Paul Blizard and his wife, Patricia, were third-generation Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although they did all they could to maintain the requirements of their faith, they had doubts. When Paul’s father discovered that Paul had been reading an unapproved Bible version and was questioning the group’s beliefs, he turned them in to the church elders. The elders put the Blizards on trial and extracted their promise not to stray again.
“Once you become a Jehovah’s Witness, they become your whole world,” Paul noted. “All of your relationships, friendships, family and activities are tied up in the organization. It is extremely difficult to walk away.”
One evening, Patricia was cutting their 5-week-old daughter Jenny’s fingernails when she accidentally cut the baby’s finger. Jenny’s finger started bleeding and would not stop. Paul and Patricia took her to the doctor. Soon, she was rushed to a hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.
The doctor’s words hit them forcefully. “If your daughter does not have a blood transfusion, she will die,” he said. Jenny’s bleeding wouldn’t stop because she had a terminal liver disease.
The couple was torn. The Jehovah’s Witnesses had misinterpreted biblical texts that dealt with blood from animal sacrifices. They concluded that no Witness could receive a blood transfusion. The Blizards told the doctor they would let Jenny die. The doctor would not accept this. The hospital got a court order to proceed with the transfusion, and Paul and Patricia were charged with child abuse and neglect.
Witness elders urged Paul to take Jenny out of the hospital before she had the transfusion. Paul refused. He argued that he had been obedient to the Witness doctrine, that the legal system was calling the shots. The elder responded, “I hope your daughter gets hepatitis from the blood.”
“Throughout this trial,” Paul said, “I kept thinking, ‘The Jehovah Witnesses would have let my daughter die.’”
A Christian neighbor brought them chicken for dinner when she heard about the sick child. A prayer group from her church started bringing meals on a regular basis, and the church started praying for them.
The display of love overwhelmed Paul. He began reading the Bible in a quest to understand this love. He met with the neighbor’s pastor, who patiently discussed with him what the Bible said. Then, a clerk at a Christian bookstore shared the plan of salvation with the Blizards. Afterward, the couple prayed together to become followers of the Savior. Their decision brought them peace, even when Jenny died a few years later.
I asked Paul how to reach Jehovah’s Witnesses.
He answered, “The woman who brought the pan of chicken did more to change my attitude toward Christians than any preacher I had ever met.” Also, the bookstore clerk’s boldness in sharing the Gospel came at the right time. Finally, Paul said, his examination of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ documents led him to search for the truth. “If you can get a Jehovah’s Witness to look honestly at the prophecies of their leaders over the history of the movement, they will have to admit that something is wrong.”
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of “The Unexpected Journey.”