YEAR BORN: 1941
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRALIA
HISTORY: SMOKING, ALCOHOL ABUSE
I grew up in Warialda, a small country town in New South Wales. Warialda is a diverse farming community where sheep and cattle are raised and grain and small crops are grown. The town is clean, with little crime.
Being the eldest of ten children, at the age of 13, I started working to help provide for the family. Since I had little secular education, I worked on farms. By the age of 15, I was working as a stockman, breaking in horses.
Working on the farms was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the work, as well as the environment. I would sit by the campfire at night and look at the moon and the starry sky as the evening breezes brought in the scents of the surrounding bush. I remember thinking that Someone must have created all those wonderful things. On the other hand, I was exposed to some harmful influences on the farms. I often heard swearing, and I had easy access to cigarettes. Smoking and swearing soon became a regular part of my life.
When I turned 18, I moved to Sydney. I tried to get into the army but was rejected because of my lack of secular education. I got a job and stayed in Sydney for a year. It was during that time that I first came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. I accepted an invitation to attend one of their meetings, and I immediately recognized that their teachings had the ring of truth.
Shortly thereafter, however, I decided to go back to the bush. I ended up in Goondiwindi, Queensland. I found a job, got married and, unfortunately, also started drinking.
My wife and I had two children. After my sons were born, I began to think seriously about where my life was headed. I remembered what I had heard at that meeting of the Witnesses in Sydney and decided to do something about it.
I found an old issue of The Watchtower, which contained the address of the Australia branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I sent a letter asking for help. In response, a kind and loving Witness came to visit. Soon he was studying the Bible with me.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
As I studied the Bible, I came to see that I needed to make big changes in my life. One Bible verse that especially struck me was 2 Corinthians 7:1. That verse encourages us to “cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh.”
I decided that I would quit smoking and stop abusing alcohol. It was not easy to make those changes, as these habits had been a part of my life for a long time. But I was determined to live in a way that pleases God. The biggest help was applying the principle recorded at Romans 12:2: “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over.” I realized that in order to change my habits, I needed to change my thinking and to see my habits the way that God does—as harmful. With his help, I succeeded in giving up smoking and the abuse of alcohol.
“I realized that in order to change my habits, I needed to change my thinking”
Most challenging, though, was my struggle to quit swearing. I knew the Bible counsel recorded at Ephesians 4:29: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth.” Even so, I didn’t succeed immediately in cleaning up my language. I found it helpful to meditate on the words of Isaiah 40:26. Regarding the starry heavens, that verse reads: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.” I reasoned that if God had the power to create the vast universe—which I so loved to look at—surely he could give me the strength to make changes in order to please him. With much prayer and effort, I gradually brought my speech under control.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
As a stockman, I hadn’t had much opportunity to converse with people, as there were few people around on the farms where I worked. Yet, through the training provided at meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I have learned how to express myself. Among other things, that training has enabled me to talk to others about the good news of God’s Kingdom.—Matthew 6:9, 10; 24:14.
For the past several years, I’ve enjoyed serving as an elder in the congregation. I count it a privilege to do whatever I can to help my fellow believers. My greatest blessing, though, is being united in serving Jehovah along with my faithful, loving wife and our beautiful children.
I thank Jehovah for allowing me—someone with little education—to be taught by him. (Isaiah 54:13) I agree completely with the words of Proverbs 10:22, which reads: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich.” My family and I look forward to learning more about Jehovah and serving him forever.