it was a job, and having no connection to anything godly. Yet, they were very caring, loving people who would literally give you the shirt off their backs. My grandmother was a kind, giving, patient woman, and very nurturing to everyone she came in contact with. Her door was always open for everyone in need.
There was always someone new coming to live in her home and they were always treated like family. It seemed as if every other month I had a new uncle, aunt, or cousin. There were times in my teenage years when I wasn't getting along with my mother, and I went to live with my grandmother. It was always chaotic. I went to bed anytime I wanted, ate McDonald's for dinner almost every day, and had very little supervision. Fortunately, I was a disciplined child and even during those times I would ask one of my uncles to get up and take me to the Kingdom Hall so I could continue with my spiritual growth. Although they were a dysfunctional family, I learned from my grandmother the values of sharing and giving to others. To this day, I miss her dearly — one of the people I loved most in this world.
As I was growing stronger as a JW, I started to become very judgmental and looked down on anyone who I felt wasn't living up to the standards of Jehovah God. I was always proselytizing my non-JW family members and condemned the lifestyle and behavior of my uncles. There were times when I went so far as to throw out their alcohol and marijuana, making them very angry with me, but in my mind I was doing it for their own good.
Meanwhile, my stepfather began to show a darker side of his personality. There were times when he beat my stepsister so badly that my mother had to intervene. Once, he stabbed my stepbrother in the head for being disrespectful. I remember him calling me a fag and a sissy because I was a shy boy who had reservations about playing sports.
One day, when my mother was at work, I got into an argument with a neighborhood boy and my stepfather held me upside down by my leg and beat me. While I was still crying from the beating, he made me sit outside on the front porch so all the neighborhood kids could walk by and laugh at me. After some time had passed, I was still sitting outside crying when my mother got home from work.
"What happened?" she asked.
When I told her the whole story, she confronted my stepfather and learned he'd also beaten my brother. My mother forbade him from ever touching us again and this led to resentment and a very hostile environment. When my mother wasn't around, he would call us names and mistreat us, and because we knew he couldn't touch us we would antagonize him, only making matters worse.
As my home life became increasingly stressful, I began to withdraw by practicing drums and strengthening my walk as one of JW's. This became my place of peace, and in these things, I found strength.
By the time I turned eight, my mother and stepfather separated and we moved into a new home. My uncle and his wife moved into their own home and one of my mother's other brothers moved in with us.
It was around this time a male friend from my mother's past started coming around. He was older than my grandfather and I would later learn that he was president of the Detroit Federation of Musicians. He used to own night clubs, and managed recording artists like Kim Weston — who sang with Motown — and jazz singer Bettye LaVette who still sings to this day. He, too, was a musician who played trombone while in the army and also for several jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie. My mother referred to him as her friend Jim. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot about music, and put me into music summer camps and exposed me to some really great musicians.
During this time, my mother was becoming inactive as one of JW's. This is a term given to JW's who are not actively attending meetings and going door to door proselytizing. While in this inactive state, my mother became more liberal with the JW's teachings and allowed us to celebrate once forbidden holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. During some of these holidays, I refused to participate because of my loyalty to the WTS and what I believed was obedience to biblical teachings. I must admit it was difficult watching my siblings open Christmas gifts, so I stayed in my room, isolating myself from everyone. The next day, I would open my own gifts, because technically it was no longer Christmas and this somehow made me feel as though I wasn't really breaking the rules.
I missed going to the Kingdom Hall so much that I would call other JW families I knew and ride to the Kingdom Hall with them. I loved God with all my heart and I wanted to serve Him as well as share my love of God with others in hopes of converting them to the Watch Tower Society.
At some point, my aunt Carolyn, who'd been a faithful JW was having marital problems and her JW husband became physically abusive. She was scared and stressed to the point of turning to cigarettes for relief, a habit she developed as a teen but had since turned away from as an adult and one of JW's. She went to the elders at her Kingdom Hall for help concerning the spousal abuse, but her husband's father was an elder, so they turned a blind eye to the abuse and dis-fellowshipped her for smoking cigarettes.
This meant she would now be shunned and treated like a leper by all JWs, including her own family who no longer welcomed her at family events. My mother's other sister and her husband were considered the most spiritually strong JWs in our family and they treated my dis-fellowshipped aunt worse than anyone else. They had recently moved to Kentucky, and many of my family members acted as though they were afraid of my aunt and uncle, and treated them like they were the Holiest of Holy. I admired their dedication to the WTS and wanted to be like them, so I also began condemning and treat my dis-fellowshipped aunt cruelly. This was the beginning of a rift in my mother's side of the family that would eventually tear them all apart.
Later in my life, I grew to deeply regret how I had treated my aunt Carolyn. We eventually grew very close, and she became one of the most loving and supportive relatives I have. She is now a born again woman of God, and I am also very proud of the courage she displayed with her recent battle with breast cancer. She has a gentle spirit and I love my aunt Carolyn dearly.
"I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."
Growing up, I spent most of my summers in Kentucky with my aunt and uncle who I looked up to as "super" Jehovah's Witnesses. I enjoyed spending time with them and learning all I could about Jehovah and His will. But my uncle was a very strict and rigid man, and sometimes he was mean and hard to be around. However, he was very knowledgeable concerning the Jehovah Witness doctrine, a great vocalist, and these things intrigued me because at this point I was not only playing drums but also learning to sing as well. So I was willing to endure his eccentric personality to learn all I could from him.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Finding The Path To God"
Copyright © 2016 T. Montisé Peterson.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Three Wise Men, x,
Chapter 1 Childhood, 1,
College Years, 20,
Chapter 2 Road to Damascus, 22,
Chapter 3 Tapped On The Shoulder, 34,
You don't belong here!, 36,
Ask, Seek, Knock, 39,
Chapter 4 Spreading the Good News, 46,
Trial of Apostasy, 50,
My Disassociation Letter, 52,
Chapter 5 Straying from the Path, 61,
Off the Path, 68,
Chapter 6 Dark Path, 70,
The Discipline of God, 70,
Samson and Delilah, 75,
Chapter 7 The Path Out, 84,
The Power to Choose, 85,
Chapter 8 Ordered Path, 88,
Jonah and the Big Fish, 94,
My Prayer of Reconciliation, 96,
My Revelation, 98,
Understanding the Revelation, 101,
Chapter 9 Religion vs Relationship, 106,
Chapter 10 Learning to Walk Your Path, 116,
The Five Excuses of Moses, 119,
Power of the Holy Spirit, 122,
Led By Holy Spirit, 125,
Learning to Be Still, 127,
Chapter 11 My Path, 133,