The Bible Changes Lives
WHY did a popular singer give up her career to become a full-time minister of religion? And what enabled a criminal described by a judge as being beyond reform to become a productive member of society? Read these accounts to find the answers.
“No One Can Slave for Two Masters.”—ANTOLINA ORDEN CASTILLO
YEAR BORN: 1962
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SPAIN
HISTORY: ACTRESS AND ZARZUELA SINGER
MY PAST: I was born in the small village of Tresjuncos, in the region known as La Mancha. My family worked the land. My mother was Catholic, and my father, Protestant. He taught me to respect the Bible; I saw him reading it all the time. But my mother raised me as a Catholic and took me to Mass every Sunday.
When I was 15, I left the village and went to live in Madrid with my older sister. I missed my parents a lot but eventually adapted to city life. When I was 17, I had the chance to work for a few months with a zarzuela, a traditional Spanish light opera. I enjoyed that life very much and decided to become an actress. I quit the secretarial course I was taking and began working with different zarzuela companies. About this time, I began a relationship with the brother of one of my friends. I felt so fortunate to have a good job, money, and love.
I began touring with different zarzuela companies throughout Spain as well as in other countries, such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Venezuela. I also sang with various groups that belonged to a popular musical movement in Madrid known as “La movida madrileña.” One of the groups for which I was the main vocalist became very successful.
I liked the work but not the immoral atmosphere. Moreover, I became obsessed with my appearance and with maintaining my image. I kept to a very strict diet and began suffering from anorexia and bulimia.
My main goal still was to become an actress. Eventually, I was accepted at the Madrid School of Dramatic Arts. We were taught that acting requires that the individual dig into the character’s feelings and also into his or her own feelings. When I applied this advice, I realized that I was emotionally empty. I had become a superficial, selfish woman.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: I knew that if I wanted to develop good qualities, I would have to work at it. But I didn’t know where to start. I decided to go to an evangelical church in Madrid that I had once visited with my parents. I prayed to God, using his name, Jehovah.
Soon thereafter, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at my home. I eagerly discussed the Bible with them, but I also raised many objections to what they were teaching. Esther, the Witness who conducted a regular Bible study with me, was very patient. She and her family showed me a great deal of love and tenderness. I began attending the meetings conducted by the Witnesses and soon realized that I had found the truth I had been looking for.
I had just finished my dramatic arts studies when all sorts of career opportunities opened up. I secured a role in a production that would be staged in a famous theater in Madrid. But I also realized that to succeed as an actress, I would have to commit myself totally to the arts. I finally decided to try to find another form of employment, one that would allow me to focus on serving God. I took to heart Jesus’ words: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.” (Matthew 6:24) My boyfriend of eight years did not share my convictions, so I decided to end the relationship. None of these changes were easy.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: At present, I work part-time, providing leisure activities and entertainment for the elderly. Doing so allows me to spend the majority of my time teaching the Bible to Arabic-speaking people who live in my area. I have to work hard at learning this new language, but I thoroughly enjoy sharing the good things that I have learned with people who are so hospitable and spiritually inclined.
The emptiness that I felt while I was studying to become an actress has now been replaced with a sense of purpose. I feel that Jehovah has helped me to become a better, happier person.
“I Have Proved the Judge Wrong.”—PAUL KEVIN RUBERY
YEAR BORN: 1954
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: ENGLAND
HISTORY: VIOLENT CRIMINAL
MY PAST: I was born in Dudley, a large industrial town in the West Midlands. From my childhood, Father instilled in me a love of reading. He also encouraged an appreciation for the marvels of nature, although he attributed those to evolution. He taught me that God did not exist. Even so, my parents sent me to a local Methodist Sunday school.
When I was eight, I saw some local boys set fire to a boat on the canal. The police came, but fear stopped me from talking to them. The boys had threatened me. I was unjustly accused of the crime and became resentful. In response, I vandalized some local schools, churches, and factories, leaving a trail of destruction worth thousands of dollars. By the time I was ten, I had started breaking into houses and shops to steal. I became fascinated with fire and committed many acts of arson. At school, the teachers described me as uncontrollable.
When I was 12, I discovered a book about the occult and made my own Ouija board. Because my parents didn’t believe in God, they thought that my interest in spiritism was just harmless fun and that it would keep me out of trouble. But by the time I left school, I had appeared many times before the juvenile court. I had joined a violent group called skinheads. I carried a razor and a bike chain as weapons. I found a job but soon lost it because I was sentenced to prison for a brief time. After my release, I again began vandalizing property and was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison. The judge described me as beyond reform and a menace to society.
After being released from prison, I met up with my former girlfriend, Anita. We married, and for a while I didn’t steal or cause trouble. After a few years, though, I returned to a life of crime. I began breaking into businesses and robbing their safes. I started taking drugs, drinking heavily, and carrying a gun. I was again arrested and sentenced to prison.
My lifestyle placed Anita under a great deal of stress. Her doctor gave her a prescription for tranquilizers but told her that what she really needed was a divorce. Fortunately for me, she didn’t take his advice.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: Early in our marriage, Anita studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses for a brief time. Then, while I was serving what was to be my final prison sentence, she was again contacted by the Witnesses. It so happened that on the same day, I prayed to God, saying, “If you really exist, prove it to me.”
When I was released from prison a few months later, I contacted the local vicar and asked him to study the Bible with me and Anita. He said that he would teach us only church creeds and a prayer.
Finally, I began reading the Bible. I was surprised to learn that the Bible condemns the practice of spiritism. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Later, I found a copy of The Watchtower that the Witnesses had left with Anita on the day that I had prayed to God for help. What I read moved me to contact the Witnesses.
Our families, our friends, and my criminal associates were not happy to learn that we were studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Some said that I was being brainwashed. In all honesty, my brain needed cleansing. I had many personality flaws, a seared conscience, and in addition to other vices, I was smoking up to 60 cigarettes a day. The Witnesses who helped us learn about the Bible and those with whom we associated in the local congregation were very patient and kind. Eventually, I freed myself of my bad habits.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Anita and I have been married now for 35 years. One of our children and two of our grandchildren serve Jehovah along with us. In recent years, Anita and I have been able to spend much of our time helping others learn about the Bible.
Serving Jehovah God has given our lives real purpose and meaning. Back in 1970, a judge told the court that I could not be reformed. However, with help from God and guidance from the Bible, I have proved the judge wrong.