God’s Word Can Enrich People’s Lives
WHETHER they recognize it or not, humans have spiritual needs. “Man must live, not on bread alone,” said Jesus Christ in turning back the Devil’s temptation, “but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4) That is why even people who have considerably more than the necessities of life may keenly sense a certain emptiness when their spiritual needs are not satisfied. Though realizing that something is definitely lacking, they often do not know just what it is, and the turmoil existing in the world adds to their feeling of dissatisfaction.
This was the experience of a man in California. He tells of his circumstances and feelings:
“My wife and I had a good marriage, two nice boys, a home, cars, a sailboat, all the amenities of life and two well-paying jobs to take care of it all. But we were both dissatisfied with the way the world was—the unrelenting grind in gaining and holding on to material things. We had a foreboding feeling about the future of the world.
“We felt we needed to escape. We both enjoyed the ocean, and so we thought about building a boat and sailing off to an island, where our children would be safe in virtual isolation. Of course, we were also thinking of ourselves. We were always reading books about others who had sailed off, and we were constantly dreaming of faraway places, where we could be free of the smog and the workaday world. We began building a large sailboat in 1969, trying to be oblivious to the trouble around us.
“Many times Jehovah’s witnesses called at our home. My wife usually answered the door, because I was working at two jobs trying to pay for everything. One Saturday, however, a Witness came to the door and I answered. We began discussing the Bible, and he asked some questions that I could not answer.”
This conversation sparked the man’s interest. Shortly thereafter both he and his wife began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. Did that study of God’s Word enrich their family life? Did it supply what had been missing? The man continues: “We were just overjoyed with what we learned and the tremendous hope that was unfolding before our eyes. We could see that the only true escape or release from this system of ours would come about through God’s kingdom by Christ.”
No longer did they seek to escape by going to another location. When the boat was completed it was not used for what had been intended, but was sold. The man and his wife now rejoice in being able to use their assets in helping others to appreciate that God’s Word can indeed enrich people’s lives.
Gaining Fame Is Not Enough
Men and women who pursued fame are among others who have come to see that life is empty if spiritual needs are not cared for. A man in northwestern Africa who was in this situation relates:
“From my very early youth I set as my goal being world renowned as an athlete, bringing honor, not only to myself, but also to Africa. After years of vigorous training, calling for many sacrifices, I saw myself climbing the ladder of glory and fame as an international boxer. What pride I had in representing my country and black Africa in Russia, Germany and other European countries! Yet the suffering and crime that I saw and heard about throughout my travels saddened me very much.
“Trained carefully in my religion by my father, who is a powerful religious leader in my country’s capital city, I had learned that all this suffering was the will of Allah our God. But I wondered, If God is really the Creator of man, why does he want man to suffer so?
“Then one day, at the swimming pool in my home city, where I was working as a swimming instructor, I was approached by a young, sincere-looking fellow African who started to direct the conversation from sports to world conditions and to the hope there is for a real remedy. The man was one of Jehovah’s witnesses.
“Thus for the first time I heard of the true God and real Creator of man, Jehovah, and of his loving purposes to rid the earth of all crime and suffering, to the lasting benefit of men of all races.
“Little did I realize that I was about to start another course of training, no, not ‘bodily training that is beneficial for a little, but godly devotion, which is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.’ (1 Tim. 4:8) Shortly thereafter we were having regular studies in God’s Word of truth, the Bible, a book that I had heard of only vaguely. I began to see that participating with one’s whole soul in boxing matches left no time or energy for running the race that leads to everlasting life; a life filled with spending all one’s efforts in trying to get personal glory and fame left no time to bring glory to the only one who deserves it, Jehovah, the Maker of the human body. But abandoning a sports career is not easy, especially when it also involves one’s religion and even members of one’s immediate family. There was fierce and prolonged opposition from my wife, father and friends, but my earnest desire was to serve my heavenly Father.”
Because of his acting in harmony with that desire he no longer feels the emptiness that fame could not fill. The Bible has given him real hope that soon distressing world conditions will be no more. He is eagerly sharing this good news with others so that they, too, might enjoy a more purposeful life now.
Living Only for the Present Is Unsatisfying
While not pursuing fame, others have felt that the best thing for them would be to get as much out of life materially as they could or to live only for pleasure. As a result, many have taken up an injurious way of life. But they, too, can be helped through a study of God’s Word to start in a course that can enrich their lives. From Central America comes this experience:
“My ambition was to obtain money without working too hard. This, and also the association that I had, resulted in my becoming involved in the illicit business of drug traffic. Soon I became a habitual user of marijuana. I also started living freely with a woman and became the father of a daughter. Then, in August 1970, I was arrested with a shipment of marijuana in a small plane. In time I was sentenced to five years in prison.
“I was frustrated about what had happened to me until, one day, I received a visit. The visitor was a postal employee, one of Jehovah’s witnesses, who brought me a letter and a package with some books, including the ‘New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures’ and ‘The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.’ The letter was from the woman with whom I had been living. She had begun to study with Jehovah’s witnesses and was deeply affected by what she was learning.
“Never before had I read God’s Word. The Witness who had brought me the literature continued to visit me. This moved me to devote myself to reading the Bible daily. A month after reading it, I said to myself, ‘Well, Charles, you cannot have God’s Word in one hand and marijuana in the other.’ So I stayed with God’s Word and gave up marijuana. The same thing happened with the use of tobacco in the following month.
“Later I received another visitor, the presiding overseer of the congregation with which the postal employee was associated. From then on, Bible studies were conducted with me. As time passed, more persons visited me so that I, though alone and without relatives, was the one that received the most visits in the prison.
“What I learned from the Bible caused me to change my personality completely. I ceased being slovenly in appearance, and I was moved to speak to others about the good things that I was learning.
“In time I had the desire to symbolize my dedication to Jehovah by water baptism. But it was a little difficult because there was no pool in the prison. However, I obtained a little lumber and with some rudimentary tools I made a box and covered the inside with waterproof polyethylene. A circuit assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses was soon to be held in the city where the prison was located, and arrangements were made for the circuit overseer and the presiding overseer to come to the prison so that I could be baptized.
“I continued telling others in the prison about the good news of hope for all people. Some listened, and a study was started in the ‘Watchtower’ magazine and held in my cell every Sunday.
“Then a letter arrived from the secretary of the interior. It commended me for my conduct and change of personality. But what made me most grateful to Jehovah is that in the same letter I was told that for every two days of cultural activity that I carried on as a publisher of the good news, my prison sentence would be reduced by one day.
“So, then, far from becoming free at the end of 1975, today, in August 1973, thanks to the undeserved kindness of Jehovah, I am completely free. I was deported to my country of origin, the United States. I legalized my marriage with the woman who had been my concubine and who is now serving as a faithful witness of Jehovah. We are determined to serve our Creator all the time that he permits in this present system of things.”
Similarly, a young man from Ohio observed how, in his own case, living just for the present, indulging in so-called “pleasures,” soon left him feeling that his life was meaningless. He says:
“Two years ago I left home and started out on my own. I rented an apartment with several friends and, before I realized it, was on the road to ruin. Every day of my life was spent getting drugs, using drugs, selling drugs at a profit and using women for unclean purposes. What fun I thought I was having! But wild parties that included excessive use of alcohol, drugs and loose conduct soon began to be unpleasant. The parties became chaotic, with physical fighting to the point of almost killing one another. I knew I had to get out of this way of life and instill some purpose into my own life, for I no longer had a reason to live.
“I had always believed in a Creator and had often wondered, ‘Did he mean for us to live this type of life?’ Memories of one of Jehovah’s witnesses’ coming to the house and studying the Bible when I was in elementary school now came back to me. A friend lent me his Bible and I started to study it, began going to the Kingdom Hall on my own and, after two years of studying, I decided to get baptized.”
Truly the Bible can enrich people’s lives by supplying the needed spiritual things. If you are among the many who are becoming aware of their need for more than material things and pleasures, why not visit a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses near your home and see for yourself what help God’s Word can be to you?