…Go Where I Send Thee
by Ryan Faughnder


Jehovah’s Witness minister Weldon Howze loves to tell stories about the students he meets at UCSB. He begins with a narrative about a boy he met who shored up his belief after he experienced some “rough spots in his faith.” After a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the boy resolved to alter the aspects of his life that caused his depression. “[The boy] had been listening to some music that was not good,” Howze says.

The boy, Howze continues, took one of his CDs out of his car, put in on the ground, and prepared to destroy it. “And just when he started to do that, something pushed him with a tremendous force,” Howze says, “and he fell on the ground.” Later, the boy destroyed his CD collection with fire and lighter fluid, convinced that the cause of the “force” was a demon. This, Howze believes, is an example of the direct way in which God changes people’s lives.

All day, Howze stands in front of the UCen in a sweater vest and glasses “each lens the size of a squashed Pepsi can” and talks to students about their concerns. He does not preach. He does not try to convert people, nor does he draw crowds. Rather, he waits for curious students to approach him with questions about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“I thoroughly enjoy the attitude of the students,” Howze says as his eyebrows move together like two hands on an accordion. “When people are in universities, they are there to study. They want answers.” He wants to provide those answers.

“We are very educationally minded, in that we teach the Bible,” he assures me. “We really are teachers. That’s what each one of us is, is a teacher. But we don’t necessarily recommend that our young people go to universities, because often we find that students have to fight for their faith.” However, Howze adds that the pursuit of higher education is
ultimately a matter of personal choice. “Obviously, we cannot tell our young people what to do. And we don’t.”

Howze has a down-to-earth and comical way of explaining the nuances of his religion, such as his unbelief in the “rapture.” He explains this to me as he sits at his kitchen table with a bowl of almonds in front of him. “The churches teach that Jesus is going to descend and pick up all these people,” he says as he reaches across the table for the bowl of almonds and lifts it away into the air, “like so.” These mannerisms entertain even the atheists who approach Howze.

Howze began studying the Bible during his childhood because both of his parents, who ran a farm in Ojai, were devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. He became baptized at the age of eleven and became a minister the moment his official membership began. He started going door to door with his parents to talk with people about the Bible and to give out copies of Witness literature. “I knew then that this was what I wanted to do with my life,” he says.

He began his full time ministry as soon as he graduated high school, and at age 22, he ventured to Brooklyn, New York to work at the headquarters for the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society, the governing body for Jehovah’s Witnesses.

After he worked at the headquarters for 17 years, Howze came to Santa Barbara, where he opened a private cleaning business as a way to separate himself from the “business-related sins” that were so prevalent in New York. “There’s always this pull,” he says, “and you definitely have to avert your eyes and your mind from the things around you.”

Howze’s own brother was part of a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses in McFarland, California, that was attacked by a mob that wanted the Witnesses out of the city. Although the situation terrified every worshipper present, Howze’s brother and the other Jehovah’s Witnesses survived the attack. As for his own experience, Howze says, “I have never encountered a mob scene where people have wanted to stone me.”

Perhaps it is this quiet sense of humor and his gift for conversation that elicits such positive responses from many of the students at UCSB. He states that the general response he receives is “excellent, excellent!” In fact, there are individual students who give him their email addresses so that he can message them with uplifting paragraphs. According to one of his friends, Howze has made thousands of contacts with people as far away as New Zealand. “You should see his Rolodex,” says the friend, “I’d say it rivals that of most businesses.”

He even runs into students at locations off-campus. One afternoon, Howze says, he dined at a restaurant with a friend, when one of the young waiters approached him and said with a huge smile, “You’re Weldon, right? I talked to you at UCSB.” “He was just extremely pleasant,” says Howze.

“We find in our discussions that, often, when people say to you ‘I don’t believe anymore,’ or ‘I’m an atheist’ they’re really saying to you ‘I don’t want to be responsible to anyone,'” Howze tells me, leaning over the table, “And so, we understand that. I have found, in my years working here, the best thing you can do is listen.” By listening to the students, Howze gathers some fascinating stories, and it is his pleasantness and sense of humor that attracts even the most ardent skeptics.


  1. I am a former Jehovah’s Witness and I have talked to student groups in high school about cults and cult mind control that one may find when they go off to college. Jehovah’s Witnesses are just one example of a mind control cult. Mind control cults have deceptive recruiting practices. This means that they never tell the truth about what they really believe to the average person. They are full of fears and phobias, and they are very afraid of demons, believing there is a demon around every corner waiting to cause them problems. Hence, the “story” which really is only this man’s “urban legend” concerning the CD’s having demonic force.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that even “The Smurfs” are demonic.

    When one joins this Watchtower organization, you are subject to the whims of their leaders from the cradle to the grave. The Watchtower claims to have high moral standards, but what kind “high moral standard” tells their members to shun their families and their friends who disagree with their doctrines? Shunning is probably one of their cruelest practices. I know personally, because I have been shunned for many years by my own family, and it sure does hurt. It has, unfortunatly caused many Jehovah’s Witnesses to commit suicide. It is a very cruel and cold religious organization.

    Cynthia Hampton

  2. Linda Davenport

    It is too bad that such a pleasant fellow is spreading false doctrines of a cult that twists Bible Scriptures, destroys families with their evil shunning of anyone who decides to leave the religion over doctrinal differences, protects child molestors and shuns the molested children’s families if they speak out about the abuse. What a shame. May God forgive him.

  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs and who are they?

    The Watchtower is big money, being one of the top 40 New York City Corporations making nearly one billion dollars a year. That’s just from one of their many corporations.

    Unlike in the case of Christians who are persecuted in other lands for talking about Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses are largely persecuted for following the teachings begun during the second presidency of the Watchtower, when Joseph F. Rutherford took over in a corporate flap and began changing doctrines quickly in the Watchtower belief system. He claimed that angels directly conveyed truth to some of those in leadership. He coined the name Jehovah’s Witnesses to make them stand out from being witnesses of Jesus, a typical evangelical expression (and a Biblical one).

    Rutherford dumped holidays, birthdays and the 1874 date for the invisible return on Christ, and invented an earthly class of Witnesses, since only 144,000 can go to heaven in their teaching. The rest, meaning all 99.9% of Witnesses still alive, will live forever on a cleansed earth, under the rule of the Watchtower leaders in heaven, who will keep them in line by local elders known as ‘Princes’.

    If you have been witnessed to by Jehovah’s Witnesses and you reject their message, you will likely die shortly at Armageddon with all the other non-Witnesses, since theirs is the only true religion, and (if they can live up to all the rules) they are the only ones to inhabit this new earth. If you believe Witnesses seem rigid now, any non-conformist during the future cleansed earth will be directly destroyed by Jehovah. Even now a Witness will be disfellowshipped for any one of many gaffs, such as smoking, taking a blood transfusion, or even voting.

    To even vocally question the teachings of the Watchtower will result in complete cutting off, with family and friends usually being forbidden to talk to them. The Watchtower is a truly Orwellian world, in a time when Orwellian societies are nearly obsolete.

    By their own Yearbook accounts,Witnesses are shrinking in number in many Western countries as of the last few years, as the internet facilitates the spread of information (much of it critical of the Witnesses). Witnesses are cautioned against creating JW-related websites, largely to prevent their members from discovering the history and dirty laundry of this organization on other websites. (There are literally hundreds of former members pages in many languages.)

    The Watchtower strives hard to control the flow of information to the individual Witness, and prefers that all instruction come through the magazines they carry door-to-door. Without this form of control, even as they themselves admit, they would believe just the same as other Bible believers.

    My hope is that there will be a day in each of their lives when the Watchtower magazine is no longer needed, and they can go to college, vote for office, and contribute money and time to other, more vital causes in their community. More than likely they will then cease to be persecuted, except in a few societies more authoritarian than their own.


    Danny Haszard

  4. Ironic how rules ‘supposedly’ change. When I decided to go to university i was constantly and aggressively counseled by the elders to not go. For months they aggressively tried to force my mom to change my mind or i’d be disfellowshipped.

    Needless to say i went to university. Making the choice got me shunned, disfellowshipped and no friends. Fortunately, my mother ignored them but she had to do so carefully as she could be disfellowshipped for talking to me (as an ex-jw).

    Once you are a JW, you cannot leave without major losses. Fortunately, after many years, I came to a realization that they border on the definition of ‘cult.’

    There are many good people in the JW religion. Too bad they can’t think for themselves.

  5. I feel sorry for those of you who thought this article was about promoting the Jehovah’s Witness faith. It’s about a man, trying to bring out the good things in people the best way he knows how. We may not agree with doings of his doctrine on the whole, but we become a cult ourselves when start basing our opinions of people on a label and not on the life they lead. I have no reason to disbelieve with what has been said by those who previously commented here, but I just cation being caught up in all the talk about a certain religion. The only way you can justify disliking Howze is if you talk to him and strongly disagree with the advice he gives and the way he approaches life. Remember, always try to first look for the best in others.

  6. I am not a JW nor have I ever been. My sister was decieved by this group with the help of her abusive husband. No matter how sincere these people seem we have to understand how cult groups work. The are decieved and then decieve others unknowingly. For not reason other than becoming a JW, my sisterdoensn’t have much of a relationship with us now. We have always been a close family. JW’s do distroy family relationships in order to control their members and the real reason they do not encourage higher education is becaue they are afraid people will learn to think for themselves……

  7. Oh my god… are you guys serious? You guys are letting your bigotry towards a religion affect your view on a journalistic story.

    “another useless waste of life is being glorified for being a “nice guy.””

    I can’t even believe that you would call this guy a waste of life! I can’t even imagine how you would think that was somehow ok! Really? Really? Jesus Christ!

  8. I have been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for over thirty years. I have lived in many parts of United States, New Jersey, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington State. I have been a member of twelve different congregations over the past thirty years. I mention this because I am about to make a statement concerning my faith and I would like to give those of you who are sincere a chance to accept what I am saying as true.

    We (as in Jehovah’s Witnesses) do not hide our beliefs from people. If you would like to know exactly what we believe call the local Kingdom Hall and ask for literature and a visit from a local representative. We do have what ex-Witnesses call, strict beliefs. For example, we don’t allow our members to use tobacco or illegal drugs while remaining in our fellowship. However, this “rule” isn’t some arbitrary self-preservation, hiding-from-life rule made up by a bunch of old men whose wigs are on way too tight. This belief is based on very clear Bible principles. When we become Jehovah’s Witnesses it is after a period of time where we study the Bible in order to understand what Jehovah God wants from people. We then make the choice to become a member of the faith or not. If we decide we would like to live by Bible principles we say so and are baptized at a public event, where we in essence go on record publicly that we agree to live by those principles. If at some future time we decide we would like to live contrary to Bible teachings we are asked to leave.

    I knew that was the setup when I joined. It isn’t easy living by Bible standards. I am not perfect and I make mistakes. But if I ever decide to quit living the life I have lived for over thirty years, I hope I have enough honesty, integrity and self-awareness NOT to blame the entire faith for my troubles.

    I have no idea what the people who write nasty things and who are detractors of our faith went through, or why they choose to follow every Google search news item about us so they can vent. All I know is that they lie and misrepresent us (whether that lie is intentional or due to self-deception or misinformation I can’t say). Or to put it personally; they lie and misrepresent me and my beliefs.

    They are Ex. They are no longer my Brothers and Sister. Sadly they now attack me. I do not follow them around and attack them. They are troubled and for that I am sorry. I know that they will never heal as long as they blame others for their troubles.

    The bottom line? Weldon Howe seems to be a nice fellow. I think that his telling the story of the young man who got knocked down was not the best decision. It detracts from the beauty of the message. The message…The Bible teaches that this present system, with all of is exclusionary, selfish, competitive ways, must end IF the human race is to survive. Human Beings just cannot rule themselves successfully. If you disagree then please provide evidence to the contrary. The Bible story is about humans turning their back on their Creator and going their own way. We are at the end of the story or trial period. We now need intervention to save the planet. THAT is Weldon’s message. I applaud him taking action to tell others.

    All the best.

  9. when i was in my early 20s I knew Weldon,he broke bread with my wife & I.That was almost 40 yrs ago.we were young and searching for truth.what we found in Weldon was love,empathy,compassion…..truth.these people who have responded to this article are narrow minded in the least and so judgmental.While Im not JW Iam at least non judgmental.While I have studied historical christian dogma the truth is that what Christendom calls orthodox is 3rd century post apostolic pagan/greek dogma.ok kids here is the trinity conspirasy!this is the reason JWs are hated.end of story.300 years after christs death the pagan emperor Constantine mandated rules to live by{or die by]yes bros he executed all who dissented.those who survived now professed belief in the trinity.to this day Christendom has held to this.talk about shunning,seriously,try to join your local calvary chapel,without a trinitarian belief.you will be tossed to the curb.take that to the bank!!! you speak of cults,yes Ive read them all including steves.take away the trinity and the churchs are all the same.Ive been there done that.when was the last time you saw a methadist preacher do anything with out a paycheck.do any of you have works with your faith? before I call you all hypocrits I with draw my claim to be nonjudgmental.your humanism will only get as far as the grave………………..

  10. I wonder if you could let me know what is the theme that youre using, please? I have been finding for this theme!

  11. My friend and I were just arguing about the topic you referred to in your blog post and apparently, I win the discussion! Thank you for clearing it out.

  12. To all of you who have been so negative, biased and hateful about another’s beliefs, I would like to ask you a question or two. First, if you were a Jew or Roman citizen during the time of Christ, what would be your reaction to his message and that of his followers? Would you have reeled at his words, “I came to start a fire?” …families will be devided (over his teachings) father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother.” Luke 12:49, 53. What about his words regarding sanctity of marriage, Paul’s admonition against homosexuality, etc., etc. Would you have reeled against God’s commands (yes, COMMANDS) against his people having anything to do with the Cannanites because of their depravity? Or do you feel the same way as you do against people who are simply trying to live their lives according to bible instruction. After all, what right did God have to descriminate (or shun) anyone. Right? Regarding this item of Jehovah’s Witnesses somehow shunning the rest of one’s family due to their religion, that is pure bunk! I have been one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1954. Most of my relatives are not Witnesses, yet my wife and I have a great relationship with them. The only thing we don’t attend is some get-together such as Christmas or Easter. Other than that, absolutely no problem! In fact, you might want to think of your own motives along this line. If I were to tell you that I could not attend a function, would you then assume I am wrecking the family. OR…could it be that you are so self-centered that you feel that your feelings are paramount and I must come to make you happy, even if I am uncomfortable in doing so. Your position sounds kinda selfish and small, doesn’t it? By the way, have you ever seen Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrating or picketing or going against civil authority to try and force others to adopt their way of life? You have not. They believe in being peaceful and caring folks who are living their lives in a way that brings them happiness. They talk to others simply because they are commanded by Jesus to do so. (Matt. 28:19,20)
    So please stop with the hateful speech about our faith. We turn away no one. If they choose to associate with us, wonderful. If not, they are free to do whatever they want. But we do require they follow what the bible clearly says and live a christian life. No cult, no mind control. Those are your buzz words. They are not fact.

  13. Yet an additional exciting comment, thanks a great deal. I’ve manufactured a stage of reading through some other stuff you manufactured and I you’ve received some nice content material. Cudos.

  14. Wow. You call it hate speech to go after a Muslim who’s doctrine allows sex with children and animals but Christians yes I man jw you manufacture hate speech. Shame on you.

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