Never Too Old to Change
LAST year a seventy-year-old minister in Sweden received an invitation to attend the 39th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in Brooklyn, New York. Rather than thinking he was too old to receive ten months of intensive ministerial training, he was happy at the prospects. He was anxious for the advanced training, even though the many things learned might necessitate making changes in the way he had been doing certain things.
It is this willingness to do something new, to make changes and adjustments when needed, that keeps older persons active and young at heart. There is no need to feel bound to familiar ideas and habits just because you are advanced in years. When long-held beliefs are shown to be in error, there is no excuse for dismissing the responsibility that new information may bring by saying: “I’m too old to change.” As long as one is alive, he is never too old to change his ways.
One who continues to follow religious teachings that are in conflict with God’s Word the Bible is displeasing to God. So a difficult decision faces an older person when he learns that his religious beliefs do not have Biblical support. What will he do? Will he meet the challenge, even though it may involve a radical change in his life? Unfortunately many lack the initiative, courage and humility to make a careful study of God’s Word and to bring their lives into harmony with its righteous principles. There are, of course, exceptions.
One such exception is ninety-six-year-old Sista Vasquez, who lives in Golfito, Costa Rica. As a Roman Catholic, she had failed to receive instruction from God’s Word throughout her long life. But on learning what God requires, as a result of a study of the Bible with visiting ministers, she was baptized in water last year, symbolizing her dedication to serve Him. Although Sista Vasquez is blind and cannot walk, she never misses an opportunity to witness to the many people that visit her home. Talking to others about the good news of God’s kingdom brings her a happiness that she would never have realized had she felt that she was too old to change.
It is true that it is much better to do as the Bible says, and remember “your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” Later, when “the calamitous days proceed to come, or the years have arrived when you will say: ‘I have no delight in them,’” it is much more difficult to be active in serving God. But even though you are now old and the calamities associated with old age have caused you to lose your delight in life, this does not mean that it is too late to change. Really, the only way to find true contentment is to make the changes needed to do the will of God.—Eccl. 12:1.
Suba Sesay, who was born 110 years ago, on August 8, 1854, in Sierra Leone, Africa, will be one of the first persons to vouch for this. After a very active life, Pa Suba, as he is called by acquaintances, went blind in 1938. “I used to pray sincerely to die,” he explained. “I was made to believe that my blindness was a punishment for the seventy-five leopards I killed as a hunter.” As a result of such false teachings and his loss of sight, life had become a calamity for Pa Suba, and he found no delight in living.
This outlook soon changed, however, when Bible truth was finally brought to him by one of Jehovah’s witnesses and he learned the true cause for suffering and about God’s promised new system of things. (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:4) He gladly accepted this Bible message and conformed his life to its teachings. “If it pleases Jehovah God to overlook my past life and accept me,” he said, “why should I feel too old to change?” So at the age of 107 he was baptized at a Christian Bible assembly in Port Loko.
Since that time Pa Suba has found real happiness and contentment in associating with Christian people and in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom to others. Although blind and slightly incapacitated, he, nevertheless, uses every opportunity to talk about the Bible to anyone that calls to say Hello. He also goes out on his porch and witnesses to passers-by. In this way he was able to maintain a monthly average of fourteen hours in the preaching work last year—and that at the age of 109!
It is extremely unlikely that you are that old. So if persons well past a hundred years old can learn Bible truth, conform their lives to it and preach it to others, you can too. In fact, it is absolutely necessary that you make such a change. Your life in God’s new system of things depends upon it.
But perhaps, in addition to being advanced in years, your native tongue is not the language of the community in which you live. Should a person consider himself too old to learn a new language in order to express to his neighbors the good things he has learned from the Bible?
Two years ago a young Italian-speaking minister in Providence, Rhode Island, started a Bible study with an eighty-year-old man who did not think that he was too old to learn to speak English. When it was pointed out to this man that he should attend all congregation meetings, he started doing so, even though, to begin with, he could not understand everything that was said. But as a result of his regular attendance and use of the English language, he was soon able to speak English clearly enough to give an effective Bible sermon. Although he is now eighty-two years old, he is a regular house-to-house preacher who also shares in the full-time ministry during certain periods of the year!
How evident it is that if one truly wants to do the will of God, he is never too old to do so! True, it may be much more difficult for an older person to make the adjustments to serve God, but it can be done. Jehovah God himself will help you change. He promises his support. In his Word he says that “even to one’s old age I am the same One; and to one’s gray-headedness I myself shall keep bearing up.”—Isa. 46:4.