They Found It—A Meaningful Life!
BIAGIO is an Italian, now in his 20’s. At 17 he began wandering around Europe. “I thumbed lifts from one place to another,” he says, “and had no other home than the sleeping bag on my back. Having my freedom was very important to me and I felt really free!” But not for long.
“When I returned home boredom would sweep over me. I wondered if it was possible to lead a fuller life. Outside the family circle I had no friends, no one was waiting to see me on my return and no one expected me to do anything. Quite often, as I sat watching people passing on the street, I wondered what others made of life. Sometimes I got drunk, usually when I was by myself and lonely.
“The sense of futility I experienced has driven some young people to drug dependence or even suicide. Once, in Amsterdam, when I was about to enter a place where drugs circulated freely, a young man threw himself off the balcony in a moment of depression, killing himself outright. He just missed me in his fall to the ground.
“I began to realize that the very evils we young people rejected in the ‘system’ were present among us too. We were not free from opportunism, strife, or egotism, and among ourselves we had merely created a system parallel to the old one. For example, young men professing high ideals encouraged their female companions to prostitute themselves to earn money.
“We condemned society, but we did not really want to do anything about it. Why not? We had no desire to work for a better future because we could not see any worthwhile future in the offing. I found myself growing more and more cynical. By the time I was 20 I felt old.
“One night at a friend’s place I came across a book about the Bible. It was called ‘The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life,’ published by the Watchtower Society. I read a few chapters . . .”
From that book Biagio learned that God had originally purposed for mankind to live together in peace and love. He found out that God cannot be held responsible for the worldwide greed and oppression that so upsets honest-hearted persons today.—Deuteronomy 32:4, 5.
But if God isn’t responsible for the present world conditions, who is? “The chapter entitled ‘Are There Wicked Spirits?’ convinced me that Satan, the spirit creature who long ago rebelled against God, is dominating this entire system of things,” Biagio recalls. In fact, the Bible refers to Satan as “the god of this system of things” or “the evil god of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4, New World Translation; Today’s English Version) No wonder the world reflects such a selfish, cruel spirit!
But there is good news too. “I discovered that the Bible spoke of things I had always yearned for,” says Biagio. “It promised a new system of things free from war, disease, old age and death.” Yes, like millions of others who have read The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, Biagio was thrilled to learn that the Bible has much to say about the future of our earth. It is not merely a book about the ‘hereafter.’ Does not the Bible say that “the meek shall inherit the earth”? (Psalm 37:11, Authorized Version) If God is not interested in setting matters straight on earth, why would Jesus have told his disciples to pray: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth”?—Matthew 6:10.
Excited by what he had learned, Biagio contacted Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a regular Bible study was arranged with him. “Right from the start, the scripture in John 8:32 appealed to me,” he relates. “It says, ‘The truth will set you free.’ I began to understand what true liberty means.” Now Biagio could see why his “free” life-style had been so unsatisfying. “I had really been a slave all along,” he says, “although I had tried to escape.”
“I began to attend the meetings held by the Witnesses and they kindly welcomed me to their Bible studies. The young people I met at these meetings were different from those I had known. They were happy, kind and respectful. Everyone had his own personal dignity and tried hard to show love for others. These were things I had always wanted to see put into practice!”
Many youths, like Biagio, have a vision of a better world. Perhaps you do. If you could be convinced that such a world is not just a dream, but a certainty, how would you feel? Would you be moved to want to share that “good news” with others? Biagio was. “I stopped smoking, improved my grooming, and told my girl friend that we could not continue to live an immoral life and have God’s approval,” he recalls. “I realized the necessity of these changes myself, without being told what to do.” Biagio wanted to qualify for baptism as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Why? Because Jehovah’s Witnesses helped him to find hope for the future and meaning in life. Biagio wanted to join the Witnesses in sharing what he had found with others. Today he and his wife are special pioneers, full-time preachers of the “good news.”
“Real freedom does not mean merely pleasing oneself,” he says. “I know that from experience. Other people need to know it too. The best way to show love for our neighbors is to spread this knowledge and help others to find a worthwhile way of life.”
Learning the truth about God’s kingdom gave Biagio hope for the future. The natural desire to share that hope with others gave him something truly worthwhile to do with his life.
Khem’s Search for the Purpose of Life
“Although young, I was a successful writer in my native Cambodia,” relates Khem. “I had prestige, success, a well-paying job—everything that young people wish. Nevertheless, I did not see any particular sense in life. In fact, I wrote a novel entitled ‘Life Has No Purpose.’
“You see, I was raised as a strict Buddhist, but lost faith in that religion. After abandoning Buddhism I turned to philosophy, but soon found that for every philosopher there was an ‘anti-philosopher.’ What was I to believe? Time and again I asked myself what was I living for?
“In the 1970’s Cambodia was plunged into civil war. I witnessed executions. I saw mass graves as well as rivers and lakes that were full of dead bodies and literally red with blood. Two thousand years of Cambodian tradition were swept away almost overnight. No Cambodian would have thought it possible!
“The authorities were searching for me. So, with others, I fled into the jungle, hoping to reach Thailand. On that trip I thought much about the existence of God. How wonderful and intricate the creation is! Somehow it was not satisfying to give credit for this to mere accident or blind natural forces. Why not give the honor to a wise Creator?
“I pondered that question for a long time. Then, for the first time in my life, I really prayed from the heart. For the first time I realized that there has to be a Creator. But what was his purpose for man? Why does he permit suffering and evil such as I had witnessed in my own country? Which religion worships the true God? I realized that if I made it through the jungle, my search for answers to these questions would have priority in my life. After 10 days, worn out and half starved, we arrived in Thailand.
“At the refugee camp in Thailand I obtained a Bible in my native language and learned that the God who revealed himself to the ancient Jews was also the God of the Christians. From the Bible I saw that he has a personal name, Jehovah. I wanted to get to know this God better.
“After five months in Thailand I emigrated to Austria. One day I found a handbill that invited me to a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The name Jehovah meant something to me, but who were his witnesses? What could they bear witness to? Skeptical and curious I visited their Kingdom Hall.
“Since I was still learning German, I did not understand all of the talk I heard, but I did grasp that I was learning the good news of God’s kingdom. By means of Jehovah’s kingdom the earth was to be made a paradise, where people will no longer shed tears of grief and suffering and in which God will ‘make all things new.’ (Revelation 21:3-5) This was exactly what I expected from a mighty and righteous God! But why had not Jehovah created such a world long ago?
“The Witnesses began regular Bible discussions with me, answering my questions,” Khem says. During those discussions he learned that God created the world to be without pain, suffering and evil. These elements, which made Khem wonder about the meaning of life, had no place in God’s original purpose. It was not until mankind rejected Jehovah’s rulership that such troubles began. But the evidence is unmistakable that mankind’s sad history of rebellion and alienation from God will soon end!
“I rejoiced to find a religion that was proving its beliefs to me from the Bible, not asking blind belief,” Khem now says. “How much I would love to share the good news of God’s kingdom with my grief-stricken people in Cambodia! Since this is not presently possible, I am publishing the ‘good news’ to my fellowmen in Austria. What a privilege to be God’s co-worker and to have a share in this lifesaving work! Now I can say, full of joy, life does have a purpose!”
[Blurb on page 9]
“The sense of futility I experienced has driven some young people to drug dependence or even suicide”
[Blurb on page 10]
If God isn’t responsible for the present world conditions, who is?
[Blurb on page 11]
Khem learned that God will make this earth a paradise free from suffering