The Bible Changes Lives
WHAT specific steps did a former gang member and marijuana addict take to overcome his harmful habits? Why did a thrash metal band member cut his long hair and change his attitude toward the music that he loved? What motivated a man who rejected religious and governmental authority to become a minister of religion? Consider what these people have to say.
“I Overcame My Addiction.”—PETER KAUSANGA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: NAMIBIA
HISTORY: GANG MEMBER AND MARIJUANA ADDICT
MY PAST: I grew up in the Kehemu, one of the four large settlements of the town of Rundu. People there made a living by selling millet, wood, and charcoal.
When I was only two years old, my mother died, so I was raised by my grandmother. We led simple lives. I was not rebellious by nature, but because of peer pressure, I landed in trouble. In school I became a member of a gang. That led to street fighting, bullying, stealing, smuggling of diamonds, and alcohol and drug abuse. Twice I was caught and jailed for burglary and for fraud.
I quit school in tenth grade and eventually moved away from my hometown and from the gang. I wanted a fresh start. But I was still addicted to marijuana. Sometimes I would walk miles just to get a marijuana cigarette.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: Early in 1999, I met some of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were offering their literature to people walking on the street. They treated me with respect and dignity, and that touched me deeply. The message contained in the literature I received convinced me that I had found the true religion. I started to study the Bible diligently and soon realized that I had to make changes in my life if I wanted to please Jehovah God.
I set a date when I would stop smoking and then destroyed anything I owned that was related to smoking. I also told my friends not to give me cigarettes and asked them not to smoke near me. Even so, things did not go as planned. I twice succumbed to my craving for cigarettes and marijuana. Still, this did not discourage me. I kept in mind the principle recorded at Proverbs 24:16: “The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up.” Eventually, I overcame my addiction.
The more I learned about Jehovah, the more I wanted to make him my closest friend. One Bible verse that touched my heart was Psalm 27:10: “In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.” As I continued my in-depth study of the Bible, I experienced the truthfulness of those words. I felt that Jehovah became to me a real and caring Father.
I also regularly associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Among them I could see a spirit of genuine friendship and love for one another. Never before had I experienced such a feeling.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: With Jehovah’s help and that of fellow Witnesses, I have improved my grooming, dress, conduct, and speech. Looking back, I think my life has changed in the way that an ugly caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly. My relatives are thankful for this transformation, and I have now gained their trust. Today, I am married and am striving to be a loving husband to my wife and a caring father to my children.
“I Have Found Real Purpose in Life.”—MARCOS PAULO DE SOUSA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: BRAZIL
HISTORY: THRASH METAL BAND MEMBER
MY PAST: My family lived in the town of Jaguariuna, in São Paulo. My parents were staunch Catholics, and when I was young, I served as an altar boy. As a result, my classmates in elementary school gave me the nickname Father. At the age of 15, though, I discovered heavy metal rock music. I began associating with rock singers. I let my hair grow. And in 1996, my father helped me buy my first drum kit.
In 1998, I joined a thrash metal rock band. The music we played was satanic and obscene. It glorified violence. The music influenced my thinking, conduct, and attitude. I became increasingly negative and aggressive.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: I first met Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1999. They offered to study the Bible with me, and I accepted, even though I really didn’t have much interest. However, what I learned from the Bible changed my outlook on life.
I was known as “the long-haired guy,” “the rock star,” or “the drummer.” But I began to realize that playing in the band had made me egocentric and competitive, and I became dissatisfied with my reputation. It dawned on me that the singers I worshipped had no real purpose in their lives. I gradually understood that if I wanted to please Jehovah God, I would have to leave behind heavy metal music and the lifestyle of immorality and idolatry that is linked with it.
I loved my music and my long hair. I wondered if I would survive without them. I also had a violent temper and knew that I would have to learn to control it. However, through my Bible study, I began to love Jehovah more and more. Learning of God’s love, patience, and mercy endeared him to me. I prayed to Jehovah for help to change, and he has helped me. I have learned for myself the truth of Hebrews 4:12. That verse says: “The word of God is alive and exerts power.”
When I began associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I discovered that they were different. For the first time in my life, I saw real love in action. This love was especially evident at the big conventions held by the Witnesses. I was impressed by the way zealous volunteers worked to make the gatherings more comfortable for others.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: With Jehovah’s help, I am now able to control my temper. I feel that I am no longer egocentric and proud.
I must admit that for a while, I missed my old lifestyle—but not anymore. Now I have found real purpose in life. I am happy that I am learning to become interested in other people and in their welfare.
“I Experience the Joy of Caring for Others.”—GEOFFREY NOBLE
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UNITED STATES
HISTORY: REJECTED RELIGIOUS AND GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY
MY PAST: I was raised in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a working-class seaside town. As an adult, I chose to live in a remote area of Vermont. By North American standards, my girlfriend and I had a very spartan existence. We had no electricity, so we heated our house and cooked our food with wood we collected from the forest. We had an outdoor latrine and no running water most of the year. We had rejected established society, and we looked the part. At one point, I took pride in the fact that I had not combed my hair for six months.
At that time, the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. This affected my attitude toward authority. I saw the hypocrisy in government and religion. I felt that there were no answers to be found in such institutions and that each individual should decide for himself what is right or wrong. So I thought nothing of stealing anything that I needed.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: My girlfriend and I had started reading the Bible but couldn’t make any sense of it. I was taking drugs, yet I was trying to give them up. My girlfriend wanted to get married and have children. At that point, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at our home, and she began to study the Bible with us.
I was soon able to stop my bad habits; however, it was more difficult for me to adjust my attitude toward authority. I had learned to question everything. I had grown up with very few boundaries on my behavior, so the idea of living by somebody else’s rules was difficult for me to accept.
I had always believed in a Creator, but I had formed only a vague concept of him. As I studied the Bible, though, Jehovah God’s personality became evident to me. I saw that he spelled out exactly what he wanted from me. There was nothing wishy-washy about his requirements. I also learned that he has a definite purpose for making the earth a paradise. (2 Peter 3:13) These truths made me want to change so that I would qualify to serve him.
I was especially impressed by the way Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to become involved in war. No other worldwide religion that I knew of held to the same Bible-based standard.
I knew that if I wanted to serve Jehovah, I would have to clean up my appearance. At first, I was uncomfortable with conforming to the dress standards promoted by the Witnesses. Neither I nor my friends owned a dress shirt, a pair of dress slacks, or dress shoes. And I certainly did not own a tie! But I cut my hair and improved my appearance. Even so, I remember the first time I went from door to door preaching. There was a pane of glass that reflected my new image. I wondered to myself, ‘What have I done?’ Eventually, I became comfortable with my new appearance.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: I married my girlfriend, and we are still happily married. The two of us have been able to raise our three children to love and serve Jehovah. I have also had the pleasure of helping others learn the same Bible truths that helped me to transform my life.
I used to pride myself on the fact that I didn’t care what others thought. Now I experience the joy of caring for others and having others care about me.
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“I would walk miles just to get a marijuana cigarette”
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“What I learned from the Bible changed my outlook on life”
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“I was uncomfortable with conforming to the dress standards promoted by the Witnesses”