YEAR BORN: 1981
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UNITED STATES
HISTORY: PRODIGAL SON
I was born in Moundsville, a quiet town along the Ohio River in northern West Virginia, U.S.A. I was the second of four children, three of whom were boys, so there was seldom a dull moment in our home. My parents were hardworking, honest people with a love for others. We never had a lot financially, but we always had what we needed. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, my parents did their best to instill Bible principles in us when we were young.
By the time I was an adolescent, however, my heart had already begun to be lured away from what I had been taught. I questioned whether a life guided by Bible principles could be meaningful or satisfying. I reasoned that absolute freedom was the only way to be truly happy. Before long, I stopped attending Christian meetings. Two of my siblings joined me in the same rebellious course. Our parents did everything they could to try to help us, but we rejected their efforts.
Little did I realize that the so-called freedom I desired would lead me into the clutches of addiction. One day while I was walking home from school, a friend offered me a cigarette. I accepted. From that day forward, I said yes to many other destructive practices. In time, I was abusing drugs and alcohol and living immorally. Over the next several years, I progressively experimented with harder drugs and became a slave to many of them. Spiraling deeper into my addictions, I began selling drugs to support my lifestyle.
As much as I tried to ignore my conscience, it regularly reminded me that the way I was living was wrong. Yet, I felt that the damage had been done and that there was no turning back. Despite being surrounded by people at parties and concerts, I would often feel alone and depressed. At times, I would think of how decent and good my parents are and wonder how I had strayed so far.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
Even though I had given up on myself, others had not. In the year 2000, my parents invited me to attend a district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I reluctantly went along. To my surprise, so did my two siblings who had also strayed.
While at the convention, it dawned on me that I had been to the same venue for a rock concert about a year earlier. The contrast I saw touched my deepest emotions. At the concert, the facility was littered with garbage and filled with cigarette smoke. Most of the concertgoers were unfriendly, and the message in the music was depressing. But at the convention, I was surrounded by genuinely happy people—people who warmly welcomed me, even though I hadn’t seen them in years. The facility was clean, and the message being presented was one of hope. Seeing the positive effect of Bible truth made me wonder why I had ever rejected it!—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
“The Bible empowered me to stop using and selling drugs and become a productive member of society”
Immediately following the convention, I decided to return to the Christian congregation. My siblings, also moved by what they had experienced at that convention, decided to return as well. All three of us accepted personal Bible studies.
A Bible verse that especially moved me was James 4:8, which says: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” I realized that if I wanted to draw close to God, I would have to clean up my life. Among other changes, I needed to stop using tobacco and stop abusing drugs and alcohol.—2 Corinthians 7:1.
I broke off my old friendships and replaced them with new ones—from among Jehovah’s worshippers. The Christian elder who studied the Bible with me was particularly helpful. He regularly phoned me and stopped by to see how I was doing. To this day, he is one of my closest friends.
In the spring of 2001, I symbolized my dedication to God by water baptism, as did my two siblings. You can imagine the joy of my parents and faithful younger brother when our family was finally united in worshipping Jehovah.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
I used to think that Bible principles are too restrictive, but I now regard them as an invaluable protection. The Bible empowered me to stop using and selling drugs and become a productive member of society.
I have the privilege of being part of a worldwide brotherhood of Jehovah’s worshippers. These people truly love one another, and they are united in serving God. (John 13:34, 35) Out of that brotherhood came a very special blessing—my wife, Adrianne, whom I deeply love and cherish. It brings us much joy to serve our Creator together.
Instead of pursuing a selfish course of life, I now volunteer as a full-time minister, teaching people how they too can benefit from God’s Word. This work has brought me the greatest happiness of all. I can say with tremendous conviction that the Bible changed my life. I have finally found true freedom.