The Bible Changes Lives
WHAT moved a Rastafarian to cut his dreadlocks and overcome his prejudice against white people? And what enabled a violent young man who collected money for drug dealers to change his lifestyle? Consider what these individuals have to say.
“I Even Overcame My Prejudice.”—HAFENI NGHAMA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: ZAMBIA
MY PAST: I was born in a refugee camp in Zambia. My mother had fled Namibia during a time of war and had joined the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO). This organization was fighting the South African regime that ruled Namibia at the time.
I lived in several refugee camps during the first 15 years of my life. Young ones in the SWAPO camps were groomed as pioneers for the liberation movement. We were politically indoctrinated and were taught to hate white people.
When I was 11, I wanted to be confirmed as a Christian in a camp church that was a conglomeration of Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and others. The pastor I talked to discouraged me from taking this step. From then on, I became atheistic in my beliefs. At age 15, though, my love for reggae music and my desire to undo some of the injustices suffered by black Africans led me to join the Rastafarian movement. I grew dreadlocks, smoked marijuana, gave up eating meat, and advocated freedom for blacks. However, I did not change my immoral lifestyle or give up watching violent movies. And I continued to use vulgar speech.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: In 1995, when I was about 20, I began thinking seriously about the course my life should take. I was studying all the Rastafarian publications I could find. Some of those made reference to the Bible, but the explanations did not make sense to me. So I decided to read the Bible for myself.
Later, a Rastafarian friend gave me a Bible study handbook published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. On my own, I studied this publication along with the Bible. Later, I met Jehovah’s Witnesses and continued my Bible study with them.
With great effort, I stopped smoking and heavy drinking. (2 Corinthians 7:1) I cleaned up my appearance, cut my dreadlocks, stopped viewing pornography and violent movies, and held back from using vulgar speech. (Ephesians 5:3, 4) Eventually, I even overcame my prejudice against white people. (Acts 10:34, 35) Making these changes involved getting rid of music that encouraged racism and cutting off association with my former friends, who would try to influence me to fall back into my old lifestyle.
After making those changes, I looked for a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and asked to join the religion. A Bible study was conducted with me. When I decided to get baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, my family was not happy. My mother told me to choose any other “Christian” religion but not Jehovah’s Witnesses. One of my uncles, who was a prominent member of the government, constantly criticized me for my decision to associate with the Witnesses.
However, learning about how Jesus dealt with people and then applying his counsel helped me to cope with opposition and ridicule. When I compared what the Witnesses teach with what the Bible says, I was convinced that I had found the true religion. For example, they follow the Bible’s command to preach to others. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 15:14) And they do not become involved in politics.—Psalm 146:3, 4; John 15:17, 18.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Learning to live by Bible standards has helped me in practical ways. For example, giving up marijuana has saved me from wasting hundreds of dollars each month. I no longer have hallucinations, and my mental and physical health have improved.
My life now has the direction and purpose that I had yearned for since I was a youth. And most important of all, I now feel that I have been able to draw close to God.—James 4:8.
“I’ve Learned to Control My Anger.”—MARTINO PEDRETTI
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRALIA
HISTORY: DRUG DEALER
MY PAST: My family moved often while I was growing up. I lived in small towns, a big city, and for a while at an aboriginal mission in the outback. I have some good memories of that time with my cousins and uncles—fishing, hunting, making boomerangs, and carving other things.
My father was a boxer and started teaching me to fight when I was very young. Violence became a way of life for me. In my teen years, I spent a lot of time drinking at bars. My friends and I would look for fights. We would use knives and baseball bats to attack a crowd of 20 or more people.
I made money by selling drugs and goods stolen by wharf workers. I also collected money for drug dealers and would intimidate people for them, using shotguns and pistols. My goal was to become an assassin. My motto was, Kill or be killed.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: I had heard about Jehovah’s Witnesses when I was growing up. When I was in my early 20’s, I remember asking my mother if she knew where any of them were. Two days later, a Witness named Dixon knocked on my door. After we had talked for a while, he invited me to a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I went to that meeting and have been attending those meetings for more than 20 years now. Every question I had, the Witnesses were able to answer for me from the Bible.
I enjoyed learning that Jehovah is interested in individuals, even ungodly ones. (2 Peter 3:9) I discovered that he is a loving Father who would look after me, even when no one else would. I was also relieved to learn that he would forgive my sins if I changed my ways. The Bible verses at Ephesians 4:22-24 had a big impact on me. That passage encouraged me to “put away the old personality” and to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will.”
It took time for me to change my lifestyle. I would go through the week without touching drugs, but on the weekend, when I was with my friends, I would give in. I realized that I would have to move away from my associates if I wanted to clean up my life, so I decided to move to another state. Some friends offered to accompany me on my trip, and I accepted. During the trip, they started smoking marijuana and offered me some. I told them that I was leaving those habits behind, and we parted company at the state border. I later found out that shortly afterward my friends robbed a bank, using a sawed-off shotgun.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Once I broke off my association with those companions, I found it much easier to make the needed changes in my life. In 1989, I became a baptized Witness. After I was baptized, my sister, my mother, and my father all joined me in serving Jehovah.
I have now been married for 17 years and have three lovely children. I have learned to control my anger, even when I am provoked. And I have learned to love people from all ‘tribes, races, and tongues.’ (Revelation 7:9) I feel that Jesus’ words have proved true in my case. He said: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:31, 32.
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Making changes involved getting rid of music that encouraged racism
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My friends and I would look for fights. We would use knives and baseball bats to attack a crowd of 20 or more people