HOW did a young woman who had no interest in God and who was enjoying a promising career find real purpose in life? What did a young Catholic man learn about death that made him change the course of his life? And what did a young man who was disillusioned with life learn about God that moved him to become a Christian minister? Read what these people have to say.
“For Years I Wondered, ‘Why Are We Here?’”—ROSALIND JOHN
YEAR BORN: 1963
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: BRITAIN
HISTORY: ENJOYED A PRESTIGIOUS CAREER
I was born in Croydon, South London, the sixth child of a family of nine. My parents were originally from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Mother attended a Methodist church. I had no interest in learning about God, although I had an insatiable desire for knowledge. My school vacations were often spent by the local lake, reading numerous books borrowed from the library.
Some years after leaving school, I realized that I wanted to help vulnerable people. I began working with the homeless and those who had physical and learning disabilities. Then I took a university course in health sciences. After graduating, I enjoyed a succession of surprisingly prestigious positions, and my lifestyle became increasingly luxurious. As a freelance management consultant and social researcher, all I needed for work was my laptop computer and access to the Internet. I would fly abroad for a couple of weeks at a time, stay in my favorite hotel, enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and use the spa and gym facilities to keep fit. I really thought I was living. But I never lost my concern for the downtrodden.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
For years I wondered, ‘Why are we here, and what is the purpose of life?’ But I never tried to find answers from the Bible. One day in 1999, my younger sister Margaret, who had become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, visited me with her Witness friend, who showed a personal interest in me. I found myself agreeing to have a Bible study with my sister’s friend, but my progress was very slow, as my career and lifestyle took up much of my time.
In the summer of 2002, I moved to southwest England. There, I began a postgraduate university degree course in social research, with the ultimate goal of earning my doctorate. I started attending the local Kingdom Hall more regularly with my young son. Although I enjoyed higher education, my study of the Bible was bringing me a greater understanding of life’s problems and the solution. I realized the truth of Matthew 6:24, which says that you cannot serve two masters. It had to be either God or riches. I knew I would have to make a decision about my priorities in life.
The previous year, I had often attended a home Bible study group where the Witnesses studied the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You?a I became convinced that only our Creator, Jehovah, has the solution to mankind’s problems. Now, at the university I was being taught that the meaning of life did not involve belief in a Creator. I was incensed. After two months, I gave up my university course and decided to give more time to spiritual pursuits.
The Bible passage that motivated me to change my lifestyle was Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” Learning about our loving God was more rewarding than any material riches and status that a doctorate might bring. The more I learned about Jehovah’s purpose for the earth and the role Jesus played in sacrificing his life for us, the more I wanted to dedicate my life to our Creator. I was baptized in April 2003. After that I gradually simplified my life.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
My friendship with Jehovah is priceless. I’ve gained real inner peace and joy from knowing him. I also experience much happiness from associating with other true worshippers of God.
My thirst for knowledge continues to be amply satisfied by what I learn from the Bible and from Christian meetings. I enjoy sharing my faith with others. This has become my career, one in which I can really help people, both to experience a better life now and to have the wonderful hope of life in the new world. Since June 2008, I have been sharing in the full-time ministry, and I am happier and more contented than I have ever been. I have found the real purpose of life, and for that I am truly grateful to Jehovah.
“The Loss of My Friend Shook Me Up.”—ROMAN IRNESBERGER
YEAR BORN: 1973
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRIA
I grew up in the small town of Braunau, Austria. The area was affluent, and crime was uncommon. My family was Catholic and raised me in that religion.
An event in my early life had a big impact on me. In 1984, when I was about 11 years old, I remember playing soccer with one of my close friends. That same afternoon, he was killed in a car accident. The loss of my friend shook me up terribly. For years after the accident, I wondered what happens to us when we die.
When I left school, I worked as an electrician. Although I became a habitual gambler and played for large sums of money, I had no financial problems. I also spent a lot of time on sports and developed a love of heavy metal and punk rock music. Life was disco after disco and party after party. I was leading a pleasure-seeking, immoral life but felt very empty.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
In 1995, an elderly Witness knocked on my door and offered me a book that discussed the Bible’s answer to the question, What happens at death? The tragic death of my young friend still troubled me, so I took the book. I read not only the chapter about death but the whole book!
What I read answered my questions about death. But I learned much more. Because I was raised as a Catholic, my faith centered first and foremost on Jesus. However, my careful study of the Bible helped me to develop a close friendship with Jesus’ Father, Jehovah God. I was fascinated to learn that Jehovah is not secretive and aloof but makes himself clearly known to those who search for him. (Matthew 7:7-11) I learned that Jehovah has feelings. I also learned that he always keeps his word. That led me to take a deep interest in Bible prophecies and to investigate how they have been fulfilled. What I discovered strengthened my faith in God.
I soon realized that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones I knew of who were seriously interested in helping people understand the Bible. I noted the scriptures mentioned in the Witness publications and looked them up in my Catholic Bible. The more I investigated, the more I realized that I had found the truth.
My Bible study taught me that Jehovah expected me to live by his standards. From what I read at Ephesians 4:22-24, I could see that I had to get rid of my “old personality,” which was shaped by my “former course of conduct” and that I had to “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will.” So I gave up my immoral lifestyle. I also saw the need to quit gambling, since that habit encourages materialism and greed. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) I knew that to make those changes, I would have to stop seeing my old friends and seek new associates who shared my standards.
Making those changes was not easy. But I started attending meetings with the Witnesses at the Kingdom Hall and began making new friends in the local congregation. I also continued a careful study of the Bible on my own. Those steps led me to change my taste in music, alter my goals in life, and tidy up my personal appearance. In 1995, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I now have a balanced view of money and material possessions. I used to be hot-tempered, but now I have become more even-tempered. I am also no longer overly anxious about the future.
I love being a part of an international group of people who serve Jehovah. Among them I see people who struggle with problems but still faithfully serve God. I feel so happy that I now expend all my time and energy, not on trying to satisfy my own desires, but on worshipping Jehovah and doing good for other people.
“At Last, My Life Has a Purpose.”—IAN KING
YEAR BORN: 1963
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: ENGLAND
HISTORY: DISILLUSIONED WITH LIFE
I was born in England, but about the time I was seven years old, my family moved to Australia. We settled on the Gold Coast, a tourist destination in Queensland, Australia. Although my family was not rich, we always had what we needed.
Despite my comfortable upbringing, I was never really happy. I became quite disillusioned with life. My father was a heavy drinker. I never had much affection for him, mostly because of his drinking and the way he treated my mother. It was only later, when I learned about the things he had experienced as a soldier in Malaya, that I began to understand why he acted the way he did.
I started binge drinking during my high-school years. At age 16, I left school and joined the navy. I began to experiment with drugs and became addicted to tobacco. I also became more and more dependent on alcohol. I went from binge drinking on the weekends to doing so every day.
In my late teens and early 20’s, I started to question God’s existence. ‘If God really exists,’ I reasoned, ‘why does he allow people to suffer and die?’ I even wrote poetry blaming God for all the wickedness in the world.
I left the navy at age 23. After that, I worked at different jobs and even traveled overseas for a year, but nothing relieved my despondency. I had no desire to set goals or achieve anything. Nothing really appealed to me. The prospect of owning a house, having a secure job, and receiving promotions all seemed pointless. My only “comfort” came from drinking alcohol and listening to music.
I can recall the exact moment when I felt the greatest desire to find purpose in life. I was in Poland, visiting the infamous concentration camp at Auschwitz. I had read about the atrocities that took place. But when I actually stood there and saw the enormous size of the camp, my emotions were deeply affected. I could not comprehend how humans could be so cruel to other humans. I remember walking around the camp with tears in my eyes, asking, ‘Why?’
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
In 1993, after returning from overseas, I began to read the Bible in search of answers. Soon thereafter, two of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door and invited me to a convention that was being held at a nearby stadium. I decided to go.
I had been to that stadium a few months earlier for a match, but the contrast with this convention was enormous. The Witnesses were polite and well-dressed, and their children were well-behaved. And I was stunned by what I saw at lunchtime. Hundreds of Witnesses ate lunch on the playing field, but when they returned to their seats, I couldn’t see a single piece of rubbish left on the field! Above all, these people seemed to have a feeling of contentment and peace—something I yearned for. I don’t remember any of the talks that were given that day, but the conduct of the Witnesses made a lasting impression.
That evening, I thought of my cousin who read the Bible and studied different religions. Years earlier, he told me that Jesus said you would be able to recognize the true religion by its fruitage. (Matthew 7:15-20) I thought that I should at least look into what makes the Witnesses so different. For the first time in my life, I felt a bit of optimism and hope.
The following week, the two Witnesses who had invited me to the convention returned. They offered me a Bible study, which I accepted. I also began to attend Christian meetings with them.
As I studied the Bible, my view of God changed completely. I learned that he is not the cause of wickedness and suffering and that he himself is hurt when people do bad things. (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40, 41) I became quite determined to try never to cause Jehovah any hurt. I wanted to make his heart rejoice. (Proverbs 27:11) I stopped overdrinking and using tobacco, and I quit engaging in immorality. In March 1994, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I am genuinely happy and content. I no longer turn to alcohol in an attempt to solve my problems. Instead, I’ve learned to throw my burdens on Jehovah.—Psalm 55:22.
For the past ten years, I have been married to a beautiful Witness named Karen, and I have a wonderful stepdaughter named Nella. The three of us enjoy spending a lot of our time in the Christian ministry, helping others to learn the truth about God. At last, my life has purpose.
a Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.