The Bible Changes Lives
WHAT moved a man to return to the religious upbringing from which he had strayed? How did a young man find the father figure he had yearned for his whole life? Read what these people have to say.
“I Needed to Return to Jehovah.”—ELIE KHALIL
YEAR BORN: 1976
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: CYPRUS
HISTORY: PRODIGAL SON
MY PAST: I was born in Cyprus but grew up in Australia. My parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they did their best to instill in me a love for Jehovah and his Word, the Bible. In my teen years, however, I began to rebel. I would sneak out of the house at night to meet up with other teenagers. We stole cars and got into a lot of other trouble.
At first, I did those things secretly for fear of displeasing my parents. But I gradually lost that fear. I formed friendships with people much older than I who did not love Jehovah, and they had a negative influence on me. Finally, I told my parents that I no longer wished to have anything to do with their faith. They patiently tried to help me, but I rejected all their efforts. My parents were heartbroken.
After moving away from home, I began to experiment with drugs, even growing and selling large amounts of marijuana. I lived an immoral life and spent a lot of time partying in the club scene. I also developed a quick temper. If someone said or did something that I didn’t like, I would swell with anger, often shouting at people and hitting them. Basically, I did everything that I had been taught not to do as a Christian.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: I became close friends with a fellow drug user who had lost his father at a young age. We often stayed up talking late into the night. On some of those nights, he opened up and talked about how much he missed his father. Having grown up knowing about the hope of a resurrection, I soon found myself telling him about Jesus—that he raised the dead and that he promises to do so again in the future. (John 5:28, 29) “Imagine seeing your father again,” I would say. “All of us could live forever in Paradise on earth.” Those thoughts touched my friend’s heart.
At other times, my friend brought up such subjects as the last days or the Trinity doctrine. I would grab his Bible and show him various scriptures that revealed the truth about Jehovah God, Jesus, and the last days. (John 14:28; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) The more I spoke about Jehovah to my friend, the more I found myself thinking about Jehovah.
Slowly but surely, the seeds of Bible truth that were dormant in my heart—seeds that my parents had tried hard to plant—began to grow. For example, sometimes when I was at a party taking drugs with my friends, I would suddenly start thinking about Jehovah. Many of my friends claimed to love God, but their conduct said otherwise. Not wanting to be like that, I realized what I needed to do. I needed to return to Jehovah.
Of course, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things. Some changes were easy to make; I quit taking drugs without much difficulty. I also broke off my old friendships, and I began to study the Bible with a Christian elder.
Other changes, however, were much harder. It was especially difficult to control my anger. Sometimes I would do well for a while and then suffer a relapse. I felt bad afterward, thinking that I was a failure. Discouraged, I approached the elder who was studying the Bible with me. Ever patient and kind, he proved to be a true source of encouragement. One time, he had me read an article in The Watchtower about the importance of not giving up.* We discussed steps that I could take when I felt angry. Gradually, with the article in mind and with much prayer to Jehovah, I was able to bring my temper under control. Finally, in April 2000, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Needless to say, my parents were thrilled.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: I now have peace of mind and a clean conscience, knowing that I am no longer defiling my body with drugs or immorality. No matter what I do, whether it’s working, attending a Christian meeting, or enjoying some form of recreation, I am much happier. I have a positive outlook on life.
I thank Jehovah for my parents, who never forgot about me. I also think of Jesus’ words found at John 6:44: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” I am touched to think that I have been able to return to Jehovah because he drew me back.
“I Yearned for a Father.”—MARCO ANTONIO ALVAREZ SOTO
YEAR BORN: 1977
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: CHILE
HISTORY: DEATH-METAL BAND MEMBER
MY PAST: I was raised by my mother in Punta Arenas, a pleasant city on the Strait of Magellan near the southern tip of South America. My parents separated when I was five years old, which left me feeling abandoned. I yearned for a father.
My mother studied the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she took me to Christian meetings at the Kingdom Hall. However, I had an aversion to the meetings, and I would often throw a tantrum on the way there. When I was 13, I stopped attending altogether.
By that time, I had developed a love for music, and I realized that I had a knack for it. By age 15, I was playing heavy-metal and death-metal music at festivals, bars, and private gatherings. My association with talented musicians spawned in me an interest in classical music. I began to study music at a local conservatory. At 20, I moved to the capital, Santiago, to further my studies. I also continued playing in heavy-metal and death-metal bands.
All this time, I was plagued with feelings of emptiness. In an effort to alleviate those feelings, I would get drunk and take drugs with my bandmates, whom I considered my family. I had a rebellious attitude, which was evident in my appearance. I wore dark clothing, grew a beard, and let my hair grow almost down to my waist.
Time and again, my attitude got me into fights and in trouble with the law. Once, under the influence of alcohol, I attacked a group of drug dealers who were bothering my friends and me. The drug dealers beat me so badly that I ended up with a fractured jaw.
My greatest pain, however, came from those closest to me. One day, I found out that my girlfriend had been cheating on me for years with my best friend, and all my friends had been hiding it from me. I was crushed.
I moved back to Punta Arenas, where I began teaching music and working as a cellist. I also continued playing and recording with heavy-metal and death-metal bands. I met an attractive girl named Sussan, and we began living together. Some time later, Sussan found out that her mother believed in the Trinity doctrine and that I didn’t. “So, what is the truth?” she asked me. I responded that I knew that the Trinity doctrine is false but that I couldn’t prove it from the Bible. However, I knew who could. I told her that Jehovah’s Witnesses could show her the truth from the Bible. Then I did something I hadn’t done for many years—I prayed to God and asked for his help.
A few days later, I saw a man who looked familiar, and I asked him if he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although visibly shaken by my appearance, he kindly answered my questions regarding meetings at the Kingdom Hall. I was convinced that this encounter was the answer to my prayer. I went to the Kingdom Hall and sat in the last row so that no one would notice me. However, many began to recognize me from the days when I had attended as a child. They welcomed me and embraced me so affectionately that I felt an overwhelming peace. It was as if I had come home. When I saw the man who had taught me the Bible when I was little, I asked him to study with me again.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE: One day, I read Proverbs 27:11, which says: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice.” I was impressed to think that a mere mortal could make the Creator of the universe rejoice. It dawned on me that Jehovah was the Father figure that I had sought all my life!
I wanted to please my heavenly Father and do his will, but I had been a slave to drugs and alcohol for many years. I came to understand Jesus’ teaching recorded at Matthew 6:24, which says that “no one can slave for two masters.” As I struggled to make changes, the principle recorded at 1 Corinthians 15:33 hit home: “Bad associations spoil useful habits.” I realized that I could not quit my harmful habits if I continued to frequent the same places and associate with the same people. The Bible’s counsel was clear: I had to take drastic measures to break away from the things that were making me stumble.—Matthew 5:30.
My passion for music made quitting the heavy-metal scene the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But with the help of my friends in the congregation, I was finally able to break free. I quit overdrinking and taking drugs. I also cut my hair, shaved off my beard, and stopped dressing only in black. When I told Sussan that I wanted to cut my hair, her curiosity got the best of her. She said, “I’m going with you to see what this Kingdom Hall is all about!” She loved what she saw there, and soon she began studying the Bible herself. Eventually, Sussan and I got married. In 2008, we were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are happy to be united with my mother in serving Jehovah.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: I have escaped from a world of sham happiness and treacherous associates. I still love music, but I am selective now. I use my experiences to benefit family members and others, especially young people. I want to help them see that much of what this world offers may appear attractive, but in the end it is just “a lot of refuse.”—Philippians 3:8.
I have found loyal friends in the Christian congregation, where love and peace prevail. Above all, by drawing close to Jehovah, I have finally found my Father.
The article, entitled “Success Through Perseverance,” appeared in the February 1, 2000, issue, pages 4-6.
[Blurb on page 13]
“I have been able to return to Jehovah because he drew me back”