A Singing Career That Brings Lasting Happiness
EARLY in my life, I dedicated myself to a singing career. In time I established a reputation as a fado singer in Lisbon. This is Portugal’s unique, nostalgic type of music. Soon I was performing in other cities of Portugal as well as on the country’s principal radio station, Emissora Nacional.
Then my impresario arranged a tour in Spain, which included cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Bilbao. After a performance in France, I spent over two years in Angola, Africa. There I sang in one city after another, and in 1972 I was chosen as “Queen of Fado.”
However, being a soprano, classical music was really my main interest. So back in Lisbon, I started musical studies in this type of music. Yet, although fully absorbed in my singing career, I was not really happy. Inside of me there was a spiritual void. I wanted to feel close to God, but I did not know how to approach him.
In 1973 I was in Brazil on a singing tour. One evening, after a TV presentation, those of us who performed were invited to a cocktail party. Before long my Brazilian impresario’s wife had us expressing our thoughts about distressing social conditions and world events. I was impressed by her openness in confidently suggesting that God might have an answer worthy of our consideration. I let it be known that I believed in God. Before the evening was over, she kindly offered me a book entitled The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. Only later did I realize that she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
My Last Record
Shortly thereafter, I went back to Portugal to make my third record, with full intentions of returning to Brazil to continue my tour. Little did I realize that this would be my last record.
While I was in Lisbon, a young woman called at my home and began speaking about the blessings that God’s Kingdom rule would bring to this earth. I listened carefully as she read from the Bible the most interesting and welcome changes that God has promised those who yearn for righteousness.
What I was hearing had a tremendous impact on me. I had been longing for the very conditions she was describing from the Bible. It was very comforting to me because although still young, I was already divorced, my husband having run off with another woman.
You can imagine my surprise when next this lady offered me the same book that I had received in Brazil! The conversations that followed quickened in me the realization that there was something more precious in life than fame or wealth. I was determined to learn more about the wonderful promises found in the Bible.
A Big Decision
My weekly study of the Bible was a most enjoyable experience. Quickly I began to develop a close personal relationship with my Creator, Jehovah God.
To be sure, there were trying moments after I decided to give up my lucrative career as a professional singer. A lot of pressure was brought upon me to return to Brazil. Then I was offered a contract to perform in Porto in northern Portugal. The idea was that by getting me away from Lisbon, I might change my mind and continue my singing career.
However, my decision had been made. I decided to go to France to live with my married sister so I could be completely free from attempts to lure me back to the entertainment world. But as it turned out, she and her husband fiercely opposed my newfound faith. They would not even allow me to have my weekly Bible study in their home. Undaunted, I traveled 20 miles [30 km] round-trip so I would not miss my study. Finally, they asked me to leave their home.
Being on my own now, I found employment with a wealthy woman. She was planning a three-month vacation on her privately owned Greek island, and I was invited to accompany her. But I saw the potential danger in being isolated from Jehovah’s people, so I decided not to make the trip.
Instead, that summer I attended the Portuguese sessions of the 1974 district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Toulouse, France. Over 12,000 were present. There, I was baptized in symbol of my dedication to Jehovah God. That was my first convention, and interestingly, it was the last convention that the Portuguese Witnesses had to attend abroad because their large conventions were banned in Portugal. After that year they were permitted to have their conventions in Portugal.
A New Career
Preconvention activity for one month at Toulouse had a profound effect on me. What a unique privilege it was to enjoy daily contact with stalwart Christian brothers and sisters who had maintained their integrity for years under the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal!
The result of close association with those in the full-time ministry created in me a strong desire to become a full-time minister like them. Thus, six months after I was baptized, I began that ministry in Portugal. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to serve in a special assignment. And who was to be my partner? Maria Eulalia da Luz, the same Witness who had offered me the Truth book in Lisbon!
Southern Portugal was our first special assignment. This was a region that had been dominated by the Communist Party after the 1974 revolution. A hysterical spirit permeated the small towns where we preached in Baixo Alentejo Province. Soon we were the target of fierce opposition.
Attempting to discourage us, men frequently stoned our rented house, resulting in many a sleepless night. Next, a bomb exploded, destroying the lock on the main door. Unbelievably, a man who had opposed our work then rented us a better house, recognizing that it was dangerous for us to be so isolated. One day opposers knocked down the front door while we were away. Imagine our surprise when we returned to find our new landlord guarding the house! We thanked Jehovah for His protection.—Psalm 145:18, 19.
Despite such opposition, our work there proved to be very fruitful. By the time we left the area, we were happy to see two new congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses formed, each having a lovely Kingdom Hall.
A Real Challenge
In 1977 our assignment was changed to the Madeira Islands. Although the scenery is breathtaking in this semitropical land, we found ourselves facing mountainous terrain that was physically exhausting.
In this assignment we were now meeting people who were exactly the opposite from those in our previous one. Religious devotion was centered around “saints.” There was much illiteracy, and superstition was a powerful influence in the lives of the people. We were actually seeing the effects of the spiritual “heavy loads” that false religious leaders place on the shoulders of people. This created in us a powerful motivating force to bring spiritual refreshment, at all costs, to these “toiling and loaded down” souls.—Matthew 11:28, 29; 23:4.
We often heard people say that being Catholic, they did not need anything from us. I asked if they still recited the wonderful “Our Father” prayer. When they answered affirmatively, I mentioned how we all longed for God’s will to be done on earth, since man is not accomplishing much good these days. When they agreed, I asked if they wondered what God’s will is for us. Often, this method won a hearing ear, and a friendly conversation was under way.
One day I was talking with a lady who showed interest in the Kingdom message when suddenly I was jolted by firecrackers exploding all around me. The man assailing me was the ill-tempered son of the interested lady. Furiously, he threw a book at me, hitting my legs. Brandishing a sickle used in the banana harvest, he threatened to kill me, raising the sickle over my head. Suddenly, out from the banana groves came another man, the only person he respected and feared. He shouted in an authoritative voice: “What are you doing?” and prevented the wild man from attacking me.
On two other occasions in this assignment, my life was threatened, and each time I saw Jehovah’s protective hand over me. (Psalm 68:19, 20) Actually, this territory proved to be quite receptive to the good news about God’s Kingdom, and when we left, there were many more attending our meetings.
In another area in the Madeira Islands, I started studying the Bible with a lady whose husband was not favorable toward us. But he had great respect for the Bible. He was a baker working nights, and unbeknownst to us, after waking up, he would eavesdrop on our weekly study. His interest became greater with each study, but he was confused about God’s name being Jehovah.
He decided to investigate this matter for himself in his own Bible but could not find the Bible. He wanted to discover the truth about God’s name and anxiously wanted to find his “old, genuine Bible” to settle the matter. Not long after, during a thorough cleaning at the bakery, his precious Bible was found. Eagerly he looked up several references, and there it was. Unmistakably, the personal name of God was indeed Jehovah! (Psalm 83:18) In a short time, he made outstanding progress and was baptized. Today he serves faithfully in the congregation.
Presently, I am serving in northern Portugal in the city of Braga. For years this has been a religious center with a prominent Catholic shrine and university. But who could have imagined that the day would come when many churches would find their membership declining? Yet, this is now happening.
We meet many people who believe in evolution and who readily profess to be agnostics. The publication Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? with its facts in support of creation is a powerful instrument in “overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”—2 Corinthians 10:5.
The Best Career
Looking back over the past 15 years, I have no doubt that I chose the best career, using my voice not for entertaining but for talking to others about God’s marvelous promises. The warm invitation to use one’s voice to declare the “good news” comes from Jehovah himself and is open to all who will accept it.—Matthew 24:14; Romans 10:13-15.
What a grand opportunity has been given us to try to reach the hearts of those who are toiling and loaded down, encouraging them to ‘come and take life’s water free’! (Revelation 22:17) It is the message itself from God’s Word that touches a sensitive cord in the hearts of humble people. My partner in the full-time ministry and I feel privileged to continue using our voices, not for fame or wealth, but for praising God and bringing eternal blessings to others.
I feel that the “singing” career I now have is far superior to my former singing career, for I am doing as the psalmist said: “Sing to Jehovah, bless his name. From day to day tell the good news of salvation by him.” (Psalm 96:2)—As told by Madalena Ferraz Martins.
[Picture on page 24]
Madalena Ferraz Martins and her partner in the full-time ministry, Maria Eulalia da Luz